Get the popcorn ready and settle in to watch these top holiday movies that make perfect double features!
Most Iconic: It’s a Wonderful Life(1946)/Miracle on 34th Street(1947) It’s a Wonderful Life is a deeply moving drama about a man named George Bailey, played by actor Jimmy Stewart, who is about to jump from a bridge until a guardian angel shows up to share what the town would have been like without his presence. Miracle on 34th Street is a classic about a mother, played by Maureen O’Hara, who hires a kind old man to be Santa Claus at Macy’s. His goals are to prove his authenticity, restore mankind’s belief in Santa, and share in the magic of Christmas. In this version, see the young performance of Natalie Wood.
Most Sentimental: It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)/The Shop Around the Corner (1940) It Happened on Fifth Avenue is a romantic comedy movie that earned an Academy Award for Best Story. In this tale, a drifter begins squatting in a wealthy home and invites others in. When the daughter of the owner shows up, played by actress Gale Storm, she falls for an unemployed veteran, featuring actor Don DeFore, who is staying in the home, and much inspiration is stirred. The Shop Around the Corner is also an inspiring rom-com that features employees at a general store who are constantly butting heads but deeply care for their pen pals in this holiday movie with a twist. Stars include James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.
Best family movies: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)/The House without a Christmas Tree(1972) A Charlie Brown Christmas is the genius of Charles M. Schulz. In this movie, the character Charlie Brown is let down by the commercialism he witnesses and seeks to find a deeper meaning of Christmas. In The House Without a Christmas Tree, young Annie desperately wants to decorate a tree for Christmas, but her bitter father, played by Jason Robards, is opposed.
Best Holiday Rom-coms: Holiday Affair (1949)/Comfort and Joy(2003) Holiday Affair, starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh, features the story of a seasonal clerk catching a beautiful woman in a fraudulent shopping scheme during the Christmas rush. Both drama and romance ensue. Comfort and Joy, starring Nancy McKeon and including Dixie Carter, is the story of a successful woman who awakens after a car crash to find a new life, a very different kind than the one she remembers.
Best kindhearted theme: The Bishop’s Wife(1947)/The Preacher’s Wife(1996) The Bishop’s Wife is a movie about a Bishop, played by David Niven, who looks to Heaven for guidance. Fortunately, his prayers are answered by the arrival of angel Dudley, played by none other than Cary Grant. Dudley acts as the assistant of the bishop and reminds him of what’s important in life. In the original film, the wife is played by Loretta Young. In The Preacher’s Wife, an updated version of The Bishop’s Wife and featuring the late actress and singer Whitney Houston, a cleric begins to doubt himself and calls for the help of an angel. The gospel music and Houston’s performance are simply amazing!
Best classics: Remember the Night (1940)/Christmas in Connecticut(1945) Remember the Night stars actor Fred MacMurray who plays a New York District Attorney. In this romantic comedy, the DA lets a shoplifter out on bail and then offers her a ride home to Indiana, where adventures happen to include a run-in with a sheriff. Christmas in Connecticut is the story of a war hero, played by actor Dennis Morgan, who travels to a home in Connecticut to spend the holidays with well-known column writer Elizabeth Lane, played by actress Barbara Stanwyck. In this rom-com, Lane pretends to be a farm wife and mother and ultimately falls in love.
Best musical theme: Holiday Inn(1942)/White Christmas(1954) Holiday Inn is a musical starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, with music composed by Irving Berlin and featuring “White Christmas.” The story features a performing trio who plans to quit and run a country hotel. White Christmas also stars Bing Crosby, this time around with actors Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Judy Haynes. The fellas join the sister act to perform a Christmas show in rural Vermont, and the foursome create a musical extravaganza.
Most entertaining: Elf(2003)/How the Grinch Stole Christmas(2000) In Elf, Buddy, played by Will Ferrell, is raised as Santa’s elf in the North Pole but doesn’t quite fit in. So, adult Buddy travels to NY in search of his birth father, and much chaos follows in the big city. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, directed by Ron Howard, narrated by Anthony Hopkins, and starring Jim Carrey, is a Christmas fantasy/drama based on the book of the same title by Dr. Seuss. The story features the Grinch who dislikes the holiday and is poorly understood by the Whos in Whoville. Hope appears as six-year-old Cindy Lou seeks to help the Grinch discover the true meaning of Christmas.
Best animated films: Rudolph-the-Red Nose Reindeer(1964)/Frosty the Snowman(1969) Rudolph-the-Red Nose Reindeer is a Christmas stop motion animated television special. It first aired on December 6, 1964, and the script is based on the well-known Johnny Marks song bearing the same title. This story, which follows the tale of Rudolph, has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest-running Christmas TV special. Frosty the Snowman is also an animated Christmas television special featuring the snowman character Frosty and is based on the Walter E. Rollins and Steve Nelson song. This movie features the voice of Jimmy Durante in his final film role.
Best cold-to-warmhearted theme: Scrooge (1951)/A Christmas Carol(1984) Scrooge is a drama based on Charles Dicken’s famous novella and ghost story of Christmas. In the 1951 version, crotchety Victorian businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Alastair Sim, is visited by late partner Jacob Marley who warns that three ghosts will appear if the coldhearted man does not mend his ways. In the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is played by George C. Scott, and some claim that Scott is the meanest and best Scrooge of all times. This British-American production was originally made for television.
Most magical: The Snowman(1982)/The Nutcracker(1993) The Snowman is a British animated television film and a symphonic poem based on Raymond Briggs’ picture book bearing the same title. The film is wordless, and the story is of a boy who wakes to play in the snow and finds the Snowman has magically come to life at midnight. George Balanchine’s story, The Nutcracker, is narrated by Kevin Kline and features performances by the New York City Ballet. On Christmas Eve, a young girl named Marie falls asleep after a party at her home and dreams of a world where toys become larger than life.
Please feel free to share your favorite Christmas or holiday movies with us in the comments below:
*This opinion article does not reflect AMAC endorsements.