Jon's Favorite Christmas Movies
I love a good holiday movie, and over the years Hollywood has provided a number of choices to pick from. Here’s a list of ten of my all-time favorite Christmas movies starting with number ten and finishing with my all-time favorite:
10. A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965 – So technically not a movie, but a TV presentation, but the story is great, especially Linus’ explaining the real meaning of Christmas and the soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is the sound of Christmas to my ears.
9. Elf, 2003 – Will Ferrell steals the show as an elf who comes to New York City to meet his real father, James Caan. Elf is an “innocent abroad” meets Christmas mashup for the ages.
8. White Christmas, 1954 – Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellan sing, dance, fall in love and do the right thing the Greatest Generation way. Plus the Bingster is the voice of Christmas.
7. Scrooged, 1988 - Bill Murray is at his snarky best and Karen Allen is wonderful as his lost love interest in this Dickins romp. Character actors have a field day in this farce, especially Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane and John Forsyth.
6. A Christmas Story, 1983 – It's Christmas in Indiana during the 1940s and Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun, but to me it always feels like the 1970s in Urbandale where I grew up wanting nothing more than a Daisy BB gun for Christmas. Happy endings all around.
5. The Bishop’s Wife, 1947 – David Niven is a career driven Bishop, Loretta Young is his increasingly lonely wife and Cary Grant is the angel who arrives to cheer her up…. which causes the Bishop to smarten up. Cary Grant at his very best.
4. Love Actually, 2003 - The newest movie on the list and this ensemble piece explore what loves is, actually, during Christmas in London. Hugh Grant is especially winsome as a love lost Prime Minister, as is a very young Thomas Brandie Sangster who navigates the loss of his mother and pains of first time love with the aid of step-dad Liam Neeson.
3. Christmas in Connecticut, 1945 – Barbara Stanwycke is the career girl in distress who finds love while trying to fool her boss during a Christmas holiday. Two of the best all-time Hollywood character actors, Sydney Geenstreet and S.Z. Sakall play off wonderfully against each other and Stanwycke does her best "beautiful, tough gal with a heart of gold just waiting to melt" thing to perfection.
2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989 - I’m from one of those really big Catholic families everyone is always talking about. Watching Clark Griswald’s plans for a big family Christmas run amuck touches all the right buttons for my funny bone. Cousin Eddy and the entire family arrive, but no Christmas bonus and one hard to catch squirrel peaks chaos on Christmas Eve.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946 - No one director has more influenced how American’s see themselves than Frank Capra and this Christmas classic is his best work. A movie that’s subject matter is inherently dark (James Stewart’s George Baily has lost faith in life itself) becomes uplifting in the hands of Capra and a stellar cast of characters including Stewart and Iowa native Donna Reed. I first watched this movie in 1978 at the urging of my Mother (always listen to your Mother at Christmas!) and just fell in love with it. Imagine in this day and age an entire town praying for the wellbeing of a mortgage banker, but then it is true; “no man is a failure, who has friends”.