I will start with some honourable mentions. They did not make my top 10 but they should be, well, mentioned: The Santa Claus films with Tim Allen especially the first one is quite a hoot, The Home Alone series which is funny but not my favourite and I am not a Macauley Culkin fan, The Grinch-It's ok but I prefer the cartoon, Bad Santa-it is really funny but so, so nasty even though the kid does find a friend who is a drunken robber, Polar Express which is magical and Love Actually which I adore but for some reason I don't associate with Christmas even though it ends with Christmas..that's just me. I do not place The Sound of Music here at all. It is a wonderful film but takes place in summer, has no Christmas music-it has Nazis. This film used to be shown at Easter and now it is shown at this time because the executroids have no idea where to place it. Anyhoo, without further ado here is my top 10!
I can't help myself, it is stupid in some places, well many places but I laugh. Will Farrell plays an idiot (what else is new) who is told he is not an elf but a human and to go to NYC to find his dad played by James Caan. My favourite part-when he thinks the future Game of Thrones guy is an elf and gets his butt whipped.
9. THE BISHOP'S WIFE-1947
This stars Cary Grant, David Niven and the sanctimonious Loretta Young but, even though she is in this film, I truly enjoy it. David Niven plays the bishop who is having trouble and prays which brings an angel, in the form of Cary Grant, down to help him. Niven's character soon regrets this as he sees the angel fall in love with his wife. I enjoy it when Monty Whooley's character knows that Cary Grant is an angel-well acted.
8. NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION-1989
All these films just make me laugh and this is no exception. Chevy Chase is so funny and the things that happen we can, scarily enough, all relate to- to some degree. I know my parents added so many extension chords for lights that I am surprised the house never caught fire. I have to say my favourite scene is when the tree goes up and the Uncle (Great William Hickey), wonders what's wrong while he is on fire.
7. A CHRISTMAS STORY-1983
This is a great story that many of us can relate to when we were kids and yes, I did put my tongue on the pole but when I realized my tongue was actually stuck, I cupped my hands around my mouth and blew my hot air that I am in abundance with and it came unstuck. We all wanted one toy that we had to have and this film brings it all to the forefront. The parents are hilarious especially Darren McGavin as the dad who is so happy to have his leg lamp. My favourite scene-when the little brother can't get up off the snow because he is so bundled up....it happened to me. oh and it was film where I live now.
6. HOLIDAY INN-1942
This is the film where White Christmas was introduced and it is beautifully done. It is all about a duo act played by Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and Bing has had enough and retires to a farm not realizing how much work it would be. He decides to remake the farm as a club that is only open on holidays. The result? You hear White Christmas for the first time, see Fred Astaire dance brilliantly with Marjorie Reynolds to a Valentine dance and a 4th of July dance (where he lost an additional 40lbs due to the number) and a cringe worthy singing about freedom for Lincoln's birthday. To see Bing in blackface and Marjorie Reynolds done up in black face and hair that is very racist for today tells one of the times. One has to realize that in their simple minds, the people who created this whole scene were probably trying to help the African Americans. Time is not kind to this scene. My favourite scene is actually when Fred dances with Marjorie Reynolds as I love dance.
5. WHITE CHRISTMAS-1954
This is the film everyone knows the song by and it is filled with fun, songs and dances. Bing never liked to rehearse much and he didn't like to do many takes so the others would do what they needed to while Bing was on the golf course. Rosemary Clooney(George's Aunt) has a superb voice but couldn't dance while Vera-Ellen could dance but could not sing (she was dubbed). The one think that distracts me about this film is how painfully thin Vera-Ellen is. If you notice she only wears turtlenecks or something high because she was too thin that her shoulders and neck looked horrible. I believe she had anorexia. Now enough about that, my favourite scene is the one above-"Sisters" with Bing and Danny Kaye (amazing man) and when Bing cracks up at the end, he really is-they kept it in the film!
4. GOING MY WAY-1944
Not too many people see this film nowadays and it is a shame! Bing and the wonderful Barry Fitzgerald won Oscars for their roles and it is filled with humour, gentleness, music and ends with Christmas. Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral is one of my favourite Christmas songs and Bing sings it to Barry's character after he was a bad boy and left home (you have to see the movie!). From the kids stealing turkeys, to the priests playing golf, it is such a feel good film. The great Mezzo-soprano star Rise Stevens (pictured-she died this year at 100) sang Carmen in this film and Ave Maria. I have to admit my favourite scene is when her character and Bing's meet up after a long absence. You find out quickly they were once involved and she is dressing while he waits outside in her dressing room. She talks about the letters she got from him and when she stops at Budapest and she goes all dreamy, I made up my mind that one day I will go to this magical place...and I did when I was 18!
3. A CHRISTMAS CAROL-1951
There are so many versions of this classic one can compile a list on just this book but my favourite is this 1951 version with the great Alastair Sim. He can convey such nastiness, humour, fear and happiness all at once- it is a tour de force performance worthy of an Oscar. This film should never be bastardized by being made in colour! The black and white is how it must be seen to show all the shadows and darkness and light. I have to admit I was frightened by the Ghost of Christmas future-his bony finger was enough to set me off into fear land. My favourite scene? When he wakes up, finds himself alive and proceeds to be exuberantly happy that he scares his housekeeper half to death.
2. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET-1947
This is the best version and it must be in black and white! Edmund Gwenn is THE best Santa who is gentle but knows how to stick up for himself and the underdog. The beautiful Maureen O'Hara who is still alive and just received an honourary Oscar is part of a romantic team with John Payne playing the lawyer who defends Kris Kringle and falling for the spunky O'Hara. The cute child is played by a young Natalie Wood who was excellent as the child who wants to believe but is scared to. My favourite scene-Early when Kris Kringle is seeing all the little children and a young refugee from Holland, who is an orphan, believes that he knows her favourite Christmas song and he does. They sing it and he brings joy to the little girl's heart.
1. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE-1946
You knew this would be #1 didn't you? :) This is my all time favourite film never mind Christmas movie. I watch it every year and am never tired of it. How could I be? It is about a man that, although he does good to all the town and is fair and loving, he hates his life and resents it until he sees what it would be like without him. We could all learn from this. This is the first film James Stewart made after coming back from Word War 2. It was his favourite film too. We can gripe about how unhappy we are in our life, job, significant other. We dream about travel and what we want to do not what we have to do and we can easily forget how much we have helped others not even knowing how much. This is another film to be seen only in black and white never colour! From the Charleston dance, to the bank run to where George Bailey sees his brother's grave, there are so many great scenes but I was always captivated by the scene when he is in the cold world and no one knows who he is. He leaves his mother's place and there is a close up of Jimmy Stewart's face, the music is eerie and haunting and one half of his face is lit and the other side is dark. you hear Clarence say "You see, George, you really did have a wonderful life. Wouldn't it be sad if you throw it all away?" When he sees all the people at the end, I cry every time out of joy.