Latest posts by Brenda Fellman (see all)
- Classic Film Review – Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) - February 16, 2018
- Classic Film Review: White Christmas (1954) - December 15, 2017
- Classic Christmas Film Review – Miracle On 34th Street - December 8, 2017
Whilst I don’t celebrate Christmas myself, I have always enjoyed a good Christmas movie. So much so that I even like to watch them all throughout the year. Therefore, I decided to put 4 of my top Christmas movies of all times into a list for you to enjoy. Being a film buff, I could list more than four but I tend to watch these Christmas movies much more regularly. Three films from the list below are classic Hollywood films whilst the foutthink is much more recent.
4: The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992)
Directed by Brian Henson
Cast: Michael Caine (Scrooge)
I know there are many great tellings of ‘A Christmas Carol’. I should know as I have seen many of them. Many hold a place in my list of favourite Christmas movies, but this is my favorite by far. I’m not going to summaries the plot because if you haven’t seen or read ‘A Christmas Carol’ it would be a disservice to spoil it for you. The reason that this is my favorite version of the classic tale is not neccarrily because it is the most technically brilliant or best acted. The Muppets Christmas Carol was first version I’d ever seen and holds a special place in my heart.
Gonzo is amazing as Charles Dickens and tells the story beautifully. The musical numbers are brilliant and they help move the film along at a decent pace. The mix of puppetry and live acling work seamlessly. So much so that it makes you believable the world around them. Another standout performance is Michael Caine As Scrooge. This film is funny, heart-wrenching and an all-around great film.
All I can say is go watch it!
3: Miracle on 34th street (1947)
Directed by George Seaton
Cast: Maureen O’Hara (Doris Walker), John Payne (Fred Gailey), Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle), Gene Lockhart (Judge Henry X. Harper), Natalie Wood (Susan Walker)
This movie has a fairly basic plot: a nice old man (Edmund Gwenn), is hired by Macy’s to play Santa by their no-nonsense special events director, Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara). While he is quite successful, Ms Walker learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and actually believes he is Santa. Despite reassurances by Kringle’s doctor that he is harmless, Doris still is worried, especially since she has trained herself and her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), to reject all notions of belief and fantasy and to just believe in logic. With the help from a young lawyer, Fred Gailey (John Payne), Kris starts to turn those beliefs upside down. Eventually things come to a head and Kris is institutionalized for being insane. This leads Fred to defend him in court by arguing that he is the real thing.
This film is magical and beautiful, and there is not one bad scene throughout. The cast is amazing and everyone does a great job in pulling this film together.
This film has been remade four times, three times for TV in 1955, 1959, and 1973. As well as a feature film in 1994 (the film was more serious and less fun than the original). None of these adaptations come close to the magic of the original, and though none of them are bad, they just don’t measure up.
So watch and enjoy!
2: Holiday Inn (1942)
Directed by Mark Sandrich
Cast: Bing Crosby (Jim Hardy), Fred Astaire (Ted Hanover), Marjorie Reynolds (Linda Mason), Virginia Dale (Lila Dixon), Walter Abel (Danny Reed), Louise Beavers (Mamie)
This can be seen as more of a holiday film than a Christmas film. It focuses on more than one holiday, but it does actually put an emphasis a lot on both Christmas and the New Year. The plot centres around a famous dance trio who break up as Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) plans to take his fiancée Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) out to Connecticut to live on a farm and relax. The problem is Lila Dixon doesn’t want to give up her career and runs off with the third man in their act Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire). When farming doesn’t go as planned, Jim decides to open an inn that will only be open for holidays. After asking his old agent Danny (Walter Abel) to send acts for his inn, he is sent Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). She auditions and gets the part. Problems soon follow when Ted shows up after being left by Lila, and wants Linda to be his new dance partner.
This film is a great musical and has amazing song and dance numbers. The excellent chemistry between Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, as well as the amazinf acting, singing and dancing skills of the relatively unknown actress (at the time) Marjorie Reynolds makes this film a classic. This film can be watched throughout the year and I suggest giving it a shot. You won’t be sorry.
Side note and fun fact: this is the first of three movies in which Bing Crosby sings White Christmas and features Irving Berlin.
Also, before anyone jumps down my throat, I know that in one scene there is blackface. And, while I don’t condone it, you have to remember that this film is from 1940’s and sadly this was common practice for a long time. Please give this film try anyway; that bit can be skipped and you won’t miss much.
1: White Christmas (1954)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Cast: Bing Crosby (Bob Wallace), Danny Kaya (Phil Davis), Rosemary Clooney (Betty Haynes), Vera-Ellen (Judy Haynes), Dean Jagger (Major General Thomas F. Waverly)
There are many reasons why this film holds the number one spot on my list of Christmas movies. The music, the cast and the visuals are all superb. The main reason this is number one is the plot. It’s about to two men, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), who, having left the army at the end of WW2, team up and become a famous song and dance team. Thanks to Davis, they meet two sisters who are also a song and dance team Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen). When the girls head to an inn in Vermont to perform at their Christmas fair that year, the guys follow and find that their former commander, General Waverly (Dean Jagger), to be the owner of the inn. The inn is struggling and it gets worse as there is no snow and the General is about to lose everything. They team up to help the general out by putting on a Christmas show with hilarious results.
WHire Christmas is a feel-good film. The plot is exciting and filled with good holiday cheer. The music is enjoyable and Bing Crosby’s rendition of White Christmas at the start of the film, with the war background, is an amazing opening. From that point it just keeps getting better and better throughout the film. If you haven’t seen it then you are missing a great film, so go watch it and enjoy.
Next year’s list of Christmas movies
Now for all these films I originally wanted to do full reviews, but I can only get away with reviewing these films during December. So maybe next year I can do full reviews of White Christmas, Holiday inn and Miracle on 34th St. I will not, however, be doing a review of a The Muppets Christmas Carol, because I don’t think I could say more without ruining the plot and that would be a crime.
So, to all of you: Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!