Every year certain movies are necessary to enjoying the Christmas season. Here are the top five for me (plus an honorable mention)
1. It's A Wonderful Life- James Stewart, Donna Reed
It is kind of a shame that this is just considered a holiday film since it is one of the greatest in American cinema history. It is in AFI's top twenty (and my top five!)and only gets better with age. Capra's favorite film of all the classics he made and Jimmy Stewart's favorite as well. Powerful masterpiece!
2. Scrooge- Albert Finney, Alec Guinness
This british musical production of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" is my favorite but I have to confess I did not grow up watching the Alistair Sim version which has become the critic's choice as the best. To me the songs and the ghosts make this one a cut above and Albert Finney is great! I get these songs stuck in my head the rest of the year until it's time to watch it again.
3. Holiday Inn- Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire
This is home to the original version of Irving Berlin's classic "White Christmas" sung by the incomparable Bing Crosby. Add some excellent footwork by Fred Astaire and you have a delightful Christmas comedy with plenty of story and plenty of musical numbers for all of the holidays! (of course the black-face routine does show how times have changed)
4. A Christmas Story- Peter Billingsley
I think this one has become the favorite of my generation and for good reason. It is the funniest movie on this list with so many memorable scenes and quotable lines it's no surprise why it has become so popular. Some of my favorites are "yellow eyes, so help me" "I can't put my arms down!" and "Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra" but most people remember "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"
5. Miracle On 34th St- Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood
Before Wonderful Life's rebirth in the 70s thanks to television this was the classic Christmas favorite and still is for many people. Natalie Wood is fabulous at such a young age and Santa played by Edmund Gwenn is the best in movie history.
Elf- Will Farrell
Move over Christmas Story there's a new funniest Christmas movie, but maybe not as good. I like this one more every time I see it. My kids absolutely love it and would watch it every day of the season if I let 'em. "I'm singing, and I'm in a store, and I'm SIIIIINGING!" "You sit on a throne of lies" "He's an angry elf"
I also really like The Shop Around The Corner with Jimmy Stewart and The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant.