Thursday, December 22, 2011

Here you go: The top Christmas movies ever

Hello, dear readers, and Happy Holidays. You probably read the headline to this piece and thought "just what I need--another top ten list of Christmas movies." But, you see, this is my list so read up to find out which are "must see" movies this holiday season.

Holiday Inn (1942): This isn't technically a Christmas movie but it is the first time we hear Bing Crosby sing "White Christmas." For that alone, this one makes the list. (And, the dancing of Fred Astaire isn't bad either.)

A Christmas Carol (1984): I prefer this version with George C. Scott, one of the best American actors ever. Or, maybe I'm just intrigued at watching the guy who played General George S. Patton (Patton) and General Buck Turgidson (Dr. Strangelove) take a turn as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978): This makes the list because of how fun it was to watch with my daughter. Big Bird worries when Oscar tells him that Santa can't fit down the chimney. And, of course, the story is told with typical Sesame Street grace and care.

White Christmas (1954): It's not really the Christmas season until I see Crosby singing "White Christmas," with Rosemary Clooney, in those redder-than-red outfits at the end of this classic.

The Preacher's Wife (1996):
This is a remake of The Bishop's Wife (Cary Grant) but gets the nod due to Denzel Washington as an incredibly charming Dudley and a pre-meltdown Whitney Houston displaying her gospel singing chops.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947): A young Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn, as Santa Claus, star in this black-and-white classic. What I love is how the importance of magic and make-believe is central to this sentimental story.

Home Alone (1978): Yeah, it's goofy and unbelievable. But, c'mon, the "battle scene" in the house is great slapstick humor and Roberts Blossom, as Harley, turns from threatening neighbor to cuddly grandpa by the end of the flick.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946): Everyone's favorite never grows old--the story of George Bailey and what life would have been like had he not existed is timeless. The all-star cast includes James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Thomas Mitchell.

And, now, it's time for the final two. Let me first qualify by saying that one isn't technically a movie but it's multi-year run as America's favorite Christmas special qualifies it for status on this list.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989):
This is the best of the "vacation" movies featuring Clark Griswold and family and the highlights are many--Clark's attempt to create the best "exterior illumination" display ever, the escapades of Cousin Eddie, and the all-too-familiar tension created by invading in-laws during the holidays. This movie shines with the one-liners which have woven their way into our vernacular, particularly at this time of year.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Yes, I know--this is not a movie but a television special which has now aired for 46 years! Charlie Brown, upset at the commercialism he sees around him, seeks the true meaning of Christmas. Leave it to Linus, Charlie's deep, even-tempered friend, to calmly explain it, reciting those wonderful lines from the gospel of Luke. Ever the klutz, Charlie gang of companions rally around him and display the wonder of this special season.

There, quite the list, isn't it? Happy viewing!

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