Christmas “Must See” Films

I am going to leave “A Christmas Carol” and the Christmas Story to the  gazillion adaptations that have come our way over the years and recommend some of Holiday films you may have never heard about.  These are worth a rent and for some, a buy. Enjoy something different this Christmas.


Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 

Barbara Stanwyck stars as a famous expert on marriage, cooking and homemaking who is asked by her publisher to host a national hero for Christmas dinner at her famous Connecticut home. It should be simple, but she must scramble to keep the secret that she’s single, can’t cook and doesn’t own a home. With a lot of help, meticulous planning and split-second timing, the urban sophisticate may succeed . . . but the unforeseen happens when she falls in love with her guest in this classic romantic comedy.


Little Lord Fauntleroy 1936

If you are like me, and really fond of this old gem, do yourself a favor and get this version. It is a vast improvement on any other version I have seen, having been made from an original studio archival print, apparently. It is not perfect, but is close. There is some tiny sparkle in a few scenes, and one or two short damage places that should have been fixed. Far too many public domain versions have been released over the years that are pretty dismal in quality. Lots of talented performers in this film, and the camera work shows the care that was taken on many of the old black & white classics.

Personally, my favorite of all the adaptations.


The Bishop’s Wife  1947

Heavenly bells are ringing, jubilant choirs are singing and Christmas joy is blanketing the world like freshly fallen snow. But the Yuletide spirit has yet to warm Bishop Henry Brougham’s Victorian home. Struggling to raise funds for a new cathedral, the preoccupied young clergyman has neglected his loving wife Julia, and now only divine intervention can save their marriage! But the powerful and handsome angel sent from above has a mind of his own and teaching mortal Henry an immortal lesson inromance isn’t all he’s got planned! Starring Oscar(r) winners* Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, and featuring “a stellar supporting cast” (The Hollywood Reporter) that includes James Gleason and Monty Woolley, this delightful romantic comedy is wondrous, witty and truly divine! *Grant, Honorary Oscar (1969); Young, Actress, The Farmer’s Daughter (1947); Niven, Actor, Separate Tables (1958)

Full Movie found on YouTube


Remember the Night  1940

Screen legends Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in the heartwarming holiday classic Remember the Night (1940). Lee Leander (Stanwyck) is a petty shoplifter on trial for swiping an expensive bracelet from a local jewelry store. When her trial is postponed until after New Year’s, sympathetic Assistant District Attorney John Sargent (MacMurray) bails her out of jail. Together, they find themselves falling in love when he invites her to his family’s home for the holidays where she discovers the warmth and love she’s never had but always wanted. Featuring a wonderful supporting cast (Beulah Bondi, Sterling Holloway and Elizabeth Patterson), stylish costumes by Edith Head, a charming script by Preston Sturges, and superb direction by Mitchell Leisen, Remember the Night (1940) is a timeless holiday favorite that can be enjoyed every season.


It’s a Wonderful Life 1946

A timeless Classic.

This is director Frank Capra’s classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it’s Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey’s dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George’s life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist (H.B. Warner) to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury. Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life. Capra’s first production through his newly-formed Liberty Films, It’s a Wonderful Life lost money in its original run, when it was perceived as a fairly downbeat view of small-town life. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday classic.


The Christmas Card 2006

This is not a period drama film but I find myself watching it during the year because of the romance in it. I recommend this highly.  (Hallmark)

Once in a while; a movie comes along that reminds us how powerful love can be. In the midst of war in Afghanistan; Captain Codey Cullen (John Newton; “Desperate Housewives”) is touched by a lovely card sent by Faith Spelman (“The Chris Isaak Show”) from the small picturesque town of Nevada City; California. As months pass; the card never leaves his side; giving him the strength to survive and setting him on a mission to find her. When Cody returns to the States; he finds himself coincidentally welcomed by her family and friends; but he remains hesitant to reveal the fateful connection that brought him to her. As a new Christmas approaches; Cody has one last opportunity to prove his courage – by taking a chance on love and finding the woman; the home; and the life he’s always wanted.

Full movie on Youtube.

More to be added.