I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for schlocky Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. But there are good Christmas movies, too, and I always try to make time for one or two of them every year, and some I don't mind seeing every year. From time to time, people put together lists of the "best" Christmas movies of all time, and I found a good one the other day at PJ Media by John Ellis. He picks seven movies. Counting from No. 7 to No. 1, they are:
A Christmas Carol (the 1951 version with Alastair Sim as Scrooge)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 original, not the 1994 remake)
A Christmas Story
It's a Wonderful Life
(Trailers for all the movies are at the link)
The only movie I'd take off the list is the one he picked for No. 1, White Christmas. Ellis applauds it for showcasing "the best of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen as they sing and dance to spirited numbers, humorous exchanges, and moving songs culminating in one of the twentieth century's most endearing Christmas carols." But I find it -- hang on there -- too old-fashioned and therefore hard to get into.
So I'd keep the other six, making It's a Wonderful Life my No. 1 of all time. And I'd probably move A Christmas Carol up to No. 2. And I'd add four more to the mix to come up with a "10 Best Christmas movies of all time" list.
Bad Santa (trailer) -- Bily Bob Thornton at his evil best.
Shop Around the Corner (trailer) -- if the plot of this 1940 Jimmy Stewart movie seems familiar, it should. It was ripped off for "You've Got Mail."
Remember the Night (trailer) -- This silly 1940 confection starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck has as its centerpiece a trip to spend Christmas in Wabash, Ind. What's fun about watching this movie is realizing that just a few years later, Fred and Barbara would co-star again, this time as cold-blooded killers in Double Indemnity, one of the darkest film noirs of the '40s.
Stalag 17 (trailer) -- the previews label it a comedy, but I's say its more a drama with comedic undertones. Some people would call this one a cheat, since the movie is set at Christmastime, which doesn't necessarily make it a "Christmas" move. But I think it qualifies if the spirit of the season is captured in the movie.
Other movies in this category include The Apartment (my first runner-up), Lethal Weapon, Die Hard and Trading Places. The scenes with Dan Akroyd as a drunken Santa certainly infuse Trading Places with the Christmas spirit.