It’s Thanksgiving week and everyone (and by everyone, I mean retailers) is rolling out the Christmas decorations. There are certain movies that are considered Christmas classics – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (with Hermey the elf and the scary abominable snow man!), A Christmas Story (You’ll shoot your eye out!), It’s A Wonderful Life (I’ll give you the moon, Mary.), and White Christmas (Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOOOOWWWW). However, the classics play over and over and sometimes it’s good to throw some others into the mix. Many of my favorite movies that remind me of Christmas don’t have Christmas-centric plots, and a few have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas but still put me in a Christmas mood.
I’ve already mentioned my love of The Thin Man. Loy and Powell’s banter is spot on (and enviable, doesn’t it look like they’re having fun?). It’s about a reluctant retired detective and his eager wife trying to find the missing “Thin Man,” but it contains my favorite Christmas scene ever. There’s also a pretty rocking Christmas party. Plus, the only person who gets the “round up all the suspects in one room to reveal the murderer” scene better is Agatha Christie. Watch it in your fur coat with a pitcher of martinis.*
If you get sick of It’s A Wonderful Life but still want a taste of bittersweet sentimentality, try this. Also starring Myrna Loy, this explores the lives of three returning soldiers and their families after the close of World War II. Of note is the performance by Harold Russell, a paratrooper who had lost both of his arms. He won an Academy Award for his first and only role. It’s a bit sentimental but still relevant – war still affects everyone differently. Caveat – I don’t think there is a Christmas scene. Watch it with a milkshake and a handkerchief.
Jack Lemmon is wonderful as the clueless and naive yes-man and Shirley MacLaine is by turns charming, spunky and tragic. No, it’s not about Christmas, but the main action happens during Christmas. Plus, let’s face it, sometimes all that cheery happy peace and love goodness can get overwhelming, and this is the perfect anecdote – just the right mix of humor, drama, and heartbreak. Watch it in front of the Christmas tree with some spaghetti and meatballs and a Tom & Jerry, skip the sleeping pills.
Some other favorites include: Christmas in Connecticut (baby-switching and hijinks galore!), The Shop Around the Corner (Jimmy Stewart! It’s the inspiration for both You’ve Got Mail and In the Good Old Summertime), Meet me in St. Louis (Two words: Judy Garland), Little Women (pick your version – but I like the one with June Allyson as Jo), and Holiday (Hepburn and Grant are hilarious together).
What are your favorite Christmas movies?
*I’ve included links to full versions on YouTube for reference, but if you haven’t seen any of these yet, do yourself a favor and rent a copy.
**All movie poster images from Wikipedia.