Musty Monday – Unexpected Christmas Movies

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.

The Thin Man

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.*

The Best Years of Our Lives

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.

The Apartment

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.

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4 thoughts on “Musty Monday – Unexpected Christmas Movies

  1. I haven’t seen many of these movies- now I’m hoping for a week’s worth of snow days in the near future to watch some!

    I LOVED “Meet Me in St. Louis” when I was a kid. I always got kinda freaked out when Tootie went apeshit on the snow-people, though.

    One of my very favorite simple Christmas movies (well, a “special,” not a movie) has to be “Charlie Brown Christmas.” I love the music from Vince Guaraldi- it’s so nostalgic.

    • Ah! “Charlie Brown Christmas” is my mom’s favorite and she plays the sound track constantly. A couple years she insisted on having what she calls a “Charlie Brown tree” – all scraggly and pulled from our pasture.

  2. “Charlie Brown Christmas” was kind of a classic I’d forgotten about too, as I typically am forced to remember the four movies you mentioned in the beginning. I tried to think of some less traditional movies as well, and because I’m a boy, I came up with “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard” (both of which occur during Christmas, but it’s not really central to the plot).

    “Scrooged” (which I couldn’t help but enjoy because I’m a Dickens nerd) and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” also came to mind, the latter of which used to be on like four time a day when I was growing up, but I’d be content never watching that movie ever again.

    I’d actually settle for curling up and watching “Love, Actually” on Christmas, or even “Serendipity.” Speaking of Cusack, didn’t “Better Off Dead” occur during Christmas?

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