Christmas movies lift the spirits no matter what the time of year. Between Christmas and New Year’s though, it’s great to receive just an extra helping of joy, brotherhood, and love to end the year and start up the new one. Here are six films that carry the Christmas theme whenever you watch them.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – “Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other’s anonymous pen pal.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi3880622361
This film stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan and a number of other well-known actors from the 1930s and 40s. I’ve used this film to put me in a good mood and let me fall asleep for years. I know most the dialog and I enjoy every scene. The film has been re-done as “In the Good Old Summer Time” and “You’ve Got Mail” as well one of my favorite Broadway musicals: “She Loves Me.”
3 Godfathers (1948) – “Fugitive bank robbers Robert (John Wayne), William (Harry Carey Jr.) and Pedro (Pedro Armendáriz) stand at a desert grave. Caring for the newborn infant of the woman they just buried will ruin any chance of escape. But they won’t go back on their promise to her. They won’t abandon little Robert William Pedro. Director John Ford’s Western retelling of the Biblical Three Wise Men tale remains a scenic and thematic masterpiece. Ford adds color to his feature-film palette, capturing stunning vistas via cinematographer Winton C. Hoch, who would win two of his three Academy Awards for Ford films. Again, populist-minded Ford asserts that even men of dissolute character can follow that inner star of Bethlehem to their own redemption.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi3637576729
I’ve seen all of John Wayne’s films . . . many times. This particular one is right at the top of the list. Joining Wayne are Harry Carey Jr. and Pedro Armendáriz who have appeared in his other films as well. It’s like old home week . . . and a great story.
A Christmas Story (1983) – “In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi3470328089
I think we all know the catch phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” I got by BB gun as a surprise. It was hidden behind the table by our tree when I was in the seventh grade. I almost always knew what I was getting for Christmas, because I knew every hiding place in the house and out buildings for presents . . . plus, I hadn’t asked for a BB Gun. Six months after getting my gun I was sitting on the bank of Clover Creek shooting at a plastic model I’d made of the Merrimack (the Civil War ship). I shot the hull of the boat and it came right back at me. Luckily I closed my eyes and the BB bounced off my eyelid. I think of Clover Creek and my BB Gun every time I watch Ralphie in his epiphany in A Christmas Story.
Home Alone (1990) – “An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi490651929
Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci were well matched as inept burglars. It would have been easy to over-act, but they didn’t. Just the other night we were having dinner with friends and we talked about Stern and Pesci and laughed at the scenes in our re-telling them. We could see their expressions and hear their words in our minds.
Sleepless in Seattle, 1993 – “On Christmas Eve, Sam (on son Jonah’s initiative) ends up pouring his heart out on a national radio talk show about his magical and perfect marriage to Maggie, and how much he still misses her.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi727367449
The film features some of my favorite actors including Victor Garber who ad-libbed a sarcastic sequence in “Sleepless” about men crying in movies like The Dirty Dozen. Each time I re-watch the film, Jimmy Durante surprises me. I forget about him, and then his voice starts up and I wonder who made the choice and how could they know that his voice was so perfect. I remember seeing him on TV in the 50s. My parents loved him and I guess it rubbed off on me. Durante is like Louis Armstrong, a voice that’s not a great singer’s voice, but makes the connection between your ear and your heart.
Groundhog Day (1993) – “A self-centered Pittsburgh weatherman finds himself inexplicably trapped in a small town as he lives the same day over and over again.”
Official Trailer – imdb.com/video/vi1957600025
I have given a talk about Groundhog Day at Rotary and Exchange Club. There is really nothing about Christmas in the film, but the feeling of Christmas is what the main character finally achieves. Bill Murray is a curmudgeon. By repeating the same day over and over, he finally comes to have a change of heart and becomes a person that people respect and believe in. It’s that belief and the desire of wanting the best for the people we know and meet that’s makes the difference. We all can be better people and I love that feeling. That’s Christmas to me.
Sit down before the TV (or what ever means you use to see movies) have some home-popped popcorn, or eggnog, or fruitcake, or cookies, or whatever, and enjoy a movie that‘s guaranteed to make you feel better and more hopeful.