When cold weather drives us indoors, what is better than to make hot chocolate and watch a wonderful movie about Christmas?
Here are some films for your consideration.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star in this classic about a really decent man who has a turn of bad fortune and is set straight after an angel shows him the alternate life he wished for was not that great. And this has such a wonderful ending as his friends and family rally to his rescue.
This is one to watch over and over.
Miracle on 34th Street
Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn star in this tale of a department store Santa who truly captures the spirit of how special Christmas is. He even makes the federal government prove the existence of Santa Claus.
This musical comedy by Irving Berlin stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. A pair of hot shot night club entertainers teams with a couple of sisters to help out a friend from the Army. This film is filled with wonderful Christmas songs and a special sentimentality that characterized the 1950s and the aftermath of World War II.
(Holiday Inn is pretty much White Christmas in black and white).
This film has a few problems (but not as many as the sequel). This John Hughes movie stars Macaulay Culkin as a young boy accidentally left behind when his family flies to Paris at Christmas. Apart from some silliness and some cartoonish violence, there is an important message about not taking your family for granted and the value of reconciliation, particularly at Christmas.
This is a particularly silly film with a surprisingly charming performance by Will Ferrell. James Caan, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner and Zooey Deschanel round out a very entertaining cast. The story is that one of Santa’s elves discovers that he is really a human and he returns to New York City to find his long lost father. The fresh innocence of Elf is particularly appealing in a Christmas film. And it emphasizes faith (although it is misplaced in Santa Claus and it completely ignore Jesus – the real Reason for the season.)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
This delightful animated classic from 1965 has hapless Charlie Brown searching for the true meaning of Christmas. The Peanuts gang pans the over-commercialization and secularization of Christmas while concluding that the birth of Jesus Christ is the real reason to celebrate. The voices of the characters were children and the jazz score is special. There is no laugh track (which was almost mandatory back then). This is a warm and sentimental journey back to a better time.
Frosty the Snowman
The animation is truly outdated but the voices of the late Jimmy Durante (his last performance on film) and Jackie Vernon make this worth a visit. The story is that a snowman magically comes to life. Little kids should enjoy this romp.
The Christmas Shoes
This was a made-for-TV movie in 2002 starring Rob Lowe. If you listen to Christmas music on the radio this time of year, you have heard The Christmas Shoes by the Christian group NewSong. This gripping song tells the story of a little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother at Christmas. He is short of cash, and the man behind him in the line at the store, learns a lesson about sacrificial giving at Christmas. It’s a real tear jerker and the movie follows the theme of the song.
A Christmas Story
We see a clear picture of Christmas in America in the 1950s through the eyes of Ralphie. His dad wins the famous “leg lamp” and his mom washes his mouth out with soap after he says a bad word. Ralphie’s imagination and the unique narration makes this a must-see Christmas classic.
A Christmas Carol
The late George C. Scott plays the classic Scrooge in this made-for-TV masterpiece. A bitter miser changes his tune about Christmas and loving others as three ghosts show him the perspective of his family and acquaintances.
A Christmas Snow
This is a marvelous Christmas movie based on a book by our own Jim Stovall. Catherine Mary Stewart and Muse Watson star in this woman who has rejected Christmas because her father abandoned their family when she was a girl and how she recaptures the true meaning of Christmas. This is another one to watch over and over again.
And if these movies don’t provide enough entertainment or if you can’t find them, try watching reruns of the late Andy Williams’ Christmas Shows. And there are some fantastic concerts on some cable channels during the Christmas season.