Before Hallmark, Netflix and Lifetime filled our heads with fairytale romances with awful scripts and the same plot, Christmas movies featured a variety of themes, genres and plots. Some funny, cute, dramatic, and all heartwarming enough to cool even Scrooge’s cold heart, they provided a variety to choose from that you would be hard pressed to find channel surfing or streaming today.
One exception to the modern glut of monotonous holiday fodder that I’ve found this season: Three Days of Christmas on Netflix. This Spanish thriller could be set on any day, but the events spread across three Christmases during the sisters’ lives make the plot more poignant. I would rather have subtitles over dubbed, but you get the same intensity in English or Spanish. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.
You can have your “Christmas Inheritance”, “Christmas Under the Stars”, “A Christmas Prince”, or this year’s version, “The Royal Baby” (and just because I mock them doesn’t mean I didn’t watch them), but I still prefer my classic Christmas flicks. Here are some of my favorites, and why they are always on the Meka Marquee during the holidays:
Meet Me in St Louis
While the movie takes place over the course of a year, I always feel like this is a Christmas movie because of Judy Garland’s hauntingly beautiful “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.
You can actually see this one on Netflix, unlike most of the others here which you have to rent or watch on DVD/Blu-ray. This is one of those movies that always brings a tear to my eye at the end, but I won’t spoil it for the unlucky ones who have never seen it! Plus- Vera-Ellen is an amazing dancer, and Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt) has an amazing voice. Yes, the group songs, “White Christmas” and “Snow” are the ones everyone remembers, but my favorite may be Clooney’s solo, “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me”.
The orginal version of “White Christmas” was in this movie. Like Meet Me in St Louis, the movie takes part over an entire year, but the best parts take place during Christmas.
Remade so many times I’ve lost count (two within the past year, in fact), and of course, adapted from the Louisa May Alcott novel that was my first love as a teenager). My favorite versions are the 1949 and 1994 versions starring June Allyson and Winona Ryder, respectively. Most of the story, like Holiday Inn and Meet Me In St. Louis, takes place during the entire year but the best parts are during Christmas! And yes, I’ll go see the latest version starring Saoirse Ronan, released Christmas Day.
The Bishop’s Wife
Yet another movie that was remade in the 1990s (with Denzel Washingtonin the Cary Grant role), but the original in 1947 was better. I mean, Cary Grant? Hello, gorgeous!
Christmas in Connecticut
Remade in the 1990s, the original is (as usual) much better, carrying more wit and sarcasm even though some of the plotline seems outdated. I can see this being remade into a Hallmark movie though with Candace Cameron Bure playing a Food Network vlogger with a vet returning from Afganistan dreaming about those dishes she “cooked” in her vlog.
Miracle on 34th Street
The 1947 version is the only one that could be considered. Mara Wilson is cute in the 1994 version, but how can you beat Natalie Wood schooling Santa?
Remember the Night
One of the Christmas movies I discovered on my own through my obsession with film noir movies, and thus, Fred McMurray. McMurray plays a lawyer and Barbara Stanwyck is the thief he is prosecuting. Of course, they have to spend Christmas together, and well, go watch it. I’m not going to give the entire plot away!
The Shop Around the Corner
The basis for You’ve Got Mail was set during the holidays in this Jimmy Stewart classic. Stewart, of course, plays his usual “aww shucks I’m just a regular Joe”.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Even though it’s an older movie, this is still one that I hope everyone has seen already. If not, why are you still here reading this?