It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
This is probably the Christmas movie of all time. George Bailey (James Stewart) has a lot of problems and it's so bad, that he wants to end his life. He dreamed of getting out of the dull town he grew up in, but something always got in the way and when financial problems are added to it, he decides to jump of a bridge into the river. God has sent Angel Clarence to help George and rescues him, but George gets angry at him and wishes he was never born... Wish granted! George walks through the town he was never born in and sees how everthing is different. For his parents, his wife (Donna Reed) and the town - it's the difference that he made. And it all happends right before Christmas.
Why watch it? It's a Wonderful Life is a feel good movie that shows you life isn't as bad as you think it is. It tells you to look at the little things in life and how those things matter more. It's the ultimate Christmas movie, in the way that makes you think about compassion, friends and love. Watch this and you won't be dissapointed!
White Christmas (1954)
Everybody knows the song, but do they know the movie? White Christmas starts with Christmas 1944 during World War Two where Captain Wallace (Bing Crosby) - who is a famous singer/entertainer - and soldier Davis (Danny Kaye) entertain the American troops with songs and sketches. After Davis saves Wallace while they were under attack, Wallace is sort of manipulated into coming together and becoming one of the most famous acts in showbizz history. While in Florida, they decide to go to two sisters of an old army buddy, the Haynes sisters, and they fall for their charmes. Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera - Ellen) have some problems, so Davis helps them by giving them their train tickets. Tickets Davis and Wallace were using to go away for the holidays. So Wallace and Davis buy extra tickets and they end up going to Vermont together (all four of them) to have a wonderful Christmas. Unfortunatly there isn't any snow, so the local in - run by Wallace and Davis' former Colonel - is about to close. That's why Davis and Wallace decide to do their entire show there, to drum up some people for the inn. But will it work in time to save the inn?
Why watch it? There's the song 'White Christmas' for one. Then there's Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, hellooo! It's so sunny all the time, that it doens't really feel like a Christmas movie, but it's about Christmas and the Christmas spirit (a lot of Christmas movies are about financial issues, apparently). White Christmas is a classic musical, filled with songs, big sets and beautiful dance numbers. Perfect for the holidays!
Meet Me in St Louis (1944)
The movie starts with a household singing 'Meet Me in St Louis', because the World's Fair will be in St Louis in 1904 - which is where they live. When the movie starts it's 1903 and they have a year to prepare and look forward to this very big event. But father Smith soon breaks the hearts of his wife and four daughters by saying that he has been promoted to be a director of the company.... in New York. So they will have to move in January and miss the Fair. The ladies don't want to leave their lives and friends and possible boyfriends. This movie has an interesting way of depicting one year in the lives of the family Smith, with celebrations such as house parties, falling in love, All Hallow's Eve and of course Christmas.
Why watch it? I love this movie! And it's not just because Judy Garland stars in it. There are so many nice songs in there (The Trolley Song, The Boy Next Door and Skip to My Loo) and it's a well rounded story. All the family members have something going on, which doesn't get dull one minute. You get a look in the lives of a family and it feels very natural. Even the songs! You have to wait a bit for the Christmas part though, because it's at the end, but I love watching this movie pretty much every year just for this song (in it's original version): <3
A Christmas Carol
I think this needs no explanation or summery... There's a reason why it's a classic. Everybody should know Charles Dickens' story about Scrooge and the night he was visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future. There have been many, many, many movie adaptations from the book, so take your pick. In a later blog I will name two very nice adaptations for kids, that I really like.
Whether you see it as a ballet performance, an animation film, a movie with actors or any other way, it doesn't matter. This story belongs to Christmas. On Christmas Eve family and friends have gathered to decorate the Christmas tree and when they are done the children are sent for. Herr Drosselmeyer - godfather of Clara and Fritz and toymaker - has brought with him several presents, including a wooden nutcracker in the shape of a little man. Clara immediatly likes it, but Fritz breaks it on purpose. Once everybody has gone to bed, Clara returns to get the Nutcracker. Once the clock strikes twelve, a war ensues. The Nutcracker grows to lifesize, leading Gingerbread man soldiers to war against the three headed Mouse King and his mice. But is Clara dreaming or is it all reality?
The story was once written by Hoffmann's as The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. When it was turned into a two act ballet performance, the score was composed by none other than Tchaikovsky (nuff said :P).
Why watch it? I can't believe it, but while writing this, I was trying to find the one I watched as a kid. The animated version and this is the one (watch vid above). It turned out to be a Russian animiation from 1973 (:O). I didn't like the drawing much (and the story isn't entirely the same), but the story and the music of The Nutcracker will always be beautiful. Sometimes there's not much that has to be said about it... It's classical ballet and it's a Christmas classic.
Sissi (Trilogy 1955/1956/1957)
I almost forgot this one, but it's on a German or Belgium channel every year. It's the romantisized story about Sissi who becomes a Young Empress (at the age of sixteen I believe) in Austria. There's a lot of drama (because of etiquette that she's not familiar with or has problems with), love and laughs - mostly thanks to Sissi and her right hand 'Herr Bockl'. It's all very grand, an epic Christmas story, with wonderful sights (mountains, palaces you name it), and a-ma-zing actors. Best way to tell you, is to show you. Unfortunately I couldn't find a trailer with subs, so I hope it's understandable:
Why watch it? It's three long movies, but the story is beautiful. It's a story about love and doing what's right for the country. Having to put yourself and your needs in second place. Romy Schneider is at her best, her mother Magda Schneider and the handsome Karlheinz Böhm are in it as well. The movies have beautiful sets, costumes, music and it's very funny as well. Let's not forget some great lines, like "Eine Kaiserin gehört zum Kaiser!" or
Sissi: "Wir bekommen ein Kind!"
Fransz: "Ist das War? Sissi, ist das werklich war?!"
Sissi: "Ja, ja!"
Wonderful... For some reason, I always remember those lines. LOL... Just watch it and you'll see ;-).
The Little Princess (1939)
I grew up with this movie, that stars Shirley Temple. It's a beautiful story about a little girl - Sara - (Shirley Temple) who's mother has died and who's father (Ian Hunter) is in a captain in the military. Because he has to fight in the war (Africa), he leaves her in an exclusive seminary for girls to be looked after. On her birthday there's a big celebration, but it ends abruptly when the principal gets a note saying that the captain has died. Because Sara has no place to go and no money, she has the work for the mean principal. Instead of her big beautiful room, she stays with the other little girl that works there, Becky, in the attic. All the while other stories take place between teachers, the neighbour and the fellow seminary girls. The good hearted Sara can't believe her father is dead, so everyday she goes to the military hospital to go look for her father... Will she find him?
Why watch it? I'm not sure it's an actual Holiday movie, but I do remember watching it during the holidays. The Little Princess is a sweet story about a girl who had everything and loses it all. Instead of dwelling on how bad things have gotten, she remains a daughter full of hope that she'll find her father. Shirley Temple was a kid star back then and she's adorable in every movie she's in. Other than that, this movie has a back story for everyone. Truly a classic. You can find it full on YouTube.
The Stowaway (1936) and other oldies
The Stowaway is not really a Christmas movie either, it's just old and has Shirley Temple in it as well. I do believe that it ends with Christmas though. For some reason I just think that oldies like these are perfect for watching during the Holidays. If you like watching oldies/classics like this, I also think many Judy Garland movies are appropriate. Like The Wizard of Oz, For Me and My Gal, Easter Parade and A Star is Born. Must be something with musicals, haha.
Why watch it? The Stowaway for Shirley Temple again, as well as the songs. It's a feel good movie with cuteness, comedy and romance. Need I say more? As far as the Judy Garland movies go: Who wouldn't want to watch a good old musical with Garland? They are all filled with beautiful songs and other great names like Fred Astaire. That's all you need to know, really ;-).
Well, that's the classics for my first Christmas movies list. Hope you get some good ideas from it and if not, check out my next blog for some more ideas!