A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)- The first Peanut TV feature and the longest running cartoon special in history. Charlie Brown finds himself depressed at Christmas time, searching for the true meaning of Christmas amidst the commercialism of the season. Snoopy is no help because he and Woodstock are busy stringing lights on his doghouse for a decoration contest. Things get worse when Charlie Brown is fired from directing the school pageant, then ridiculed because he chose a spindly evergreen twig instead of a shiny aluminum tree. It all gets out of hand until Linus realizes Charlie Brown is right. They see the beauty in the tree and the real meaning of Christmas as Linus recites the story of Jesus' birth. His voice sets a tone full of wonder. This is my favorite scene followed by the children singing Hark The Herald Angels Sing .
Can't you hear Linus' voice
"...And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
A Christmas Carol (1938)- Charles Dickens classic starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Cratchit. You know the drill on this great story but it doesn't hurt to be reminded at least once a year.
A Christmas Story (1983)- Story of Ralphie (Peter Billingsly) the year he did everything possible to convince his parents to buy him a Red Rhyder BB gun for Christmas despite admonitions that he could "put your eye out". Narrated by grown up Ralphie with such love and wit and fake heroics of Ralphies thoughts absolutely captures the emotions and logic of childhood. There are many adventures including Ralphie's friend's tongue stuck to the flag pole and the bunny suit. Darren McGavin as the irritable foul mouthed father is beyond funny.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)- Frank Capra classic with Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi. George Bailey gets a glimpse of what the world would have been without him. Excellent and hopeful.
Miracle on 34th Street(1947)- An amazing testament to making room for imagination and fantasy and belief for belief's sake.
Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmond Gwen star. I love the scene when the prosecutors son testifies for the defense of Kris Kringle.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)- Animated feature based on the book by Dr. Suess. I actually saw it for the first time this year, I don't know why. I am adding it to my favorites because I enjoyed the songs the rhyme and Boris Karloff as narrator and Grinch.
Home Alone (1990)- Eight year old (Macaulay Culkin) is accidentally left behind when his family flies to France for Christmas. Enter the goofy burglars. Joe Pesci and the great Catherine O'Hara. Holiday romp for sure.
Frosty The Snowman (1969)- Frosty Along with Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa Clause Is Coming To Town are the videos every child should have in their collection. Frosty is the best coming to life the help with a magical top hat. Jimmy Durante narrates, Jackie Vernon is Frosty.
Bells of St. Mary (1945) Bing Crosby plays Father O'Malley coming from a big city Catholic school, to the small parish of Sister Benedict played by Ingrid Bergman. They have different ways of handling everything from the children to how to save the school from closing. I love Bergman teaching a boy to defend himself and then secretly watching him fight. I also enjoy the title song sung by the nuns. The harmony is beautiful. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, won for best sound. Heartwarming.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) Elia Kazan's first film is about the poor turn of the century Nolan family. Dorothy Mcquire is Katie Nolan who tries to hold things together and does. Johnny Nolan (James Dunn) is an alcoholic charmer with big dreams but no job. He is a doting father always promising, seldom delivering, but he is full of dreams and faith in his children especially young Francie (Peggy Ann Garner). Joan Blondell is Aunt Sissy the often married sister of Katie. Get your hankies ready for the emotional impact of this script and performances. Excellent.
Three Godfathers (1948) John Ford directed this film about three outlaws on the run, John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr., and Pedro Armendáriz, who help a stranded woman (Mildred Natwick) deliver a baby. They promise the dying mother to take the child to safety across the desert to the town of New Jerusalem. Lots of angst and funny scenes. I mean, John Wayne and a baby in the desert. But your heart strings and sense of justice get a workout too. Beautifully photograhed.
Holiday (1935) Directed by George Cukor, this is not only my favorite Christmas film but one of my all time favorites. Johnny Case (Cary Grant) falls for a millionaire's daughter and finds himself loaded down with obligations and expectations from her father. Johnny soon finds that Linda Seaton (Katherine Hepburn) and her brother Ned (Lew Ayres) are the black sheep of the Seaton family because they do not worship money and are not frozen into a conceited shallow lifestyle. Edward Everett Horton is marvelous as Johnny's best friend who is so out of place in the Seaton mansion until he goes up to Linda's playroom. I love the scenes in the playroom with the snobby cousins who have no idea why they Linda and Ned like it. Heart, wit and drama is Holiday.