‘Tis the season for merry-making and movie-watching. Grab some hot chocolate. Plop in a peppermint stick. Gather the fam and get comfy. (Don’t forget the little’uns! Or the dog!) This is Mom’s 100% subjective, totally unscientific list of Best Christmas Movies Ever.
Several are well-known, perennial favorites. But you may find some surprises here. In fact, you may have never heard of some of these. All are worthwhile. How many do you recognize?
In no particular order:
1. A Thousand Men and a Baby (1997): Based on the true story about the men of the U.S.S. Point Cruz who break all of the rules in order to save an Amerasian infant abandoned at an American Army supply depot in 1953. Knowing that the baby boy will not survive in Korea, the men sneak him aboard their ship, nurse him back to health and find a way to get him to America so he may be adopted in time for Christmas.
2. White Christmas (1954): Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and a snowless Vermont. Okay. So it’s a little thin on a few essentials. Like a coherent plot. But who cares?
3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): When there’s no place like home for the holidays!
4. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971). A rural family awaits the return of their father on Christmas Eve. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia during the Depression. The pilot that launched The Waltons.
5. The Littlest Angel (1969): A little shepherd boy, newly arrived in Heaven, tries to adjust to life in the Hereafter.
6. Scrooge (1970): There have been about a zillion adaptations of this Charles Dickens chestnut. My favorite, by far, is the musical version starring Albert Finney. Thank you very, very, very much…
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). The original, animated version with Boris Karloff. (The remakes were awful.)
8. The Small One (1978): A young Judean boy tries to sell his beloved old donkey to someone who would care for him as much as he does.
9. The Christmas Box (1995). A poignant, heartwarming story of timeless truths about love, family, and faith. This seasonal classic stars Richard Thomas and Maureen O’Hara and is based on the Richard Paul Evans book of the same name. A perennial favorite, along with:
10. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). James Stewart and Donna Reed star in this wonderful film by Frank Capra. In a class by itself.
11. Babette’s Feast (1987). Based on a short story by Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa) about two sisters in a small Danish town who take in a French refugee woman from the Franco-Prussian War as their servant. A beautiful story of devotion and sacrifice, and grace.
Winner of the Best Foreign Film of that year, with easy-to-read-subtitles. Subtle but sumptuous!
12. Inn of the Sixth happiness (1958). Ingrid Bergman stars in this moving true story of a missionary, Gladys Aylward, who leads a group of children on a dangerous journey trough pre-WWII China. Includes a re-telling of the Christmas story from Luke 2.
13. The Scarlet and the Black (1983). Made for TV. True story of a priest, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, (Gregory Peck) who harbored Allied POW escapees during WWII and the Nazi official (Christopher Plummer) who tries to catch him.
The film has little to do with Christmas other than the examination of the life of a man who was affected by Christ. The film is long – about 155 minutes. But the message at the end is not to be missed.
14. Prancer (1989). Sam Elliot delivers one of his finest performances as a down-on-his-luck farmer and recently widowed dad. His young daughter, Jessica, nurses a wounded reindeer she believes is one of Santa’s, hoping to bring it back to health in time for Christmas. Her holiday spirit inspires those around her. But Dad doesn’t get it.