Christmas is fast approaching, so it’s time to break out the projector, make some hot chocolate and settle in to watch some of those classic Christmas movies that we all remember so fondly. New Christmas films are released every year, but there is nothing quite like those Christmas favourites that we watch time and time again.
Here are our top picks for classic Christmas movies to watch this year.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas fantasy drama from 1946 starring James Stewart as a man called George Bailey, who has given up his dreams to help others. Following his suicide on Christmas Eve, a guardian angel appears to show George how he has affected the lives of others and how different life would be for his wife and his community if he had never been born.
Not only is this film considered one of the best Christmas films of all time, but it is actually considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. It was nominated for five Academy Awards and in 1990 it was added to the National Film Registry.
Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Irving Berlin star together in the seasonal classic Holiday Inn. Two of these performers, Ted and Lila, set off on their own while the third, Jim, retires to a farm. After a while, he realises the farm life isn’t for him, and he opens an inn that is only open on major holidays. Things seem to be going well for Jim until his old partner Ted shows up and has his sights set on the woman Jim has become smitten with.
This film introduced the world to the Christmas hit White Christmas, which went on to become an iconic song, going on to be the inspiration for another Christmas film in 1954.
Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street has both an original classic and a fantastic reboot, but we will always hold a special place in our hearts for the 1947 version starring Maureen O’Hara and John Payne. Winning three Academy Awards and being preserved in the Academy Film Archive, Miracle on 34th Street tells the tale of an old man filling in for a mall Santa in the Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. He proves such a hit that he becomes a regular at the chain’s main shop in midtown Manhattan. When the man surprises customers and employees by revealing he is in fact the real Santa Claus, it leads to a court case where he must prove his authenticity.
The film spawned from the song, White Christmas is a 1954 musical filmed in Technicolour and is noted for being the first film to be released in VistaVision. Following World War II, Bob (Bill Crosby) and Phil (Danny Kaye) team up to become a song and dance act. Bob introduces Phil to a pair of sisters (Betty and Judy) who also have a song and dance act. Together they go to a Vermont lodge to perform in a Christmas show, and the men find that their former commander is the lodge owner. A succession of romantic mix-ups follow as the performers try to help the General.
Meet Me in St Louis
Acting legend July Garland stars in Meet Me in St Louis, a musical about a family preparing to move to New York. The film covers the year before the relocation and focuses on the four sisters’ education in the ways of the world and includes them learning about life and love.
While Christmas only plays a small role in the film, this picture gave us the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which merits it a place as a holiday favourite.
Babes in Toyland
Babes in Toyland – also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers – is a Laurel and Hardy Christmas musical that was released in 1934. Based on an operetta of the same name, Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try to borrow money from their employer, a toymaker, to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep’s shoe and keep Little Bo Peep safe from the evil Barnaby. After that fails, they trick Barnaby into marrying Stanley rather than Bo Peep, causing him to unleash bogeymen to destroy Toyland.
Christmas in Connecticut
Finally, we have this 1945 classic romantic comedy Christmas film, Christmas in Connecticut. A food writer who lies in her columns about living life in an idyllic country setting with her children must cover up her deception when a returning war hero and her boss invite themselves over for Christmas dinner.