Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Ten Best Christmas Movies

There seem to be an endless array of "Christmas" movies to view during this miraculous and grace-filled season. Some have little to do with the real meaning and spirit of Christmas, while are others, although they don't actually share the Christmas story itself share the true meaning of the season. Some are great Christmas classics that bring joy and love to your heart. This is such a beautiful time of the year and the flame of love burns brightly in our hearts -- self-giving, in emulation of our Savior, is what Christmas is all about.

Here are my ten best (favorite) Christmas films-the ones I enjoy watching over and over every Christmas.

10. Come to the Stable (1949) Two French nuns who are determined to fulfill a promise made to God for saving a hospital from destruction during World War II, Sister Margaret (Loretta Young) and Sister Scholastica (Celeste Holm) arrive in Connecticut with the dream of building a children's hospital. All they need is land and money. They already have the most essential ingredient--faith. This film, filled with charm and humor, earned several academy awards. I love the faith that these young nuns have and how the lives of people in the film are changed by their bold witness to their faith. Interesting movie trivia: On the set, Loretta Young made people put money in a jar if they used the name of the Lord in vain. Thus, she earned the nickname "Attila the Nun."

9. The Fourth Wise Man (1985) "The Fourth Wise Man," based on the moving story, "The Story of the Other Wise Man" by 19th century writer Henry Van Dyke, traces a life-long search of a wealthy court physician and astronomer in ancient Persia named Artaban (Martin Sheen), who dedicates his life to finding the Messiah. Along the way, he give his gifts to needy people, leaving him with no offerings whatsoever. However, he attains the true gifts of God: faith, hope, and love, and ultimately, peace.

8. White Christmas (1954) Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye play war buddies turned entertainers who fall for two sisters in this Christmas classic. The boys follow the girls to a resort owned by their former commanding officer, who is in danger of losing the place. This is a great comedy, romance, and lavishly produced musical that features Bing Crosby's famous song "White Christmas." The beautiful story of a Christmas "miracle," it will warm your heart!

7. Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009)  This is a brilliantly realized animated version of the Dickens classic with Jim Carrey playing Scrooge. Though too scary for younger children, this version features a superb performance by Carrey and wonderful animation. It also has some of the strongest Christian content of all the versions, especially in its inspiring use of famous Christmas carols mentioning our need for salvation in Jesus Christ. By the way, I enjoy all the other versions of A Christmas Carol, too, some more than others.

6. Going My Way (1944) In one of cinema's most charming pairings, Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald star in this classic musical drama that tells the tale of singing Father O'Malley (Crosby), sent to take over the aging and cantankerous Father Fitzgibbon's (Fitzgerald) parish. Winner of seven Oscars, including Best Picture, the film features one of Crosby's best-loved tunes, "Swinging on a Star." The Christmas scene at the end is particularly moving, but the entire film will win you over. This is a nostalgic and heartwarming story that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.

5. Christmas in Connecticut (1945) This film is hilarious and is one of the funniest Christmas films I have seen! Barbara Stanwyck stars in this post-war holiday romantic comedy as Elizabeth Lane, a magazine columnist, whose holiday recipe articles get her into hot water, when she is asked to entertain a returning war veteran (Dennis Morgan) and her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet).This also stars Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. and "Cuddles" Sakall (the sweet, amusing Hungarian actor that we all love). Heart-warming, funny, and satisfying! Treat yourself to some real entertainment. 

4. The Bishop's Wife (1947) This Christmastime angelic intervention sparkles with good humor. In this enchanting classic, Dudley the angel (Cary Grant) is sent to help an Episcopalian bishop (David Niven) and his wife (Loretta Young) survive their attempt to finance a new cathedral and the strain it's putting on their marriage. The film was remade in 1996 as The Preacher's Wife. This superb movie contains winsome dialog, strong theological references to Jesus Christ, the Christmas story told in Bible readings, song and drama, constant references to God, biblical references to the church holding the neighborhood together, rebuking temptation, upholding the law of God, honoring marriage, commending prayer, lifting up salvation, and extolling forgiveness. Movies don't get much better than this.

3. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) If you are Catholic and you have not seen this film yet, you are really missing out. This is a must see. In this follow-up to director Leo McCarey's Going My Way (1944), Bing Crosby repeats his Oscar-winning performance as the congenial young priest Father O'Malley. Father O'Malley is sent to help out the financially strapped St. Mary's Academy, which is presided over by Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). The two differ in their ideas on teaching styles and there is a friendly rivalry between them. A huge hit at the box office, Bells of St. Mary's was nominated for nine Academy Awards. This is one of my personal favorites, as there is so much nostalgia and humor in it. 

2. The Shop Around the Corner (1940) A Christmas romantic comedy classic starring James Stewart Margaret Sullavan  and Frank Morgan. The film is about two employees at a gift shop in Budapest who can barely stand each another, not realizing they're falling in love as anonymous correspondents through their letters. Later remakes of this movie include In the Good Old Summertime (1949), which starred Judy Garland and Van Johnson in the title roles and You've Got Mail (1998) with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, in which one of the protagonists owns a bookstore named "The Shop Around The Corner." This is a sweet, sentimental film that has a satisfying ending. You'll fall in love with it! Did I mention that my husband loves this movie, too?

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Who doesn't love this great Christmas classic? This Christmas drama was produced and directed by Frank Capra, that was based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema. In this bittersweet comedy-drama, an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman (James Stewart) by showing him what life would have been like if he never existed. Other stars in the film include Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. This is a film that has the potential to change your way of looking at life -- appreciating all that God has given you and done for you.

I hope that you will take a look at the films on my list and that they fill your heart with peace, love, and joy this Christmas season. God bless you all and Merry Christmas everyone!


Sharon said...

Ok, here's a crazy one to suggest - Christmas Vacation, edited version. You can still get them edited! I know, crass compared to the ones you've mentioned, but when Christie B and other parts are taken out, you see a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for his family. I like it!

Dianne Wood said...

A total tear jerker All Mine to Give (British title: The Day They Gave Babies Away) a 1957 Technicolor melodrama film starring Glynis Johns, Cameron Mitchell, and Rex Thompson. When first one parent, then the other dies, six children have to look after themselves in the American west of the mid-19th century.

This story is based on a true-life story set in Wisconsin, based on an article The Day They Gave Babies Away by Dale Eunson and Katherine (Albert) Eunson, which first appeared in the December 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan.

On Christmas Day the eldest son has to find home for all his siblings. Amazing story.

Maggie Scheck Geene said...

Here's a new one, but worth watching: Lost Christmas. A tale of redemption and how one simple act impacts so many people.