Thanksgiving dinner is over and now it is time to get down to some serious business. That task is to pick out some great Christmas movies to watch over the next several weeks.
It is true the Hallmark Channel has an ever-non-stop showing of holiday features, but try to remember the titles of just the last three you watched. Hint: They probably have the word Christmas in them.
Most of the Hallmark shows have similar plots that can be figured out in the first 15 minutes. At the same time they are always “feel good” stories. Most of us cannot help watching them none the less.
We are talking here about some all-time favorites that appeared on the big silver screen at the neighbor movie houses.
Following is my baker’s dozen list of the old favorites. Since it would be impossible to list them from top favorite down, they are listed by the year released.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004) A married couple with only daughter not coming home for the holiday want to skip the Christmas hassle. Can’t do it, but not for lack of trying. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis are the perfect stars here.
I’ll be Home for Christmas (1998) A college student is stranded by himself a 1,000 miles from home without money or means. He must get home before holiday to get the new car his dad has promised him. Problems with a girlfriend is also a factor. Troubles come often.
Jingle All the Way (1996) What parents have not battled the war of finding the wanted most popular yet sold out toy? Watching Arnold Schwarzenegger in this comedy is a delight. Spoiler alert: Arny doesn’t shoot or hit anyone.
Home Alone (1990) A parent’s nightmare but what a time for a youngster as his family accidentally leaves him home when they go on holiday trip. He proves to be a smart kid against a pair of want-to-be burglars.
National Lampoon Christmas Vacation (1989) Good old hard-trying dad Chevy Chase wants his family to have the perfect holiday. What he doesn’t count on is expected extended family guests and not getting his Christmas bonus. Sunshades may be needed when he plugs in the house lights.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) Fate keeps a couple of strangers coming together as both try to get home on Christmas Eve. Each problem gets worse. The teaming of John Candy and Steve Martin matches the older Abbott-Costello and Bing Crosby-Bob Hope features.
A Christmas Story (1983) All Ralphie wants from Santa Claus is an official Red Ryder BB gun. Mom knows he will shoot his eye out if he gets one. This is the same Mom who dresses him up in a pink full size bunny snow suit. This one also provides key lesson about tongues and icy flag poles.
A Christmas Carol (1951) The Dickens tale has been filmed several times over the year but this one with Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge may be the best. Slow moving and most familiar plot but still one that holds the viewer to the final “God bless us, every one.”
The Bishop’s Wife (1948) An angel that is as handsome as Cary Grant (it is Cary) comes to Earth to help a bishop that has forgotten true Christmas spirit. With help from above, the angel can do no wrong. While there is no hanky panky between angel and wife, the bishop is not sure. The ‘96 remake with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston was entitled The Preacher’s Wife.
Mircle on 34th Street (1947) Any doubt about Santa Claus being real is answered here. We get to see Santa, the Macy’s Parade and actress Maureen O’Hara all in one. Being a retired letter carrier also helps since the U.S. Post Office comes to the rescue.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) What can be added to this one. If you haven’t seen it at least once, welcome to Planet Earth. Believe it or not, the first time I saw this story was in a 1977 television movie “It Happened One Christmas.” Marlo Thomas played the James Stewart role.
March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) Who else besides Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy can mix up an order of 100 six-inch wooden soldiers for 100 six-foot ones. All this takes place in Toyland as the pair help (?) Mother Goose and Little Bo Peep against the most evil Barnaby Bernicia.
Three Godfathers (1948) A baby, a donkey...and John Wayne. Watching movies is not complete with a good John Wayne western in the mix. Three bank robbers (yes, the Duke starts out as a bad guy) are escaping across the desert when they come across a wrecked covered wagon with a dying mother and her newborn son. The trio are determined to get the baby to safety. The small town of New Bethlehem on Christmas Eve proves to be place the baby is taken.
Larry Larkin is a columnist for the Claremore Daily Progress.