I admit it; I am an absolute fool for Christmas movies.
Remember that made-for-television Christmas movie with Jaclyn Smith and Paul Williams? Of course you don't. It was called "The Night They Saved Christmas," and it was made in 1984. You might never consider watching such a film. But I would - and did. (We've recently heard from one reader who loved this movie - is it time to watch it again?) Don't even think of condemning yourself as being as bad as I am about Christmas movies unless you, too, own Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol on DVD. (I like the songs, especially that one about Razzleberry Dressing....)
So, with myself and so many other fans of Christmas films, why are there so many less-than-great Christmas movies? It probably has something to do with the laws of supply and demand. During the holiday season, most of us want to watch movies about the holidays. Consequently, there's a big demand. But it's hard work to write a great script for a Christmas film, and difficult to produce one. Thus, we have a lot of cinematic offerings that, were they not about Christmas, would probably never have been made.
On the other hand, some of the best-loved films of all time have been Christmas-related. Scenes from these movies stand out in our minds clearly: Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye putting on a show, Judy Garland writing Christmas cards, Jimmy Stewart telling Donna Reed that it is, indeed, a wonderful life.
What follows is a list of my favorite Christmas films; it does not pretend to be the indisputable last word on the subject. It is not based on popularity polls. It is subjective. If I've left off your favorite film, don't despair. If there's a Christmas movie on this list that you haven't seen yet, get going!
Short list, right? Of course, a new one could come along any day now. I'll be watching.
Somehow, I never got around to watching A Christmas Carol; that is to say, the film of that title made in 1951, starring Alastair Sim. It's on my list of Christmas movies to watch in 2009.
Another Christmas movie I'll be seeing for the first time in 2009 is
Holiday Affair, starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, and Wendell Corey.
The film was made in 1949, and since I like the three stars of the film, and I
like Christmas movies, I'm thinking I should like this movie.
Criticize me all you want.....
Christmas DVD's you might want to watch ......
We recently received the following note:
"To a fellow Christmasmoviephile,
"I love them tooóI saw one made-for-TV movie in late 70ís to early 80ís that starred Jewish actors in the roles of Jewish characters from a local synagogue taking the Christiansí places on Christmas Eve. One story in the movie is a nurse who returns this night to the profession after some major trauma, and two who take over the local Irish pub and canít figure out what has been left out of the Irish stew, as an example of the situations in which they find themselves. Ring any bells? I have been searching for anyone besides myself who saw it, as I canít remember title or actors, it was the situations that touched me most."
Update: Thanks to reader P.A.P., we may have solved the above mystery. She wrote: "I think that movie might be the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie from 1977 called "Have I Got A Christmas For You". It starred Milton Berle, Steve Allen and Jim Backus among others." We looked it up, and it sure sounds right. The cast was huge; in addition to those mentioned by our correspondent, actors included the lovely Adrienne Barbeau, Harold Gould, and Wolfman Jack.
And here's a note from a different reader:
"Perhaps you or someone else can help identify this movie/show. I remember it came on TV possibly back in the 70's and was a cartoon about a little girl who writes a letter to Santa but it blows out of the window. The rest of the movie is about her dog and his friends chasing this letter all over town trying to get it back for her."
Update: Reader P.D. suggests that the above might be the cartoon version of "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus." I think this is a possibility worth investigating. Also note that, to the best of my knowledge, there are two cartoon DVD's with this title, the first being an older cartoon with voices of Jim Backus and Louis Nye, and the second being a newer version. (I probably saw the older version at some point in my life, but don't remember much.)
And here's yet another note . . .
"I have a mystery Christmas movie Iím looking for too. I saw it in the 90ís but I think it was created somewhere between the 70ís and mid 90ís. Itís got real people in it not cartoons and itís about these really disobedient kids they are all siblings and they are like the terrors of the neighborhood. In the end they do the Christmas story play and discover the meaning of Christmas. Any ideas?"
Update: Reader R.P. wrote a very nice note, and stated in it that the above movie is probably, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Sounds right to me, and thanks, R.P.!
Can anyone help Tom?
"I can't remember if this is actually a Christmas movie since it's been maybe 20 years since I've seen it but it's filled with snow and that's Christmasy. Anyway, it's about a bunch of kids that build a huge snow fort to battle other kids in the neighborhood. I can't remember many details other than the snow fort had a bunch of escape tunnels and places for a lot of snow balls. I remember one part of the movie where one kid gets his foot caught in a hunter's trap. In the end there's a huge battle at the snow fort and the fort collapses which kills the one kid's dog. After that everyone stops fighting and peace comes to the neighborhood kids, I think that's the "everyone is at peace for Christmas part". Sorry I don't have more details. Hopefully someone can help figure out what this movie is. I've searched the internet with every keyword I could think of and can not find anything about this movie. Thanks for the help!"
Update: Reader S. wrote in about the movie above and said, "It is a French Canadian movie from Quebec called "la guerre des tuques"! (Editor's Note: I thought to myself, now that's obscure, but sure enough, this is a 1984 film in which the children of a village split into two gangs to have a snowball war. So, there you go, and thanks again to a reader for solving this Christmas movie mystery.)
More Christmas Movie Mysteries....
Christmas movie about a boy wanting a tractor?
"Perhaps you can help me find an obscure Christmas movie title. It was, we think, a TV movie of the 70's. The story line is about a boy who is terminally ill and wants a full sized tractor for Christmas. None of us can remember the actors or year."
Update: Cora A. wrote to say . . .
The movie about a boy being ill and wanting a tractor is called the Christmas Tree 1969 starring William Holden - TV movie.
(Editor's Note: Thank you, Cora, for that information. What's interesting about this film is that someone else was looking for it, too - see our other page on mystery Christmas movies, where someone was looking for a Christmas movie with a Malamute in it.)
Ah, those testy aunts at holiday-time . . .
I am looking for the title of a Christmas movie/made for TV movie that I saw back in the 70's or more probably the 80's, but cannot remember the title. The story revolves around a couple who own a department store that is going under. The wife is very distraught over the situation along with the other details of her life. Consequently she goes back to her small hometown for the Christmas holiday. At home she spends time with her mom and dad and her maiden aunt. While there she learns about old family secrets like the love affair between her aunt and the owner of the local country store. Every Christmas Eve a rose shows up on the aunt's window sill from her long lost love who has married someone else. Great story and I would like to see it again. But I can't remember the title or the names of any of the actors. I do remember the aunt was very testy.
Can you help?
Update: Reader D.B. identified the above movie as 1983's The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story, starring Lee Remick and filmed on location in Vermont. She also writes that, "the maiden aunt who get the Christmas Eve rose is Polly Holliday. I am sure of that actor. The owner of the general store is married, and honorable, so the only night of the year he and the aunt allow themselves is Christmas Eve. He comes and brings her a rose, and they sit and hold hands and have a cup of tea. Then he leaves. No kisses, just hand-holding and tea and wistful smiles. It is so sweet." Thanks, D.B.!
We've now added a separate web page devoted exclusively to Mystery Christmas Movies. Also see Mystery Christmas Movies 2011.
D J McAdam © 2005-2013. Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission.
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