As the holiday season is upon us we decided to look at some classic Christmas movies and what makes them memorable to us.
Generally, there are two major reasons why these films are popular. It’s the thoughts and feelings behind traditions and familiarity. Holiday movies often have a wide appeal, bringing young and old together to sit and some family time together with some snacks and hot chocolate! The films watched may become a family tradition. When it becomes a yearly event, the previous knowledge of the film and the good times had by the family become familiar and comforting. Even if a tradition is broken, separate family members can watch the film individually and still enjoy the festive mood as they are reminded of good times they spent with their family and friends. So let’s take a look at a few classic films as well as few recent ones that may become classics themselves.
Released in 1947, this film starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore, was not well received initially. It never broke even during its initial run at the cinema! Although receiving mixed reviews at the time (but now has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 95%!), its success didn’t take off till the 1980’s when the copyright was relaxed and became available for local TV network stations to show annually. The film gained in popularity as it reached a wider audience. Today it is a World Wide classic and has also been declared “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation.” The story follows a man given the chance by an angel, to see what life would be like if he never existed. Its message is that no matter how bad life is or how insignificant you feel, to not give up, as you are still important to all those you are connected too.
The original Miracle on 3th Street was made in 1947. This film fared much better than It’s a Wonderful Life and it made the list for preservation by the Library of Congress too. It received positive reviews when it was released and still is popular with modern critics (94% on Totten Tomatoes).Starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara and John Payne, it centres around an old man who was hire to work as Macy’s store Father Christmas. The old man however, really believes he is Santa Claus and after a visit from the store’s psychologist, he is declared insane and thrown into a mental institution. A young lawyer takes up his case and fights for his freedom. This is a great film to remind us that no matter what age we are, fantasies and dreams should still be part of us!
No Christmas classic film list can be without an adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens’! Although there have been many adaptations of this book since the invention of film (the first movies of this book were made in 1908), the 1951 adaptation called Scrooge (known in the US as A Christmas Carol) is perhaps the first well known one. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, it too received mixed reviews and did not perform well in the box office. It also grew in popularity over the years too and now has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 83% and is viewed as the most faithful adaptation of the novel. Starring Alastair Sim, Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison its plot is centred on a bitter stingy old man who is visited by three ghosts in an attempt to change his ways. It reminds us redemption can happen at any age and that it is never too late to try and change one’s self for the better.
White Christmas (made in 1954) was one of the most successful movies of that year. It still has a relatively high score at Rotten Tomatoes with 75%. This film is a musical about two friends in the army during the 2nd World War, pairing up with two sisters to create an entertainment act. They end up helping their former commander, who now runs a failing lodge. It stars the very popular Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. This film is a classic because of its funny and entertaining nature.
So with just a few old classic mentioned, let’s look to see what more modern films may become classics!
Released in 1993, this film could already be classed as a modern classic for both Halloween and Christmas! The plot is about Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, trying to discover what Christmas is after stumbling into Christmas Town. Bored with Halloween he sets off on a mission to bring his own version of Christmas to the world. Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon and Catherine O’Hara, it has an astounding 96% score at Rotten Tomatoes already!
This one is 50/50 at the moment, you either love it or you hate it, but it may do better as time goes on. This is an adaptation of the book How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, made in the year 2000. Jim Carey stars at the Grinch, a creature that hates Christmas so much that one year, he decides he’ll steal it. It has a rating of 53% at Rotten Tomatoes. Either you see it as an eccentric richly detailed world or a tacky over the top mess!
Made in 2003, Elf is about a human baby adopted and raised by Elves. One day realises he’s not an elf and so he makes his way to New York City to find his birth father. Along the way he causes mayhem! Starring Will Ferrell, James Caan and Bob Newbert, it has a respectable rating of 84%
This film follows the lives of eight couples (whose lives are intertwined with each other) in London during the run up period before Christmas. It stars a massive cast that includes Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Sienna Guillory, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman and Keira Knightley. Released in 2003, this Rom-Com scores 63% at Rotten Tomatoes.
This is another film that you’ll either love or hate! Tom Hanks plays the voice of six characters in the 2004 movie. It is about a boy who is starting to doubt Christmas. In the middle of the night he is woken up by a train coming down the middle of his street! This magical train takes a few lucky children to the North Pole to visit Santa before he sets off on his rounds on Christmas Eve. It has a rating of 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Either you’ll find it visually stunning or cheesy with weird characters!
Those are just a brief few movies that spring to mind! Of course not all films have to be about the festive session to qualify as one. Many unrelated themed movies end up becoming Holiday movies because they are also repeated year after year. For example, in the UK you can normally find The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz being shown on TV! So please feel free to add your own “non-festive” holiday movies, your favourite classic and modern Christmas film, as well as your thoughts on what makes these films memorable to the comments. Let’s see how many fond memories we can stir up with our reminiscing!
Please join us for a discussion Tuesday 11/29/2011@7pE/12UTC