When it’s cold outside all I want to do is curl up and watch my favourite Christmas movies, cuddled up under a blanket with my kit-cat Hubert keeping me warm. Of course, the reality is that I seldom have time to do just that, and try and sneak a Christmas movie in here and there as the Christmas rush descends. With several weeks still to go until Christmas, I’m hoping that I can still find the time to watch a few of my all-time favourite Christmas movies and shows. If you’re looking to do the same, here are some titles worth considering.
My all time favourite Christmas movie is Desk Set starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Katherine Hepburn plays a Librarian in a research library, and Spencer Tracy is the efficiency expert hired to implement a mainframe computer into the workflow of the library. Katherine’s character Bunny and her colleagues think this means they’re being phased out and will lose their jobs. Set during the Christmas season, this movie is funny, sweet and comical. The most Christmasy part of the film is when all the librarians are chugging champagne at work as they celebrate Christmas with the other departments in the organization. If only we could all have champagne at work around Christmas! An interesting bit of trivia is that this movie script was penned by Nora Ephron’s parents.
Another favourite is Christmas in Connecticut, starring Barbara Stanwyck. Her character (Elizabeth Lane) writes a regular column on domesticity in a woman’s magazine. Her articles revolve around motherhood, cooking and other housewifely tasks. Her boss and those reading her column assume that Lane is the epitome of the perfect housewife, when in fact the reality could not be further from the truth. She lives in a small apartment and is without the husband and baby she pretends to have. Her house of cards is set to crumble when a nurse writes to Lane’s boss and asks if a returning soldier can spend a homey Christmas with Lane and her family. Not only does the boss agree, he decides that he too would like to experience a traditional Christmas. Watching Lane try and keep up the pretense of being the perfect housewife in a borrowed farmhouse is funny, and her character is endearing. Definitely worth watching.
The Christmas season is not complete without watching a few other classic flicks. Miracle on 34th Street is about an executive named Doris who has become rather jaded by life. When a department store Santa claims to be Kris Kringle and convinces her daughter of this as well, Doris believes the man to be insane. Is he insane, or could he be the real thing? It’s a Wonderful Life is another film not to be missed at Christmas. In fact, this movie is the perfect film to watch on a snowy Christmas Eve. George Bailey tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but is shown by angel Clarence what life would have been like had he never existed. White Christmas is a musical with a great number of hits (White Christmas, Sisters) and stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Their song and dance act teams up with two sisters to perform at a failing Vermont inn, run by their former commanding general. Even if you’re not a fan of musicals, this movie is worth a watch.
There are many animated shorts suitable for kids and adults alike. Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is an animated short with no dialogue – only music. A boy builds a snowman that comes to life, and they go on adventures (including a visit to the North Pole). Excellent animation with an imaginative story. Another animated film that’s become an annual favourite is Olive the Other Reindeer. Olive is a dog who thinks she’s a reindeer when she mistakes “All of the other reindeer” in the Rudolph song for “Olive the other reindeer”. She runs away from her owner after she mistakenly thinks he doesn’t want her any more and sets out to find Santa and help him deliver Christmas presents. Olive meets many interesting characters along the way, and Drew Barrymore is excellent as the voice of Olive. Of course, what Christmas could be complete without the classic animations: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (not the Jim Carrey version!).
I wasn’t going to mention A Christmas Story, as this is on almost everyone’s list of favourite Christmas flicks. Yet, I found I had to include this gem. Directed by Canadian Bob Clark, this movie makes me laugh every time! Who could forget the leg lamp prize, the handmade bunny outfit or the kid getting his tongue stuck on the frozen pole? This story is told from the point of view of Ralphie, who wants nothing more than to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Have to watch this movie each and every Christmas, and now my son is old enough to enjoy it with me as well!
If the previous titles aren’t to your liking and you’re more of an action aficionado, I do have one more suggestion for you. (And it is set on Christmas Eve!). How about a little Bruce Willis in Die Hard, anyone?