Entertainment

Seven Christmas movie classics to warm your heart

A scene from The Polar Express. -
A scene from The Polar Express.
— image credit:

New contenders arrive every year to vie for the title of best Christmas movie ever.

Most deserve to be tipped out with the expired eggnog. But these film classics stand the test of time and are guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit.

1. A Christmas Carol (1951)

There's a lot of imitators out there, but this one, starring Alastair Sims as Scrooge, is the ultimate film adaptation of the Charles Dickens story. Scrooge is portrayed not as a miser but as a tormented, lost soul. Chilling, supernatural and heartwarming at the same time.

2. A Christmas Story (1983)

All little Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Rider BB Gun. "You'll shoot your eye, out, kid," he's warned time and again, thwarted in his efforts to convince his parents, teacher, and the big man himself, Santa, that he deserves one this year. It's set in the 1940s and written and directed by Bob Clark, the same guy who brought you the teen sex comedy Porkys! (1982) and Black Christmas (1974), a horror film about a sorority house terrorized by a prank-calling, homicidal murderer who's clearly lacking in Christmas spirit.

A Christmas Story was narrated by author Jean Shepherd, who also wrote the novel. Still so popular, the house where it was filmed has been turned into a tourist attraction. Don't forget to bring your Little Orphan Annie decoder pin and be sure to drink your Ovaltine!

 

3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore, and directed by Frank Capra. Long-suffering savings and loan operator George Bailey finds out what life would be like if he'd never existed. Not a Christmas movie so much as a long, dark teatime of the soul. A box office dud when first released, the film gained cult-like status thanks to syndication on TV.

Much of it is quite bleak, even despairing and existential but the story ends in a triumphant celebration of courage and sacrifice for the common good. Best ending ever?



4. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Animated and directed by Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny fame and featuring the voice of Boris Karloff as the narrator. You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch, plotting to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Poor Max the Dog and little Cindy Lou Who, who is no more than two.

But it's a funny, thoughtful story – a true classic that captures the spirit of the season in a tidy 26 minutes.



5. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A 1964 stop-motion animated classic directed by Kizo Nagashima and Larry Roemer, and featuring the voices of Billie Mae Richards and Burl Ives.

Teased about his light-emitting nose, young Rudolph runs away from Santa's workshop only to save the day when fog threatens to ruin Santa's Christmas Eve flight. Features such colourful characters as the pick axe-wielding Yukon Cornelius, the toothy Abominable Snowmonster and Hermey, the elf who'd rather be a dentist. It spawned several sequels, including Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1975) and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1975).

 

6. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Judy Garland. A plot synopsis doesn't capture the true magic of this delightful film, an MGM musical about a family living in St. Louis in 1903 and who is reluctantly planning to move to New York City. Features Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and the memorable Trolley Song.

 

7. The Polar Express (2004)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring the voice of Tom Hanks. An animated story of how a boy's faith is rewarded one Christmas Eve when a steam train pulls up outside his house and takes him on a mysterious, thrilling journey to the North Pole – home of Santa's Workshop. Adapted from an illustrated children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. Breathtaking on the big screen, like a storybook brought to life.

– by Jennifer Lang. A longer version was first published in the Cloverdale Reporter.

 

Cast your vote on which Christmas classic reigns supreme, or tell us in the comments below what other holiday flick is your fave.

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