It’s a fact that when you take a position on an issue, for instance in religion or politics, someone is bound to come along and disagree with you. The same holds true for movies. Everybody’s a critic, including me. So I have made a list of what I think are the top five, best ever, real reason for the season, Christmas movies that cannot be missed this December. The list might surprise you.
Number five on my list is the 1947 film, “The Bishop’s Wife”. This gem stars Cary Grant and Loretta Young, a couple of movie stars from the past who were the original superstars. Cary Grant is an Episcopal bishop who has thrown himself into the mission of fundraising for a new church he hopes to build by Christmas. He becomes alienated from his family, frustrated, even angry, with the process of trying to get financing for the project. So, he does what any self-respecting member of the clergy would do: he prays for guidance. His prayer is answered when he is sent a Christmas angel that helps him to remember what life is all about. Get out the tissues.
Taking the number four spot of not-to-be-missed Christmas flicks is another golden oldie of 1947, “Miracle on 34th Street”. What’s not to like about a cute, yet sassy, little girl who is almost a victim of her mother’s past? And for those who loved “Boston Legal”, this show has all the same tricks of the legal trade when a cunning, yet kind, lawyer proves the existence of Santa Claus. You just gotta believe!
There is a tie for third place because no way, no how could I separate these two staples of the season and still sleep well at night. Of course I’m referring to “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas”. Why, they are practically the same movie anyway. Good-natured friends Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby chase a bevy of beautiful girls, who sing, dance and break hearts amid beautiful winter scenery. But it all ends in romance on Christmas Eve. This is cornography at its best.
Yes, it’s nerve-racking as we move up to the top of the list, but coming in at number two is Frank Capra’s 1946 blockbuster, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Who hasn’t wanted to bust out of their own personal Bedford Falls to see the world? Who hasn’t wondered if they really matter in the grand scheme of life? Who hasn’t felt like everybody else gets all the breaks in life while they remain everyone’s Rock of Gibraltar? I dare you to feel bad after watching this film at any time of the year.
And now for the drum roll. The number one movie that best depicts the meaning of Christmas is the 1951 version of Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” with Alistair Sims as Scrooge. Ebenezer Scrooge is the meanest man in London, his past having shaped who he has become as an adult. For him, it’s all about the buck and people matter little to him, or so it seems. After three ghostly visits, predicted by his long dead business partner, Jacob Marley, Scrooge sees the error of his ways. He goes on to live a life of charity toward others.
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