So you’ve already watched It’s a Wonderful Life this season, and while you love Miracle on 34th Street, you’ve watched it countless times, and you’re getting restless for something new. So I’ve baked up a list, as full of goodies as a fruitcake, of holiday movies. Some are serious, some are silly, but they are all off the beaten track.
For starters, here is one of the first Christmas movies ever. Made in 1898, it’s a silent movie classic. If you enjoyed it, here are some more!
Joyeux Noel relates events that took place in France during World War I (1914) when French, German and Scottish soldiers came together on Christmas Eve and agreed on a cease fire to observe Christmas. It was nominated for the 2005 Best Foreign Film Academy Award.
Christmas in Connecticut is a romantic comedy in which a food writer (Barbara Stanwyck) who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss (Sydney Greenstreet) and a returning war hero (Dennis Morgan) invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas. It’s funny, a bit frenetic, and like all Barbara Stanwyck movies, has a touch of class.
Bad Santa. Not for everyone, as it’s full of profanity and Billy Bob Thornton, but it’s a holiday black comedy that pops up on a lot of favorite Christmas movie lists. I am one of its defenders, having laughed from start to finish.
The Thin Man (1934) features the classic line from Myrna Loy: “The next person that says ‘Merry Christmas’ to me, I’ll kill ‘em.” In it, Nick (William Powell) and Loy’s Myrna try to solve a murder while hosting a Christmas party at their hotel. The scene in which members of the police department go undercover as waiters at the Christmas dinner is a classic.
The Bishop’s Wife is a bit bland and actually quite odd, when you think of Cary Grant playing a voyeuristic Christmas angel who could pop up anytime in your life, possibly at the most awkward moments. But if you turn off your inner critic, this is a nice Christmas film, with Loretta Young playing the bishop’s wife. If you enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life, I think you will like it.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, is part of a DVD package called Holiday Family Classics: 39 Features and Shorts. This low-budget 60s flick has been called one of the worst films ever made, which is saying something. The plot involves men in green face paint, aka Martians, who kidnap Santa Claus in order to cheer up their depressed Martian children. It can’t possibly go anywhere but down with a plot like that, but after drinking a glass or two of eggnog, it could be fun.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales. To go from the ridiculous to the sublime, this is based on Dylan Thomas’ 1955 poem of the same name. The story, the acting, the settings–all simply wonderful. As one reviewer has noted, “The spirit is entirely one of nostalgia, love and reflection–surely those are the best emotions of all.”