It's that time of year for watching holiday movies, and everyone knows the best holiday movies are from the classic days of Hollywood. Here's my personal fave list; feel free to chime in with your favourites!
1) White Christmas: It doesn't get better than this: Bing's crooning, Rosemary's sultry tones, Danny's one-liners, and Vera's perfect gracefulness in this ageless classic. Gaining new fans every year and enjoyed by pretty much anyone who sees it, White Christmas is a "must-watch" for me each year.
2) In the Good Old Summertime: An odd title for winter, isn't it? But much of the key plot happenings occur at Christmastime in this film. Judy Garland and Van Johnson are witty, attractive, and charming together in this 1949 MGM musical. A remake of the 1940 classic The Shop Around the Corner, Garland and Johnson fight for much of the film thinking they hate each other, when in reality they are each others' romantic pen pals. A film that is wonderful year-round, but for me, a favourite for the month of December.
3) Meet Me in St. Louis: Perhaps the ultimate family film, Judy Garland shines in this 1944 MGM musical classic. Again, not all of the action occurs in the winter, but certainly key scenes do. Movie audiences of the day would have heard the classic holiday song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for the first time in the film, and Garland's moving and effortless rendition has never been matched. Plus, which hopeless romantic doesn't love the scene where Garland's dancing Esther Smith is led by her grandfather behind a huge Christmas tree, only to emerge with her "boy next door" lover John Truitt (Tom Drake)? Every Garland fan loves this movie at Christmas.
4) Holiday Affair: An under-seen and little-known gem, with a young Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum as stars. Leigh is a single mother raising her son (her husband has died in WW2), and meets and falls in love with carefree and offbeat Mitchum, while involved with a dependable but uninteresting lawyer. Leigh and Mitchum make a wonderful and natural couple with considerable chemistry, and Gordon Gebert steals the show as Leigh's daughter Timmy. Clocking in at only 87 minutes, if you want a fast way to get into the Christmas spirit, this movie will certainly do the trick!
5) The Apartment: While rarely mentioned among holiday films, much of The Apartment takes place between Christmas and New Year's Eve. One of the finest films ever made by legendary director Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon was never better than he was as C.C Baxter, an insurance man in love with the elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (played by the adorable Shirley MacLaine). A seamless blend of comedy and drama, Lemmon and MacLaine make movie magic together, and Fred MacMurray is excellent as the slimy executive Jeff Sheldrake. The final scene is one of the most beautiful and touching moments in movie history, and will get you feeling all warm and fuzzy and ready for the holiday season.
Other faves worth mentioning: If I didn't mention It's a Wonderful Life here, I would be neglecting perhaps the greatest Christmas movie of all time, and what a wonderful movie it is. Everyone needs to see this one at least once in their life, and if you don't cry, there is something wrong! The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young is also always worth a look, if only for Grant fans to see him play an angel!
Happy viewing, and please let me know your favourites to see at this time of year!!