10. REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) The first of two Barbara Stanwyck films that made the list. Babs plays Lee Leander, a shoplifter, who gets arrested for trying to shoplift a bracelet. ADA John Sargeant (Fred MacMurray) is assigned to prosecute her. The trial begins just before Christmas, but rather than face a jury filled with the holiday spirit, he has the trial postponed. However, he generously posts her bail so she does not have to spend Christmas in jail. And so begins a wonderful holiday film as the two wind up spending time with his family and falling in love. One of the best of the classic romantic dramas that happens to be set during the holidays. Stanwyck and MacMurray have wonderful chemistry together. Remember the Night is a regular favorite that is played on TCM every December.
6. HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) Robert Mitchum plays Steve Mason, a veteran and drifter, is employed as a clerk at Crowley's, a New York department store during the Christmas season. He suspects customer Connie Ennis, played by Janet Leigh, of being a comparative shopper for a rival store when she buys an expensive toy train set without asking a single question about it. That night, her son Timmy (Gordon Gebert) becomes excited when he sneaks a peek at what he thinks is his present, only to be disappointed when his mother sets him straight. When Connie returns the train the next day, Steve tells her that he should report her to the store detective, which would lead to her firing. After she explains that she is a war widow with a son to support, Steve refunds her money, a gesture that costs him his job. I love this movie. It's very under-rated and is in my book a classic holiday film. If you've never seen it, check it out. TCM is frequently airing during the holiday season.
5. THE HOLIDAY (2006) The wonderful modern romantic comedy set during the holiday season focuses on two women: Amanda (Cameron Diaz), a highly successful movie trailer editor in Los Angeles, and Iris (my girl Kate Winslet), a lovesick society column editor for The Daily Telegraph in London. The story is set in motion when each of them suffers a heartache: Amanda discovers that her boyfriend has cheated on her, while the object of Iris' unrequited love announces his engagement at the office Christmas party. Seeking an escape, Iris proposes the home swap on the internet, posting an ad about her quaint cottage in Surrey in the British countryside. Her offer is eagerly accepted by Amanda, who lives in a luxurious home in L.A. but is stressed over her break-up. So a simple switch and things begin to change for the better for the two women. Solid support from Jack Black, Jude Law, and wily veteran Eli Wallach. This movie is great for couples and anyone who loves great romances.
4. LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) On Christmas morning in 1909, in Norwalk, Connecticut, Jim Dear gives his wife Darling a cocker spaniel puppy that they name Lady. Lady enjoys a happy life with the couple and with a pair of dogs from the neighborhood, a Scottish Terrier named Jock and a bloodhound named Trusty. Meanwhile, across town by the railway, a stray silver mutt, referred to as the Tramp, lives life from moment to moment, be it begging for scraps from an Italian restaurant or protecting his fellow strays Peg (a Lhasa Apso) and Bull (an English bulldog) from the local dog catcher. Things get serious when Darlings have a baby and Lady is left out. Drama unfolds but things get sorted out by the end and a year later at the following Christmas, there is a much more festive mood at The Darling home with Tramp now a member f the family. This may not be the traditional Christmas movie, but it's still a wonderful film. Beautiful to look at and an emotional and heartfelt story. This is not only one of my favorite films from Disney, but one of my favorite films period.
3. THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) During a cross-country lecture tour, notoriously acerbic radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) slips on the icy steps of the house of the Stanleys, a prominent Ohio family, and is forced to recuperate in their home during the Christmas holidays. The overbearing, self-centered celebrity soon comes to dominate the lives of the residents and everyone else who enters the household. He encourages young adults Richard and June Stanley to pursue their dreams, much to the dismay of their conventional father Ernest. Sheridan's assistant Maggie (a wonderfully subdued Bette Davis) tries to keep him in check. And Ann Sheridan is a riot as Sheridan's old friend and Broadway diva Lorraine. Jimmy Durante joins the fun as another of Sheridan's old buddies. The Man Who Came to Dinner is a joyous holiday film, bursting with comedy and fun. One of the best.
2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003) delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress. The ensemble cast is composed predominantly of British actors such as Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Set in London, the film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later. This is one of my favorite newer movies and it's perfect for the whole family.
1. CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) And finally my favorite Christmas movie is this charming and delightful film starring Barbara Stanwyck as columnist Elizabeth Lane, who is comparable to what Martha Stewart is today. Problem is, her life is all fake and she really doesn't know anything about cooking, decorating, or living on a farm. She is requested by her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet in a nice departure from film noir flicks) to entertain a war hero (Dennis Morgan) over the holidays. Soon Liz is put on the spot to deliver a home cooked meal and decorate the place with her legendary touch. Babs is awesome in this movie. She gives one of her best performances. And this is how you make a great holiday film. Funny, romantic, touching and beautfiful to look at. So that's why it's my favorite Christmas movie of all time. And I know I'm a guy, but is it me or did Babs know how to dress or what? Stunning clothes adorn her throughout the movie. Just another reason to love this movie.
SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954) with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds
WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940) with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan
I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1946) with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten
SCROOGED (1988) with Bill Murray