White Christmas- What can I say? It’s a Christmas classic! We’ve always watched it after zipping past the rehearsal scenes where Vera Ellen manages to lose her skirt each time. We also didn’t enjoy the moody bohemianish number with Danny Kaye. We do watch the “Mandy” one right up to the point where she pops up as they sing, “Mandy is there a minister handy,” and then Ziparoonski! It’s gone. Next! The countdown to Christmas just isn’t the same without hearing, “We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go, as long as he wants to go, opposite to the foe! We’ll stay with the old man wherever he wants to stay, as long as he stays away from the battle’s grave!” Oh, and Sisters! Yes, White Christmas is a definite, “must have” at Christmas!
Christmas in Connecticut- Barbara Stanwyck plays a writer in a New York apartment who writes about her fictional life on a farm with hubby and baby– until her editor decides that he wants to send a war hero to the farm for a nice Christmas treat. OOPS! Great movie. S.Z. Sakall trying to teach her to “flip-flop the flop-flips” and saying that the baby ate his watch and it “won’t do the watch no good neither” is just classic.
The Polar Express- I know the movie has its lovers and haters. I’m a lover. I see a lot of symbolism to Christianity in it, which is funny. Others see it as quite unscriptural. Well, aside from the fact that Santa isn’t real, I saw parallels between the three main guys… the Benevolent “Father Christmas,” the obedient (and timely) train conductor, and the “spirit” that seemed to be more of a tug on the boy’s conscience. That one was the weakest in my opinion. It’s also my least favorite. Hebrews 11:1 seems etched into the fabric of the movie. You must believe to see/hear what is true. Just as we cannot hope to comprehend the Lord’s work without belief first, so the boy cannot hope to hear the jingles of the bells until he chooses to believe. I’m sure this doesn’t fit well with Calvinist theology, but I’m not a Calvinist! 😉
The Christmas Card- It’s cheesy. I won’t pretend it isn’t. The movie is so predictable it isn’t funny. The acting is a little forced at times, and the only thing that makes the main female character so lovable is who her character is. She’s just a really neat character. Sure, another actress probably could have done it better, but it works. The man is honorable, the emphasis is on family and others, and even the “bad guy” is real and just selfish rather than deeply evil. I love the movie. I couldn’t watch it fifty times in a row like I probably could White Christmas, but hey. It’s a good feel-good, cheesy Christmas movie. And that’s what makes it so great. The plot is simple. A woman in Nevada City writes to soldiers every Christmas and a soldier decides to meet her.
Season for Miracles- A woman “kidnaps” her niece and nephew (with permission from their incarcerated druggie mother) from CPS and tries to run. Broken down in Bethlehem PA, she meets a town full of people anxious to help. When neighbors assume she’s someone else, she assumes that role in order to protect the children and have a place to stay until their car is repaired and they’re on their way again. Yes, she answers for her misdeeds. At one point, she tells her niece that they have to lie about something, and the niece says, “That’s ok, everyone lies.” I love her response. She shakes her head and says, “No, everyone doesn’t lie and when this is over, we won’t either.” There is just something so real in admitting that you know you’re doing wrong but you don’t know how else to do what is right.
Miracle on 34th St.- Honestly, I know people who have strong opinions on new or old. I don’t. I love the story regardless– and we don’t even “do” Santa. When a little girl knows that Santa isn’t real, she’s surprised to discover how real the imaginary can really be! Heartwarming story.
It’s a Wonderful Life- Another classic. A brilliant reminder that one life touches so many. When George Bailey sees suicide as the only option to protect his family from ruined reputation and financial failure, an angel is sent to show him just what life would be like had he never been born. My husband tears up every time he sees it.
In the Good Old Summertime- Ok, so what is a movie with “summertime” in the title doing on a list of Christmas movies? Well, I’ll tell you. First, I have to remind you what this movie “is.” The story started with Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Ann Margaret, was remade as a musical in In the Good Old Summertime, and finally as the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan version, You’ve Got Mail. A man and woman write each other anonymously, slowly falling in love with who the other person. Unaware that they work together (and think they can’t stand one another) they finally decide to meet. You know the rest of the story, and if you don’t, I don’t wanna ruin it. So why is this a Christmas movie in my book? Well, it’s an excuse to watch it, and the climax does occur at Christmas time! Judy Garland sings a lovely Christmas song and all is well at the end.
The Nativity Story- Although this movie does take liberties with scripture (particularly in regards to Zacharias and Joseph), I thought it was very well done. Ciran Hinds makes such a great Herod! The wisemen were hilarious, and what I think it does best is show Mary for the honorable young woman that she was without venerating her. It is a lovely balance between seeing her as nearly on par with God and relegating her to nothing but a womb with legs.
Lady on a Train- While not strictly a Christmas movie either, this Deanna Durbin (we love her) mystery occurs at Christmas time and includes one of my favorite renditions of Silent Night– vibrato and all! (I’m not a big fan of vibrato…) Deanna Durbin looks out her train window while reading a murder mystery and sees someone killed in a window. She rushes to the police station, but no one will believe her. Everyone is looking for a pair of slippers, Haskell of the New York office is sporting a steak over one eye, and if she’s not careful, she’ll trust the wrong brother and miss her chance with the mystery writer.
Also, if you have cable or its equivalent, don’t forget the dozens of fun movies that are on this time of year on the Hallmark Channel. From Silent Night to Silver Bells and movies that aren’t also the titles of Christmas carols and songs, they’ve got it all.