Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Great Christmas Show: The Rest of the 1940s

I'm falling behind in putting together my list of favorite holiday movies. Figured I would. Actually, I've been falling behind in viewing them, too. Gotta get a move on. So today, here are a few more favorites from the 1940s -- probably the Golden Age of the Christmas movie.

Directed and Produced by Frank Capra
Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, and Frank Capra

Based on "The Greatest Gift," by Philip Van Doren Stern

Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers, Thomas Mitchell

This is, I suppose, the archetypal Christmas movie. But I was never a big James Stewart fan, so it's really never been one of my favorites, even though I do feel a certain obligation to watch it -- just out of tradition if nothing else. Actually, I've always seen the film as something of a horror epic: I really want George Bailey to get away from Bedford Falls, and live the life he wants to live. Every time I watch the show, I'm rooting for George when he says, "I'm shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world." And every time, he goes right ahead and gives his college money to his brother, marries the boring hometown girl, and takes over the old building and loan, just the same!

Directed by Henry Koster
Screenplay by Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood

From the novel by Robert Nathan

Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden

I think this is my favorite of all the favorites from the 1940s. And it's one I had never seen until my husband made me watch it after we were married. Now it's one of the two or three films I absolutely must see every holiday season, even though it's rather heavy-handed in the "author's message" department. Not something I'd usually be attracted to, but I think the humor saves it. I love the exchanges between Grant and Niven; and the scene where the very proper Bishop Brougham (Niven) gets stuck in an armchair and can't get out is almost worthy of the Marx Brothers. Great movie. (And there's Monty Woolley again!)

Directed and Produced by Don Hartman
Written by John D. Weaver and Isobel Lennart

Starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey, and Gordon Gebert

This is another one of my husband's favorites that I've come to love, too. Well, anything with Robert Mitchum in it is worth watching, right? Although I think the main reason the hubby likes it is that a model train figures prominently in the plot.


  1. I think I would put "It's a Wonderful Life" as my favorite from this list, but they are all wonderful movies.

  2. Every year I make the list and every year I miss them all -- holiday movies make A cringe, it seems.Perhaps he would feel differently if Steven Segal were in one or perhaps if they wore football helmets. I did watch "Going My Way" which isn't really a Christmas movie but anything with Bing in a collar seems Christmas-y to me. I did catch part of "A Christmas Story" and suffered through "Home Alone" which is the most painful movie ever produced -- ever. I have never seen "Holiday Affair" but it looks like something I would really enjoy -- I have to check it out.


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