Top 12 Holiday Movies
Mike's ProfileMike has a degree in Film from The University of Texas at Austin. He has worked in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years and sees two to four new movies in the theatre a week. Mike has a weekly movie blog where he reviews films both present and past at: lastonetoleavethetheatre.blogspot.com He can be followed on Twitter @lastonetoleave
Here are Mike’s from Preview This! Top 12 Holiday movies:
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1947)
The story of George Bailey (James Stewart), who, with the help of an angel, named Clarence (Henry Travers), discovers how important his presence was in the town of Bedford Falls. While the film was a box office dud in 1947, the film became popular in the 1970’s because rights to the film were in the public domain, meaning local TV stations could show the film free.
“A Christmas Story” (1983)
It’s the 30th anniversary of the story of Ralphie’s (Peter Billingsley) quest to convince his parents that he is worthy of a Red Ryder B.B. gun. Who doesn’t love the line “You’ll shoot your eye out?” The film was shot partially in Cleveland, Ohio, and the house the film takes place in has been restored as a tourist attraction.
Buddy (Will Ferrell) is a little bigger than your normal elf working at the North Pole. Okay, a lot bigger. Buddy, it turns out, was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away on Santa’s gift bag and ended up at the North Pole. Now, Santa has sent Buddy back to New York City to find his birth father. Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” makes an appearance in the film as the elf Ming Ming.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, is in a rut and is bored working Halloween every year. He then discovers Christmas Town and decides that the residents of Halloween Town should help him put on Christmas this year. It took 100 people working over three years to create this stop-motion animated film.
“A Christmas Carol” (1951)
Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is the meanest man in town and hates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is haunted by three ghosts, to show him his past, his present and his future. Will that be enough to melt the hardest of hearts? In most of the scenes with the Ghosts, the actors portraying the Ghosts were not on the set with Alastair Sim but were added into the film by using special effects.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
Susan (Natalie Wood) and her single mother, Doris (Maureen O’Hara), don’t believe in Santa Claus. Doris hires a replacement Santa (Edmund Gwen) at the last minute for the Macy’s Department Store Thanksgiving Parade. When he is the hit of the parade, she hires him to be their Santa in the store. She then discovers that the man she has hired believes that he really is Santa and goes by the name of Kris Kringle. Doris must then decide whether to fire Kris, whom she feels might be mentally unbalanced, or keep him because he is the best department store Santa they have ever had. The parade sequence was actually filmed on Thanksgiving Day, and Edmund Gwen, who played Kris, rode in the parade as Santa Claus.
“Christmas in Connecticut” (1945)
Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the most famous food writer in the country, writing about her idyllic life on her farm as she creates some of the most amazing meals while taking care of her husband and child. The problem is Elizabeth is single and lives in a small New York apartment, where the most she does in preparing a meal is dial for takeout. Her publisher has decided to give a returning war hero a Christmas he will never forget, one at Elizabeth Lane’s country farm. Stanwyck’s character was loosely based on a real magazine writer, Gladys Taber, who lived on a farm in Connecticut.
“Die Hard” (1988)
New York City detective John McClane (Bruce Willis), has just flown into Los Angeles to spend the Christmas Holidays with his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). When he arrives at the Nakatomi Plaza, Holly’s company Christmas party is in full mode. What John and the party guests don’t know is they are about to be attacked by twelve terrorists led by a man called, Hans Gruder (Alan Rickman). John must take on the terrorists single handily to save his wife. The role of John McClane was offered to 5 other actors, including Sylvester Stallone, before giving the part to Willis which made him a top box office action hero.
“Love Actually” (2003)
The lives of eight couples intersect in the month before Christmas. Some couples are meeting for the first time and fall in love. Some are couples who have been in long term relationships and rediscovering their love, and others are falling out of love. The scenes at the airport at the beginning and ending of the film were shot at a London’s Heathrow airport, and the people in the shots were not actors.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989)
It’s Christmas time, and the Griswold’s are planning their best Christmas ever. Clark (Chevy Chase), Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and the two kids’ (Juliett Lewis, Johnny Galecki) plans don’t always go the way they want them to go, especially when the relatives start showing up. As the Griswold’s are putting up the tree, Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is playing on the TV. Capra’s grandson, Frank Capra III, was the assistant director on this film.
“White Christmas” (1954)
Bob (Bing Crosby) and Phil (Danny Kaye) are a headlining song and dance team. They meet two sisters, Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen), who have their own musical act. The two teams travel to Vermont to try and help the boys’ former commanding officer save his resort. Bing Crosby sang “White Christmas” in two other films: “Holiday Inn” (1942) and “Blue Skies” (1946).
“Arthur Christmas” (2011)
In this animated film, Santa (Jim Broadbent) is getting ready to retire…which of his two sons will follow in his footsteps? Steve (Hugh Laurie), the older son, is Santa’s right hand and runs Santa’s workshop with military precision. Arthur (James McAcoy), the younger son, is a wide-eyed lover of all things Christmas, but Arthur’s optimism can get the best of him, and sometimes he is just a little too eager to please. On Christmas Eve, it’s discovered that one present has not been delivered, and Arthur decides to make sure that everyone’s Christmas is a merry one. This is the third animated film that James McAcoy has done lead voice work for. The other two films were “Strings” (2004) and “Gnomeo and Juliet” (2011).
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