My favorite Christmas movie is “White Christmas.” (It’s actually my favorite movie regardless of the season.) It’s got everything you could possibly want: Tons of iconic song-and-dance numbers with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney crooning ballads, really fake set pieces that look like they might topple at any moment and lots of hokey and very dated jokes. Oh, and everyone falls in love and is happy at the end.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”
Like a child waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve, I look forward to watching “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
At this time of year, I talk like Jimmy Stewart (I know him as George Bailey), believe in angels named Clarence, carry a facial tissue in case I cry a little and consider any holiday season I spend without watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” a Christmas not adequately celebrated.
The lines of dialogue linger in my memory. “Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” “Atta boy Clarence!” I could go on…
“A Christmas Story”
For us Northeast Ohioans, there’s simply no contest: “A Christmas Story” is the best holiday movie of all time.
Though the story takes place in the 1940s, it manages to transcend time and encapsulate what childhood is like in the Midwest: Kids trying to outsmart their no-nonsense parents and teachers, while navigating the sometimes-tricky landscape of friendships and growing up.
There’s a regional sense of ownership of the movie because part of it was shot in Cleveland, using the former Higbee’s Department store building and a house that has been converted to a movie museum.
An honorable mention is the 1938 production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” starring Reginald Owen; Gene, Kathleen and June Lockhart and Leo G. Carroll. It’s one of nearly a dozen versions of the story, but it’s wonderfully creaky and British, just as a film set in Victorian times should be.
I can’t imagine a Christmas without “A Christmas Story.”
For decades now, my family has indulged in the 24-hour marathon viewings of the film. We switch it on Christmas morning and catch the film in fragments throughout the day. At this point, we could quote entire scenes by heart. We’ve even made pilgrimages to the Christmas Story House in Tremont.
But I’m not here to sing praises of “A Christmas Story,” as dear to my heart as it is. My colleagues have already done that. I’m here to declare that “Home Alone” and its excellent sequel “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (do not speak to me about any subsequent films in the franchise) are the best Christmas movies. They’re funny, they’re heartfelt and they have perfect musical scores. They blow their often cloying competition out of the water. The saccharine heroes of “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Miracle on 34th Street” just can’t compete with the genius hi-jinks of Kevin McCallister.