STEWART, REED…WONDERFUL | Best Christmas movie of all time
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
There’s just not a better movie out there than this Frank Capra classic, which stars Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Great story, fabulous cast. We started watching this each Christmas when I was a kid and now Lee Ann and I watch it at least once during the Christmas season, usually with the kids. Last year was the first time the kids really sat through all of it…one of the all-time bests and one of my all-time favorites of any genre…
Read a thorough storyline about this movie here.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version)
I know. The “original” 1947 edition, with Natalie Wood, is on everone else’s list. I’ve seen it but prefer the 1994 version with Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins and Dylan McDermott.
If you’ve not seen the ’94 remake, here’s an interesting take on it from Wikipedia:
This remake had a more serious tone than the original and a large portion of the movie was rewritten, although the majority of the plot and characters remained intact. The characters of Alfred and Sawyer were removed entirely and Kris is instead manipulated to land himself in trouble due to a conspiracy between the drunken Santa fired at the beginning of the film and the agents of a rival store.
This version made much of the fact that the world in its current state is filled with greed and cruelty as demonstrated by how willing the people in the conspiracy were to lock up an innocent, benevolent man for their own selfish ends. This is contrasted with the number of people who support Kris, which includes an orderly at the hospital where he’s placed and, apparently, the police officers who arrested him. There is a scene where Kris tells Dorey that he sees himself (Santa Claus) as a symbol of hope and compassion in a jaded modern world of selfishness.
The film also added a subtext concerning religious faith. This is demonstrated in the climax of this version, where Judge Harper rules in favor of Kris after Susan presents him with a Christmas card containing a one-dollar bill with the words “In God We Trust” circled and he declares that if the United States government can issue its currency bearing a declaration of trust in God on faith alone, then he can rule that Santa Claus exists in the man of Kris Kringle. The words “In God We Trust” were not added to U.S. currency until 1957, so they would not have been on the one-dollar bill when the original version was made.
This movie was surprisingly good. Will Ferrell was great, James Caan was good and I love Bob Newhart in anything. Great fun.
4. The Santa Clause (the original)
I still haven’t seen the two sequels and probably won’t…because it’d be too disappointing, I’m sure. This was a creative and well-done film and Tim Allen – whose subsequent movie roles have mostly been stinkers, including the intensely horrible “Christmas with the Kranks” – was very good.
5. Polar Express
I just love this film. The reviews were bad, the box office was disappointing, but I think it’s one of the best-made movies I’ve seen. I debated the merits of this movie a little with our critic, Neil Morris, who obviously didn’t like it as much as I did…but the animation was great, the story was satisfying and I’m a Tom Hanks fan, so…what’s not to love?
6. Home Alone (the original)
This movie had a little bit of everything, from slapstick to redemption. The fact that it plays year-round on cable and that the franchise is worn now shouldn’t be held against it.
Honorable Mention: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Technically it’s a Thanksgiving movie…but…Steve Martin…John Candy…the ultimate “buddy” movie, and one of John Hughes’ best.
Note: “A Christmas Story,” with Peter Billingsley and the BB gun…it’s worthy of mention but I’ve honestly never seen it. A friend of mine who’s not a movie buff at all chides me about this every Christmas…I’ve seen snippets of it on TV, but never more than a few minutes of it….
What’s your favorite? Click on “comment” and tell me…