Want to bring a little of that true, old-fashioned Christmas spirit back to your hectic modern consumer Christmas? Old Hollywood is there for you with tons of dusty, old, inspirational classics, full of rosy-cheeked children and well-meaning old angles. Yet, this wonderful wealth of old classic movies is exactly what makes choosing a few for your family so maddening. So, in order to simplify one thing for you this holiday season, we humbly present our list of the 10 greatest classic Christmas movies of all time.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with a little more color, we’ve got you covered, too. Check out our other Christmas movie lists here:
Anyway, without further ado, here’s what you came for—nothing but the classics. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
10. The Apartment (1960)
Here’s the one movie on this list I guarantee you didn’t snuggle up with your family to watch every Christmas. The Apartment is all about extramarital affairs, drinking problems, suicide and unbearable urban loneliness, but it’s also one of Billy Wilder’s funniest, and best, movies. If you and your siblings are grown-up and no one has kids to entertain yet, please, please watch this movie, and find yourself filled with a different kind of Christmas cheer.
9. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
In The Bells of St. Mary’s Father O’Malley (Bing Crosby) is sent to St. Mary’s to revitalize the school, which is financially unstable. He immediately finds himself at odds with Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman), a strict woman with decided views on the best way to educate children. But there is a bigger battle looming over the school. The skinflint Horace P. Bogardus is trying to have the school condemned. The story of the miracle that saved the school was nominated for 8 Oscars in 1946.
8. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
The diverting tale of Cary Grant come to earth as an angel, to help a beleaguered bishop who’s trying to build a cathedral and has lost his true vision. With lovely Loretta Young as the bishop’s wife and David Niven as her harried husband, Grant makes for an urbane, well-dressed heavenly visitor who finds himself tempted by earthly joys, and the bishop’s wife. Don’t miss the hilarious figure skating scene where the skating doubles look nothing like the actors.
7. White Christmas (1954)
Aren’t we all dreaming of a ‘White Christmas’? The movie starring Bing “Mr. Christmas” Crosby and Danny Kaye is as charming as the tune, with all the elements to warm the heart: Two GIs come home from WWII, fall in love with singing-and-dancing sisters and help their general with his failing Vermont inn. Awww.
6. Babes in Toyland (1934)
Mother Goose rhymes come to life in this ’34 classic (reissued in ’52 as ‘March of the Wooden Soldiers’) starring comedy legends Laurel and Hardy as gut-bustingly bumbling toymakers out to save Toyland from the nefarious Barnaby. And if tricking him into a same-sex wedding is what it takes, so much the better.
5. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Arnold Schwarzenegger was so enamored with this classic he directed his own TV version in 1992. True story. But for the love of Sinbad, stick to the original, a serene screwball comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck as a food writer who misleads her readers in adorably forgivable ways.
4. A Christmas Carol (1951)
Also known as ‘Scrooge,’ this take is hailed as the best for its definitive Ebenezer Scrooge, fittingly played by a man named Alastair Sim, who gives a superb performance. Though a colorized version exists, we’d recommend kicking it old school and watching it in its original black and white beauty.
3. Holiday Inn (1942)
Plot? Who cares? Starring the dream team of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and ringing with classic Irving Berlin tunes, the musical resulted in one Oscar (for ‘White Christmas’), two films based on songs from the movie (White Christmas and Easter Parade) and a ginormous hotel chain. Irving would be … proud.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A tale of depression and almost-suicide doesn’t exactly scream “Christmas classic” — which is probably why Frank Capra’s flick flopped at the box office. But more than 30 years later, it endures as a beloved testament to everything Christmas embodies: family, friends and the joy of life.
1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
If this ’47 classic doesn’t make you a Santa believer, nothing (especially the ’94 remake) will. It’s dark stuff for a Christmas flick — Kris Kringle is put on trial to determine if he’s legally insane — but the endgame (in which the US Postal Service saves the day!) is utterly heartwarming.
Free Downloads to Do More with Your Movie Collection
Own these DVDs already? DVDs are so fragile. Why not rip the DVDs and back them up, preserving them forever on your computer’s hard drive. Or, transfer the DVD rips to your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android—pretty much any mobile device—and let the whole family enjoy these classics this holiday season. Check out these free downloads here (Mac Versions are available to, just click on the link):
Anyway, get these movies and get yourself and your loved ones in front of the big screen for a fantastic holiday movie marathon of your very own. Happy Holidays!