December 13, 2013

Christmas Movies

Reviews of our family's favorite Christmas movies, in no particular order. Well, okay, It's a Wonderful Life is put at the top because it's my favorite. But other than that, there's no order at all. :)

It's a Wonderful Life
  Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. I love It's a Wonderful Life. If I met someone who hates it, I'd fall over in shock. This movie is THE BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER!!! -ahem- Sorry. I'll try to contain myself. But seriously. I loooovvveee this movie.
  So, if you haven't seen it (-GASP-), here's a summary:
George Bailey has just one dream in life-to leave his hometown of Bedford Falls and travel the world. His dreams are put on hold, though, by the responsibility of staying and helping in the family-run Bailey Building and Loan Company after his father dies. He gives up his chance for an education, and lets his younger brother, Harry, go to college instead, with the agreement Harry would take over the business when he graduates. His plans are dashed, however, when Harry gets married and is offered an excellent job by his father-in-law. George allows Harry to accept the job, and resigns himself to running the Building and Loan Company, never to fulfill his dream of traveling the world.
George falls is love with Mary Hatch, a lovely girl he's known all his life. They get married and go on to have 4 kids. But all throughout this, George is battling Mr. Potter, the rich, greedy, and cold-hearted banker who owns half the town. George would stop at nothing to keep Mr. Potter from owning the entire town and throws his life into protecting the poor people of Bedford Falls. He finally reaches his breaking point, however, when the Building and Loan's cash funds are lost on Christmas Eve, causing the business to face bankruptcy and George to face criminal charges. Desperate and half-crazed, he almost commits suicide by jumping from a bridge into the cold waters below, but is saved by his guardian angel, Clarence.  George refuses to believe who Clarence really is, and mutters that he wished he'd never been born. Clarence decides to take him up on that and show him what life would be like if he had never been born.

*Spoiler Warning*
Bedford Falls, instead called Pottersville, is a horrible town full of nightclubs, gambling joints, and uncaring people. Family and long-time friends of George whom he had saved and helped from different scenarios in some way or another are totally different people, changed for the worse. Through this waking nightmare, George learns how much good he has done in the world and that not one life is unimportant. He prays (He sobs. Your heart just goes out to him at this part.) to be able to live again. When he rushes home, he finds the authorities waiting to arrest him because of the missing money. But  he doesn't care as he is overjoyed to simply find his family alive, happy, and waiting for him. Townspeople arrive with money to donate toward saving the Building and Loan Company. As friends, family, and acquaintances gather around him singing, he finds a book from Clarence in the pile of donated money. Inside are the words

"Dear George!- Remember no man is a failure who has friends! Thanks for the wings! Love Clarence"

And George realizes just how wonderful his life is.

*End of Spoilers*
James Stewart and Donna Reed are so perfect together. And their kids are adorable. :)
The movie has a lot of fun quotes too. "Janie, Janie, stop playing that piano!" "Oh, Daddy!!"
"I just came in here to get warm!" "Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?"
Whenever my family plays monopoly, we call the richest player Mr. Potter (or Mrs. Potter ;). Just a fun thing we got from this movie. :)
Mary wears some of the prettiest dresses. Especially the one at the dance and the one she wears when George comes to visit her. They're so delicate and beautiful and feminine and classy. Just thought I had to mention that. :0)

If you have NOT seen It's a Wonderful Life, you have to. It's just such a wonderful and heart-warming movie. Totally family-friendly too and the BEST Christmas move. Ever.
Rating 10/10
Yup, this is me when the Christmas tree goes up and it's time to watch It's a Wonderful Life. :D 

The Shop Around the Corner
  This is an adorable and funny Christmas picture starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan, and Frank Morgan (Wizard of Oz!).
It's Christmastime in Budapest, Hungary, where Alfred Kralik  is the top salesman at Matuschek and Company, a small shop owned by Mr. Hugo Matuschek, a short-tempered and high-strung man. Alfred and Mr. Matuschek disagree on whether to sell a cigarette box that plays music, Alfred claiming it's a terrible idea. Mr. Matuschek rather likes it, but is reluctant to ignore his top employee's opinion. Thus, Mr. Matuschek is delighted when  Klara Novak, a young woman in need of a job, proves her capability by selling the music box so easily and quickly. She is hired, much to Alfred's displeasure. Klara and Alfred ram heads from the start and can't stand each other. She thinks him rude, arrogant, and unfeeling; he thinks her annoying and silly.

*Major Spoilers!*
 Unknown to the pair, they have been corresponding with each other in a relationship by mail! Alfred realizes this when he goes to meet his mystery friend at a café and sees Klara there with the red carnation, their agreed sign. Though disappointed, he goes in and talks to her, not revealing he was the man she was waiting for. She's as rude and aloof as always, and begs him to leave so her mystery date doesn't think she's dining with another man. Alfred leaves, tired and disappointed. He had been fired that day because Mr. Matuschek is suspicious of his wife having an affair with Kralik. Of course, this isn't true, but Mr. Matuschek later finds out he was half-right in his assumption-only the man he should have fired was one of his other employees, not Kralik! As the movie progresses, Klara slowly starts to fall in love with Alfred, despite her mystery correspondent. When he finally reveals to her his identity, he asks her if she's disappointed. She says, "Psychologically, I'm very confused... But personally, I don't feel bad at all. " :)
*End of Spoilers*

This is a lovely Christmas movie. It's so funny. Pepi, the store errand boy, is especially hilarious.

Doctor: Pardon me, Mr. Katona? Precisely what position do you hold with Matuschek and Company?
Pepi: Well, I would describe myself as a contact man. I keep contact between Matuschek and the customers... on a bicycle.
Doctor: Do you mean, an errand boy?
Pepi: Doctor, do I call you a pill-peddler?

Margaret and Jimmy are so cute together, and their romance is adorable. They trade a lot of funny lines, such as the one on the right.
I would recommend this movie again and again!
Rating 10/10

Remember the Night
"Love reformed her and corrupted him." -Preston Sturges; writer of the movie

  This is one of my favorite movies. It's so sweet and funny! Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are amazing in it. They just fit together so perfectly!!
  A young woman, Lee Leander, is caught stealing and trying to pawn a costly bracelet at Christmastime. Her prosecutor, John Sargent, postpones the trial due to the reluctance of the jury to convict someone at Christmastime, even though her guilt is evident. Feeling sorry for her, he bails her out and takes her to her hometown, but her family hates her and doesn't want to see her at all. John decides to take the heartbroken and disappointed Lee home with him for the holidays. Met with love and kindness by John's mother (played by Beulah Bondi-Mrs. Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life!), Aunt Emma, and hired hand, Willie (Sterling Holloway-the voice of Winnie the Pooh!), Lee has the best Christmas of her life. It's turns out to be John's as well, as the pair fall in love, despite their different backgrounds. They spend a happy Christmas together and share their first kiss at a confetti-laden New Year's party, where everyone is dressed in old-fashioned costumes. (Hers is soooo gorgeous, I just love it! Unfortunately I couldn't find a picture of it!) Noticing their attachment, John's mother talks to Lee that night and tells her of all the hard work and time John had put into his career. She encourages Lee to give him up so as not to ruin his future as a lawyer. Lee agrees, knowing what the consequences for John could be if he were to marry a shoplifter.                                  

 Soon it's time for the pair to head back to New York-back for Lee's trial. *Warning! Spoilers Ahead!* John plans to throw her case so she'll be acquitted. Knowing what he's trying to do, Lee pleads guilty. She can't be the cause of his getting in trouble for throwing her case. She has to tell the truth. The two say a tearful goodbye. John asks her to marry him, but Lee tells him to wait and see if he still wants to when she's released. Annoyingly, the length of her sentence to jail is never revealed! Well, whether it's 6 months or 2 years, I just know they get married when she's released!! You can imagine what you like, but in my book they get married. They fit together too well and have such a sweet relationship not to! *End of Spoilers*

This is just such an adorable movie. It has a wonderful story and characters. And it has a lot of humor, which is always a plus in my book! :) I recommend this movie for all! It's family-friendly and such a classic!
Rating 10/10

A Christmas Carol
I have never seen another version of  Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. But that's okay. Because this version is perfect!! So, of course, y'll know the story right? Scrooge is this greedy, penny-pinching business man who is shown his past, present, and future by 3 different ghosts on Christmas Eve night. Presented with scenes from different points of his life-some bad, some good-, he realizes what a terrible man he's become. *Spoiler* He wakes up on Christmas a changed man, and is excited to give gifts to people he knows. They are all shocked by this behavior in a man who has scorned Christmas and all it means for as long as they can remember. He gives money to his housekeeper, a turkey to a the poor Cratchit family whose father works for him, and goes to have Christmas dinner at his nephew's house, something he'd never done before. Thus Scrooge discovers that giving is much, much better than receiving! :)
*End of Spoilers*

Alaistsair Sim is great as Scrooge. I haven't actually read the book, so I can't compare to the Charles Dicken's description of him. Regardless, he does an amazing job showing how Scrooge's cold-heart turns into one full of love.
 The Cratchit family is adorable-especially Tiny Tim! When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge *Spoiler!* how Tiny Tim will die soon, I cry. It's so sad! He was so sweet and uncomplaining and I just break down there....
*End of Spoiler*

This is another Christmas classic. It's almost a double classic since it's a classic movie based on a classic book. Okay...I'm not sure if that made any sense, but whatever. :)
Watch A Christmas Carol. You won't regret it. And if you do...well then, I'll just say, "Bah! Humbug!"
Rating: 10/10

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
*breaks into song*
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Had a very shiny nose!!
And if you ever saw it, you would even say it--"
Oh. Right. Back to the review.
Well, there's not really much to say. Other than the fact that this is the cutest thing and is something you need to see if you haven't! And it's stop-motion! How cool is that? (For those of you who have no idea what that is, stop-motion video is when you take multiple photos and put them together. Kinda like those little flippy things where the picture seems to move since each picture is a little different. And trust me. It's haaardd. My brother and I made a full-length stop motion Lego movie. It was fun for a while, but....let's just say we're never doing it again! It took us about a year or something. It's not top-of-the-line or anything, but I can fully appreciate it, since we put so much blood, sweat, and tears into it.)
I'm not going to summarize the movie since even if you haven't seen it, you're bound to have heard the song and it pretty much explains everything. ;)
Rudolph is absolutely adorable. Well, everyone is, really. :) Hermey, Clarice, Santa, everyone.
It's so funny too, with quotes like,
"It want to be a dentist!"
"Cute! Cute! She said I was cuuuttee!!"
"Bumbles Bounce!"
"Eat, Santa, eat!"

Totally family-friendly and totally adorable. A Christmas classic that you need to see if you haven't already! I'd recommend this movie to anyone, of any age. 
Rating: 10/10

Miracle on 34th Street
 The movie that proves Santa Claus is real! (coughcough)
I love this movie. Another Christmas classic. It  has everything! A good story, a romance, a cute little girl, and lots of funny scenes and lines!
 Susan (Natalie Wood) is a little girl who has been taught by her no-nonsense mother (Maureen O'Hara) not to believe anything fantastical or imaginative. She's encouraged to use logic and grown-up thinking, not imagination (the Imagi Nation!) and make-believe. All this changes when she meets Kris Kringle, a man who claims he's Santa Claus. He teaches her how to make-believe and to just be the little girl she is. All this time, people are trying to disprove his identity-but no one succeeds. Kris gets a job working in Macy's department store as Santa Claus. He annoys his employers when he starts directing customers to other stores for the items they are looking for! This proves to actually work out for good, as people are awed by a store that directs people to their competitors, and business increases. Meanwhile, Susan is confused about Kris, reluctant to believe he's really Santa, but finding it hard to find a reason not to. She decides to put him to the test when she asks him to get her a real house for Christmas for her mother and herself to live in, as they currently live in an apartment. Things come to a crisis when Kris Kringle is brought to court for claiming to be Santa. Will he win? Or will they prove him to be a fake? Will Susan get her wish of a house? Watch and find out! :)
The actors are all perfect in their roles, especially Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. Natalie is so good at acting all serious and grave. Edmund Gwenn IS Santa Claus. He's jolly and happy and friendly and looks just as Santa should be!
A great family movie, and classic Christmas film that should NOT be overlooked! :)
Rating: 10/10

White Christmas
 "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas...just like the ones I used to know.."
This is a great movie musical! I've actually only seen it once (gasp!) but own it and am going to watch it again for Christmas! :) What makes it so great?
 Well, okay. He's not the only thing that makes it a great movie, haha. Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen are also in it.
The story revolves around Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, two army buddies who are now in show business. When asked in a letter by their former army mess sergeant  to audition his two sisters, they agree. Bob and Betty, the elder sister, are attracted by one another, but get into an argument when Betty tells him her younger sister Judy sent the letter, not their brother. Meanwhile Judy and Phil dance together and Judy reveals they are heading to perform shows at the Columbia Inn in Vermont. Phil manages to get Bob to agree to go along with them, and the 4 performers boost business at the inn (which is run by Bob and Phil's former army general) by putting on shows.  A misunderstanding and a phony engagement complicates things as Bob tries to boost the moral of the General by inviting all of the men formerly under him in the army to the inn for Christmas.

 At the end of the film, Bing sings "White Christmas" with the help of his friends. Yay!
No one can sing "White Christmas" like Bing. They shouldn't even try. (Well, okay, I don't mind if you try, just remember Bing owns it, haha.)

So, I would definitely recommend this movie. It's cute, classy, a musical (!!), and hilarious.
I would warn you, though, that some of the girls' dancing costumes can be a bit immodest. In one number, Judy wears an outfit that is like a one-piece bathing suit with a peacock tail to it. It's reeaallly dumb looking.
But there are some gorgeous costumes such as the one she wears while dancing with Phil or their Christmas gowns the girls wear when singing "White Christmas". :)

Rating 9/10

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  Ah, the Grinch. Such a silly but cute story.
So, the Grinch is the unmercifully evil thing that hates Christmas, "has a heart two-sizes too small", and abuses his dog. Determined to stop Christmas from coming, he "got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch got a wonderful, *awful* idea!" He dresses as Santa, prepares a sleigh, and disguises tries to disguise his dog, Max, as a reindeer.  They go from house to house in Whoville, stealing all Christmas gifts, decorations, food, and anything else that can make Christmas happy to the Whos. He's almost caught by little Cindy Lou Who, but claims he is Santa and taking their tree to his workshop. (Cindy's the little "girl" on the right there. Despite the...weirdness.. of these Who "people" I gotta admit she's pretty cute.)
"You're a monster, Mr. Grinch,
Your heart's an empty hole,
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch.
I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!"

*Spoilers Ahead!*
 Once back on his mountain about to throw the stolen goodies over the side of the cliff, he waits expectantly for the sad cries of the Whos waking up to find their Christmas gone. But instead, he's shocked to hear them singing joyfully (Fa lou doray! Fa lou doray!..heehee. Sorry. Brother and sister joke. :). Then the Grinch realizes that Christmas is not contained in material things. It's contained in the love people (or in this case Whos) have for one another. (Of course, the true joy of Christmas is contained in Jesus's birth, but they don't go into that in this movie. Just thought I had to make that clear.)
 "And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!"

*End of Spoilers* 
 Please tell me my brother and I weren't the only ones who got seriously creeped out by this face when we were younger!

If you haven't seen this movie, it's a Christmas classic and great one for little kids!

Rating 10/10

A Charlie Brown Christmas
 Is there anyone who hasn't watched this?
This is an ultimate Christmas classic.
Charlie Brown is depressed and dismayed at Christmastime. Commercialism seems to have taken over and he doesn't understand the true meaning of Christmas anymore.
He is commissioned to pick out a tree for  the Christmas play and chooses a tiny little sapling, despite his friends' wishes for a big aluminum and modern tree. He is ridiculed for his choice when he returns and asks in desperation if anyone knows the true meaning of Christmas. His friend Linus recites the Christmas story from Luke.

 "'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'"

And then he states, "..That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

This is an adorable Charlie Brown movie with a great message. As much as I love the other Christmas movies we watch, none of them conveys the true meaning of Christmas like this one does!
Rating 10/10

 Christmas in Connecticut
 This is a hilarious Christmas movie!
Elizabeth Lane is the writer of a magazine column about her lovely home life on a farm in Connecticut where she lives with her doting husband and adorable baby. She writes mostly about her cooking, sharing recipes and tips, as she is renowned for her culinary talent. She gets herself into deep trouble, however, when her boss, Mr. Yardley, invites himself and a man just out of the army to her Connecticut farm for Christmas. Why is she in trouble? Because there is no farm. No husband or baby either. She can't even cook. Elizabeth has been writing these articles (with the help of her restaurant owning friend, Felix) from her little apartment building where she lives by herself. Her job and her editor's job is on the line because of this new dilemma. Feeling hopeless, Elizabeth agrees to marry her friend, the pompous John Sloane, who has proposed to her repeatedly. She then has a burst of inspiration when she realizes John himself lives on a farm in Connecticut. Chaos abounds as John  and Elizabeth (who are not yet married) and Felix (posing as Elizabeth's uncle) try to put on this hoax at the farm, along with a borrowed neighbor baby! John and Elizabeth keep trying to find time to be wed, without letting Mr. Yardley know that they aren't. *Spoilers Ahead! *A problem arises, when Elizabeth and Mr. Jones (the army man) fall in love with each other! But he thinks she's married already-and she can't tell him the truth if she wants to keep her job. The deception falls apart when Elizabeth and Mr. Jones arrive home from a night in jail (they rode off in somebody's sleigh and the owner pressed charges) to find "Elizabeth's" baby "kidnapped"-it had been taken home by its mother!She tells Mr. Yardley the truth about everything then, about the farm, the baby, her "husband", everything. She is fired by a furious Mr.Yardley, but now nothing stands in the way of her marrying Mr. Jones....or so she thought until his fiancée shows up! *End of Spoilers*

The whole film is really funny, delightful, and family friendly. At one point the maid sees John and Elizabeth entering his bedroom (and she knows they aren't married) to hide out until their guests have gone to bed-then Elizabeth would go to sleep in the guest room. The maid assumes the worst, however, and decides to leave. John and Elizabeth come down the stairs just as she's walking out and explain to her. The scene is handled very delicately, and kids probably wouldn't even notice it.
There's also a part when John and Elizabeth explain to Mr. Yardley that they aren't married. He is shocked and asks, "Then this baby is..?" But they quickly cut him off and say, "Oh, no!!" Then they explain about the borrowed baby. ;) So, unless your family is really sensitive about parts like those, there is no content whatsoever.
 The only thing that bugged me is, as much as I loved Mr. Jones (played by Dennis Morgan), he really should have stayed away from Elizabeth as much as possible if he was attracted to her, yet thought she was married! He didn't seem to have much scruple against being alone with her or taking romantic sleigh rides with her!
 I love Barbara Stanwyck. She was delightful in this! And her dresses are soooo elegant and classy. I would give almost anything for her wardrobe in this movie. And the farm she "lives" on-it's gorgeous. Completely and utterly.
 Felix (S. Z. Sakall) is HILARIOUS. I just love him, he's the best. He provides so much humor. "Catastophe!" "Hunky Dunky!" "I'm going to flip flop the flop flips."  :D
Rating: 9/10

The Lemon Drop Kid
This is a hilarious Bob Hope movie. In it, he plays "The Lemon Drop Kid" a crafty chiseler, named for his like of lemon drops, who persuades gamblers to change their bets on horses so at least one of his "customers" will win and share the earnings with him. Trouble arises though, when he talks a lady into changing the bet that she was placing for a "gentleman friend". She loses, and he finds out that the gentleman friend is the merciless gangster, Moose Moran! Moose allows the Kid until Christmas Eve (3 weeks) to raise the 10,000 dollars he lost. The Kid cooks up a scheme to raise money-he opens a home for "old dolls" (elderly ladies) and with the help of his friends stand on street corners with Santa suits and pots to collect money. Everyone thinks they are collecting funds for "The Nellie Thursday Home" (named after Kid's friend, an old lady who was kicked out of her apartment), when in reality they are collecting for Kid!

 Filled with lots of humor befitting a Bob Hope movie, this is a great film-although a little different from a traditional Christmas movie, haha! The movie also stars Marilyn Maxwell and William Frawley-Fred from "I Love Lucy"!
The movie is appropriate, although there is a scene or two where The Kid's girlfriend Brainey Baxter, who works as a dancer, is practicing the dance she puts on with the other girls. They're dressed in very short shorts and high heels. It's an scene easy to skip over, if your family feels the need to. And there are a lot of kissing between the Kid and Brainey, just to warn anyone who finds that annoying or anything. :)
 An interesting tidbit is that the song "Silver Bells" is originally from this movie! That's how I found the film-I noticed my piano sheet music for "Silver Bells" said the song is from The Lemon Drop Kid! So, of course, I looked it up, saw it was an old film, and had to get it from the library to try it!
Rating: 9/10

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about the movies my family watches at Christmastime! It took me forever to write these reviews! :P Merry Christmas!!!!


  1. I've seen it's a wonderful life, the grinch and miracle of 34th street. But my favorite is it's a wonderful life. By the way, I started a new blog.

  2. Oh, cool! I'm glad you've seen It's a Wonderful Life!
    Neat! Can you post a link to your new blog? I can't wait to see it!

  3. Here you go:

  4. Wow, those are great reviews! I'd take forever to write them, too. I've only watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer but I hope to watch some of the others.

  5. Tara-
    Thank you! Oh yes, definitely watch some of the others-you won't regret it! :)

  6. I LOVE It's a Wonderful Life and The Shop Around the Corner! And Christmas in Connecticut was really good too. :) I've also seen that A Christmas Carol, and it's good too... but my faaaavorite is the 1984 version with George C. Scott. CanNOT recommend it enough. If you like the book and period dramas you should love that version. :D

    A few other more modern-day-ish Christmas movies I like are The Christmas Box (excluding a bit of weirdness about this angel thing :P) and A Season for Miracles. :) There are a few other Hallmark Christmas movies I like too, heehee. (That's what the last one I mentioned is.)

  7. Melody-
    Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you love It's a Wonderful Life and The Shop Around the Corner too! They're such great movies!
    I might just try that version of A Christmas Carol. Thanks for the recommendation!
    Hm, I've never heard of those movies before. Maybe I'll watch them sometime! :)


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