Friday, December 3, 2010

Dawn's Top 10 Christmas Movie List.

I thought, I would share with you a list of some of my favorite Christmas movies, that have lots of holiday atmosphere. Boys choirs singing, park skaters skating, shoppers shopping even a cat with special powers. Why only a scrooge wouldn't like these wonderful movies. :) Have a wonderful Christmas from everyone here on N and CF !!

The Bishop's Wife (1947). Romantic/comedy. Cast:Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by Robert Nathan. Directed by Henry Koster. The film won the Academy Award for Sound, and was nominated for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Picture. Originally Cary Grant played the bishop and David Niven the angel. When original director William A. Seiter left the film, Henry Koster replaced him. He realized that the two were in the wrong roles. It took some convincing because Grant wanted the title role of the Bishop. He soon accepted the change and his role as the angel was one of the most widely praised of his career. Cary Grant's 51st credited film.

Elsa Sullivan Lanchester (28 October 1902 – 26 December 1986), played Matilda in, The Bishop's Wife, studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). Laughton's success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood. Her role as the bride in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), brought her recognition, and came to be one of the roles most closely associated with her throughout her life. Lanchester played supporting roles through the 1940s and 1950s. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Come to the Stable (1949) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), the last of twelve films in which she appeared with Laughton. Following Laughton's death in 1962, Lanchester resumed her career with appearances in such Disney films as Mary Poppins (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965) and Blackbeard's Ghost (1968). The horror film, Willard, (1971) was highly successful and one of her last roles was in Murder By Death (1976). Other favorite Elsa films: Son of Fury, The Bishop's Wife(1947), The Big Clock (1948), Bell, Book and Candle(1958) and Pajama Party(1964).

A Christmas Carol(1938), is still one of my favorite adaptations of the Dickens classic. Cast. Reginald Owen, Terry Kilburn, Gene and Kathleen Lockhart, Barry McKay and Lynne Carver. The spirits: Leo G. Carroll and Ann Rutherford. On Christmas Eve the hardhearted Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by his nephew Fred who invites him to his home for Christmas dinner. Scrooge refuses, saying that Christmas is a "humbug", and although he gives Bob Cratchit the day off, he later fires him when Bob accidentally hits him with a snowball while playing with his crippled son "Tiny Tim". Bob still wanting to give his family a wonderful Christmas, comes home with all the fixings for a wonderful Christmas dinner. Scrooge goes home, to his empty house, where he is visited by his business partner, the late Jacob Marley. Marley warns him to change his ways or face the consequences in the afterlife. In one of my favorite scenes the "Ghost of Christmas Past", makes an appearance. Scrooge sees events in his past life, both happy and sad, that formed his character.

The second spirit, the "Ghost of Christmas Present", shows him how everyone he knows is celebrating Christmas. The Ghost of "Christmas yet to Come" shows him how he will be remembered once he is gone. The spirits complete their mission in one night hoping that Scrooge will mend his ways.

Ann Rutherford (born November 2, 1920), her first film role was in Waterfront Lady (1935). Her best known role was in Andy Hardy's, You're Only Young Once(1937). In the Andy Hardy film series, she played Polly twelve times, with the last appearance being in Andy Hardy's Double Life(1942).

Ann also played Scarlett O'Hara's younger sister, Carreen O'Hara in the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind. As of November 2010, she is one of three actresses from the movie still living, all of them in their 90s.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945). Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet. Directed by Peter Godfrey. The character of Elizabeth Lane was loosely based on the then popular Family Circle Magazine columnist Gladys Taber, who lived on Stillmeadow Farm in Connecticut.

Holiday Affair(1949), is a light romantic comedy film starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. Directed and produced by Don Hartman who wanted Mitchum to expand from his roles in film noir and war films. The movie begins during the busy Christmas season with Connie Ennis working as a professional comparison shopper, who job it is to purchase an expensive electric train set. Connie, in a hurry and does not have time to ask questions, which sends a red flag to sales clerk, Steve Mason. After purchasing the train, Connie rushes home to be with her six year old son. She believes that Timmy, will not see the train, so she brings the electric train home with her. Timmy's curiosity gets the best of him and he takes a peek inside the box, with the train in it. Thrilled, thinking he is getting a train for Christmas until Connie, who is unaware that he has seen it, tells him the train is for the store. That night, Connie's boyfriend, lawyer Carl Davis , asks Connie to marry him. Connie then talks it over with Timmy, who is not happy about sharing his mother.

The next day, when Steve sees Connie bringing back the train for a refund, he threatens to report her to the store detective. Connie explains to him that she is a war widow with a son to support. Steve, in the Christmas spirit, refunds her money, but he is soon fired for not turning her in. While spending a wonderful afternoon together in Central Park, they talk about his future plans to build sailboats with his friend in California.

Later, while comparison shopping, Connie and Steve become separated in a crowd. Steve, with some detective work finds Connie's apartment and discovers Carl there. Carl is questioning Steve's presence and has an awkward moment with Timmy, who is still upset from the night before. Carl thinks it is best to leave before things get worse. Steve angers Connie, by saying that she should stop trying to make Timmy into the image of his father. Thinking he has worn out his welcome, he stops in to say his good bye's to Timmy. Timmy tells him about the train. As he is leaving, Steve gives Connie a passionate kiss.

On Christmas morning, Timmy opens the apartment door and finds the gift wraped train set outside. Excited he runs to thank his sleepy mother. Connie puts two and two together where the train came from and goes to confront Steve. Connie finds Steve in Central Park, and although she offers to pay him for the train, he refuses her money.

Who will Conny and Timmy be stringing popcorn on the Christmas tree with? Wendell Corey, a wonderful, stable man who is a little condesending, who wants to marry her. Or... Robert Mitchum, the drifter. Watch this charming Christmas film to find out...

Wendell Corey (March 20, 1914 – November 8, 1968), movie debut was playing a gangster in the film Desert Fury (1947). He went on to perform in the films: Sorry Wrong Number (1948). Holiday Affair, The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), Harriet Craig all were released the same year, Rear Window (1954), The Big Knife (1955), The Rainmaker (1956) and Loving You(1957).

Holiday Inn (1942). Musical. Cast: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, with music by Irving Berlin. The film has twelve songs written for the film, the most notable being, "White Christmas". The song was written by Berlin on the set of the film Top Hat in 1935. He hummed the melody to Astaire and the film's director Mark Sandrich as a song for a future Astaire-Ginger Rogers film. Astaire loved the tune, but Sandrich passed on it. Berlin's assignment for Paramount was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the year. He found that writing a song about Christmas was the most challenging. When Crosby first heard Berlin play "White Christmas" in 1941 at the first rehearsals, he did not immediately recognize its full potential. Crosby simply said, "I don't think we have any problems with that one, Irving."

Also,the film features the song,"Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning", written in 1917 for the World War I musical Yip Yip Yaphank and a complete reuse of "Easter Parade", written by Berlin for the 1933 Broadway revue As Thousands Cheer. The film's choreography was by Danny Dare.

Marjorie Reynolds (August 12, 1917 – February 1,1997), performed in more than 70 films. She was featured as a child actress in silent film, Scaramouche (1923). Her first speaking role was in Murder in Greenwich Village (1937). She also appeared in bit parts in many A-pictures including Gone with the Wind (1939). A stand-out role for Reynolds was in the film, Enemy Agent (1940). That same year, in The Fatal Hour. Her later films included Holiday Inn (1942), Ministry of Fear (1944) and Up in Mabel's Room (1944).In the film, Holiday Inn, she showed her ability to dance, and she performed "White Christmas" as a duet with Bing Crosby, although her singing was dubbed by Martha Mears.

I'll Be Seeing You (1944). Drama. Directed by William Dieterle and costume design by Edith Head. Cast: Joseph Cotten, Ginger Rogers and Shirley Temple, with Spring Byington, Tom Tully and John Derek. The story begins when Mary Marshall, who is half way through her prison sentence, is given an eight day leave pass for the Christmas holidays. Travelling by train she meets Zachary Morgan, the two quickly become friends. Zachary has just been released from the hospital as he has been suffering from shell shock and has become a prisoner of his own mind. In hope to speed up his recovery he prepares himself to getting back to his life. Attracted to Mary he follows her to her stop and pretends that he is visiting his sister in the same town of Pine Hill. Mary invites Zachary to visit her at the home of her aunt and uncle. Romance soon develops for the two as they spend Christmas Day together and attend a dance on New Years Eve. Both however have the problem of having to tell the other of their past. On their last day together Mary's cousin Barbara, unintentionally tells Zachary about Mary's real situation and in his is anger he boards the train without saying goodbye to her. After telling her family goodbye Mary travels back to prison to continue with her sentence. Will Zachary have enough confidence to overcome his disappointment?

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942). Comedy. When Bette Davis saw the Broadway production of The Man Who Came to Dinner, she decided the role of Maggie Cutler would be a wonderful change of pace after her performance in the film, The Little Foxes. She urged Jack L. Warner to purchase the screen rights for herself and John Barrymore, who tested for the role of Whiteside but was deemed unsuitable when he had difficulty delivering the complicated, fast-paced dialogue.

Remember the Night (1940) is a romantic/comedy/drama/Christmas film written by Preston Sturges and directed by Mitchell Leisen. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray and features Beulah Bondi and Sterling Holloway. Lee Leander is arrested during the Christmas holidays for trying to shoplift a very expensive bracelet. Assistant District Attorney John Sargeant is assigned to prosecute her. Thinking he may lose his case against Lee Leander when he hears O'Leary's argument to have the case decided quickly. He quickly adjourns the case until after the first of the year.

John posts her bail so she does not have to spend Christmas in jail. When John learns that she is from Indiana, where he is about to drive to visit his mother for the holidays, he offers to drop her off at home. Unfortunately, they get lost in Pennsylvania and end up crashing the car and spend the night in a field. The next morning, they are arrested by a farmer and taken into the justice of the peace. Lee starts a fire in a wastebasket as a distraction, and they escape..

When they arrive at Lee's mother's farm, Lee's mother turns her away, Lee is devastated. John decides to bring her home to his mother and Aunt Emma. Lee is looking forward to visiting a loving home for Christmas. John in confidence tells his mother about Lee, and she welcomes Lee into her home. A romance between her and John, begins to bloom. Jack's mother, believes that a relationship with Lee would destroy her son's career, and asks Lee to give him up. On the drive home, John comes up with a plan so that she can avoid prosecution. Will Lee pay for her crime?

Beulah Bondi (May 3, 1888 – January 11, 1981), played Mrs. Sargent, in the film, Remember the Night. She also perfomed in many supporting roles in several films during the 1930s, and was twice nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She played the mother of James Stewart in four films, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Romantic comedy. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Cast: James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. The screenplay was written by Samson Raphaelson based on a 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie, written by Miklos Lászlo. Set in and around a Budapest store, co-workers Klara Novak and Alfred Kralik do not like each other, while maintaining a secret letter-writing relationship, neither realizing who their pen-pal is. They fall in love via their correspondence, while being argumentative towards one another in real life. A major subplot concerns the infidelity of the store owner's wife, and its effect on the working relationships in the shop.

Bell, Book and Candle (1958) romantic/ comedy directed by Richard Quine based on the Broadway play by John Van Druten. Cast: James Stewart and Kim Novak in their second on-screen pairing (Alfred Hitchcock' s Vertigo, being the first). Columbia Pictures allowed Novak to perform in Vertigo (as a replacement for pregnant Vera Miles) in exchange for Stewart. Fans recognised similarities between I Married A Witch (1942) and the (1960s) much loved TV series Bewitched , believing that this film may have been an inspiration. The film is about your average, modern day, witch, living in a New York apartment/Bohemian art studio with her Siamese cat, Pyewacket. Gillian is bored with her everyday life. When one fateful day a handsome publisher, Shep Henderson walks into her apartment building and Gillian decides she wants to meet him. While hanging out at the local underground club, she discovers that he is going to marry her college rival Merle Kittridge. Gillian decides to cast a spell over Shep to ruin their marriage plans. With help from her aunt.

But.. her powers are in danger of being lost by something stronger than the bell-book-and-candle. Could it be love? Jack Lemmon and Elsa Lanchester add a lot of bewitching flavor as Gillian's beat nick family. "Bell, Book and Candle" is a reference to excommunication, which is performed by bell, book and candle. It is opened with "Ring the bell, open the book, light the candle," and closed with "Ring the bell, close the book, blow out the candle."

This was Jimmy Stewart final appearance as a romantic lead. This was because many of the leading ladies that were playing his romantic interest were a lot younger. The critics in 1958 felt that Stewart was miscast. After this film he would concentrate more on roles where he played a father figure.


  1. I've only ever seen four of these films! I may or may not watch The Bishop's Wife, but I'd really love to see The Man Who Came to Dinner, Remember the Night, and maybe even I'll Be Seeing You.

    It's nice to hear about some Christmas films other than just the typical It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and Miracle on 34th Street.

  2. That's a great list Dawn,I'll be sure to check some of these films out during the forthcoming holiday season.

  3. Great list, them all...this year I'll be watching THE BISHOP'S WIFE (a tradition), HOLIDAY INN, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, BELL, BOOK & CANDLE and a new-to-me favorite, REMEMBER THE NIGHT (at a local theater, hooray!). Thanks for a great post and so many fine video clips...

  4. Impressive list Dawn. I will have at least half of those on my list when I post mine. I will work on it tonight. Great post of yours with the added video and facts about the films.

  5. EMM, Thank you. I think you will also enjoy, The Bishop's Wife. It is a very heartwarming movie. I would love to see your list of favorite Christmas movies.

    Paul, Thank you. I think that you will enjoy this list of Christmas films as much as I do. TCM is featuring most of them this month. I would also love to see your list of favorite Christmas movies.

    The lady Eve, Thank you. I would love to see REMEMBER THE NIGHT at a theater. You are a very lucky girl!! I hope you will share your experience with us on your blog..

    Monty, Thank you, We have similar taste in films. So... I'm, realy lQQking forward to seeing your top 10 Christmas list of films.

  6. Wonderful list, Dawn. I'll have to make it my business to see these again.

    It's not a Christmas movie, but there are some lovely out-door winter scenes in UP IN CENTRAL PARK (1948). I especially love the Currier and Ives ballet. View here, starting at 6:10.

  7. Javabeanrush, Thank you. I love ballet. I will check it out!!

  8. Wonderful list, Dawn! Would WHITE CHRISTMAS make your honorable mentions?

  9. Rick, the movie WHITE CHRISTMAS, would defintely make my honorable mention list. :)

  10. Here is my comment for such a amazing post.


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