This season, enjoy these 10 films full of the Christmas spirit
Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 5:57 p.m.
When it comes to Christmas, three things are pretty much a given: 1. You will get a calendar from someone. 2. At least one relative will exclaim, “I love it!” and then beat a path to the store to exchange your gift. 3. You will at some point catch a bit of “It's a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” because they are both fantastic as well as inescapable.
But what if you want more than George Bailey and Ralphie in that pink bunny costume this year?
What if you want something different?
Well, then you've come to the right place.
These 10 Christmas films include a few favorites as well as some movies you may never have heard of before. They are full of the Christmas spirit and are more than a little sentimental. Of course, sentiment on the holidays is like tinsel on a Christmas tree. There's no such thing as too much.
“The Snowman” (1982): When a boy makes a snowman, he comes alive at midnight and the two of them embark on a magical adventure through the night. They take to the skies as a gorgeous song plays (the only sound in this otherwise silent cartoon), see a whale and meet Santa as well as a host of other snowmen. If the classic “Frosty the Snowman” had a quietly beautiful cousin, this cartoon would be it.
“Prancer” (1989): Jessica (Rebecca Harrell Tickell) is a unusual girl who loves Christmas, sings off-key with gusto and is no stranger to mischief. When she discovers an injured reindeer, she is convinced it is the property of Santa himself. Since she can't just mail the reindeer back to the North Pole (Try to get the post office to bite on that one!), she nurses him back to health while waiting for Santa to pick up his wayward pal.
“The Bells of St. Mary's” (1945): Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby), new to the worn-down, but beloved St. Mary's Academy, butts heads with Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman) in about as charming a way as two people can disagree. When Sister Benedict teaches a student to box after he gets beaten up, the look on Father O'Malley's face when he realizes what she's done is priceless. Together, they work on an old businessman's heart to try to get him to donate his new building to the school.
“Christmas on Division Street” (1991): When new Philadelphia arrival Trevor (Fred Savage) goes to the library to work on a school paper, he meets the “Minister of Education,” also known as Cleve (Hume Cronyn), a homeless man and history buff. Trevor strikes up a friendship with Cleve and learns how easy it is to slip through life's cracks.
“Christmas in Connecticut” (1945): From her city apartment, popular columnist Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck), a single, independent gal, spins a yarn about her life on a farm with a husband, a baby and the kind of cooking that would make Martha Stewart jealous. When a war hero and her publisher decide to spend Christmas with Mrs. Do It All, it's all Elizabeth can do to keep up with the lies. Especially when she falls for the hero.
“The Christmas Bunny” (2010): When foster child Julia (Sophie Bolen) starts out with yet another family, she won't say a word. Julia slowly begins to open up when a wounded rabbit enters her life. Florence Henderson is wonderful in a very un-Brady-like role as the Bunny Lady, a curmudgeon who helps heal the rabbit and trains Julia on how to properly care for it.
“The Nutcracker” (1977): In this American Ballet Theatre production, Clara (Gelsey Kirkland) has the kind of dream you don't want to wake up from when she nods off with her Nutcracker doll nearby. When the Mouse King and his minions arrive, the doll comes to life to defend Clara and then turns into a prince (Mikhail Baryshnikov). The two end up dancing the night away. Whether you like ballet or not, you have to appreciate Baryshnikov's grace. He moves like a feather caught in a breeze.
“A Christmas Memory” (1997): Young Buddy (Eric Lloyd), who is living in the South with elderly relatives, has a special bond with one of them. Sook (Patty Duke) and Buddy busy themselves making fruitcakes that most folks do not really want, finding just the right Christmas tree to cut down and swapping a story or two. Duke turns in a memorable and touching performance as a woman who is a bit scattered but full of wonder.
“Christmas Story” (2007): Not to be confused with “A Christmas Story” and good old Ralphie, this is a tale from Finland about the origins of Santa. When young Nikolas becomes an orphan, six families in the village agree to each take him for a year and pass him to the next house on Christmas. To repay them for their kindness, the boy leaves toys he carves at their doors on Christmas Eve. As he grows older, his life revolves around secretly making toys for more and more villages as the legend grows among the children of who could be doing such a magical thing.
“The Angel Doll” (2002): Whitey (Cody Newton) and Jerry (Michael Welch) become friends in the 1950s while sharing a paper route. While Jerry's family is like a Norman Rockwell painting, Whitey is growing up in poverty with an alcoholic mother and a little sister who has polio. But such differences don't matter when you are a kid, do they? Together, they team up to get Whitey's sister an angel doll.