The Christmas season is full of memories for us all, some of my favourites come from gathering around the sitting room with a crackling fire and watching a brightly coloured Christmas film with my nearest and dearest. Each picture floating on that silver screen holds a wonderful feeling or message that this season brings to us all. These are the vintage films whose messages hold strong even today and tell the time old stories that we all love to see at Christmas.
Merry Christmas and God bless us every one!
1. Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, 1954
With wonderful costumes and a sparkling star-studded cast, White Christmas has been a staple of the holiday season for many years in many families. In this wintry tale, we follow Captain Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Private Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) through a mixture of song and humour into the last of the war times, to their lives in show businesses and trials in Romance. Sisters Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) jump in too, bringing fantastic dance numbers and witty repartee.
2. Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
While this movie was unsuccessful at the box office in the years that followed new audiences began to appreciate the story of the life of George Bailey (James Stewart) and his guardian angel Terrence Odbody (Henry Travers). While our hero George is the pride and joy of the town and who keeps everything running, he begins to doubt his significance in everyone’s life and the meaning of the Christmas season.
3. A Christmas Carol, 1984
A film christened by my mother as the ‘definitive Christmas Carol’ is the 1984 British-American made-for-television version. Filmed in Shrewsbury (Shropshire, UK) a historical medieval town you can well believe you have walked into Victorian England at Christmas. With the great George C. Scott taking up the mantle of Scrooge and recreating out his transformation it spreads a message to us all.
4. Christmas in Connecticut, 1945
This seasonal film revolves around the writer Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) whose articles about her fictitious Connecticut farm, husband, and baby are beloved by housewives across America. When her publisher Alexander Yardly (Sydney Greenstreet) asks a wounded soldier (Dennis Morgan) up to her farm for Christmas the charade begins to fall apart. With the help of her chef Felix Bassenak (S. C Sakall) and the lovelorn John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner) she begins to cause Christmas trouble and a little romance cleaning up her mess.
5. The Apartment, 1960
C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a clerk in an office brimming with people, so to begin climbing the corporate ladder he loans out his apartment to his bosses to conduct their extramarital affairs in. As this arrangement causes more and more problems in his life he begins to fall in love with the beautiful elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine.) Drama ensues but wraps itself neatly in a red ribbon just in time for New Year’s Eve.
6. The Little Shop Around the Corner, 1940
This film has lain dusty and relatively unknown for many many years, but what a treasure it is. Set in Budapest in the years after the war the events centre around Matuschek & Co, a little shop around the corner. Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullivan) both work rather badly together, but in their private lives are falling in love with people very different from the one’s they have created in their imaginations.