It just wouldn’t feel like the Christmas season without TBS running “A Christmas Story” 24/7 leading up to the big day. The Bumpkiss hounds are running through the house eating roast turkey, Ralphy is wishing for his Red Rider BB Gun, the leg lamp is shining in the window and a blanket of white snow has quieted the neighborhood bullies, if only for Christmas Day. This is just one of many nostalgic movies that light up our hearts this holiday season.
Christmas classics seem to reign supreme for the baby boomer generation. The black-and-white nostalgia of “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) captures the innocence and the good will of a nation struggling to regain a sense of optimism following World War II. James Stewart and Donna Reed give compelling performances in a heart-wrenching tale of a suicidal man’s realization that he meant so much to so many people. Another old Christmas season classic from the same era is “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), which was remade in 1994. A department store Santa finds himself in court when he professes to be the real deal, which captures the heart of a six-year-old skeptic. Lastly, White Christmas (1954), starring Bing Crosby, where dance, romance and hard economic times take center stage.
Strangely enough, there are dark Christmas stories ranging from spooky and creepy to downright disgusting. Slightly older kids will still be able to handle “Gremlins,” a cautionary tale about what can happen when you don’t listen to your parents. Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” is a great stop-animation-type film blending Halloween land and Christmas land into one off-beat classic. “Scrooged” is an intriguing Bill Murray take on the classic Charles Dickens tale that’ll appeal to the teenagers who are in that awkward “I hate everything” stage. For the campy horror fans, there’s “Christmas Evil” (1980), “Don’t Open Till Christmas” (1984) and, of course, the “Silent Night, Deadly Night” series (there are five, spanning from 1984 to 1990!) “Silent Night, Bloody Night” (1973) and “Silent Night, Evil Night” (1974) are classic slashers.
There are also a number of goofball movies to entertain the whole family at Christmas. “The Santa Clause” (1994) with Tim Allen as the inadvertent Santa is known for its wide-appealing humor and beautiful scenery. Will Ferrell’s “Elf” (2003) has a child-like innocence to it that will have everyone in the family guffawing as “Buddy” realizes he lives like a North Pole elf but is, in fact, a human from New York City. “Ernest Saves Christmas” (1988) is truly a “holiday comedy like no other,” with the main character confronting job layoffs, Alzheimers, prison, insanity and greed; yet manages to do so in a goofy, chuckle-worthy way. “Jingle All the Way” (1996) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is about a dad who goes through extremes to get the “toy of the season” for his son; it’s by no means the best Arnold flick, but the kids will love it.