12 Classic Christmas Movies To Watch With Your Kids

There is nothing more enjoyable than taking a break from the lengthy holiday preparations this month and relaxing in front of a great film about the holiday. You may have already seen Elf, A Christmas Story, and Love Actually on a yearly basis by this point, though. You might even go back to 1946 to see It’s a Wonderful Life (again), but what other classic movies from Hollywood’s heyday should you add to your rotation this year?

EW has compiled a dozen black-and-white films that perfectly capture the spirit of the season if you’re trying to expand your viewing list into a more vintage era. It’s no secret that the holiday season is the ideal time for nostalgia, and few actors better capture that sentiment than Jimmy Stewart as a smitten shopkeeper, Bette Davis as a witty secretary, or Barbara Stanwyck as she delightfully struggles with household chores. So the next time you’re ready to get comfy on the couch, check out any or all of these festive films below.

A Christmas Carol (1951)

Alastair Sims portrays Scrooge in Dickens’ classic Christmas fable in an absolutely unforgettable way. The contrast between Ebenezer at the beginning of the movie and Ebenezer at the conclusion makes it difficult to tell whether they are the same person. The stark black-and-white cinematography furthers the impression that this is a straightforward ghost story.

There are other Christmas carols available to see, including Spirited this year starring Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell, as well as animated, CGI, Muppets, and Scrooged by Bill Murray. However, this Christmas you might just want to reread the all-time great and reflect on your own Christmases in the past, present, and future.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is another option for you if you liked A Christmas Carol (1992). If you’re looking for a different version of A Christmas Carol, Gonzo, we like to see Michael Caine having fun with Kermit.

Bachelor Mother (1939)

When Ginger Rogers began this enjoyable romp set around the holiday season, she was just ending her long-running musical collaboration with Fred Astaire. It’s noteworthy to note how the concerns about an unmarried mother at the time are nicely conveyed in this film. Shopgirl Polly Parrish, who is wrongly recognised as the mother of an abandoned child, is Rogers.

The situation becomes complicated, especially when her boss (the dashing David Niven) becomes involved in the affair and is mistakenly thought to be the father. Even though Polly initially seems (rightfully) doubtful about everyone’s notion that the best Christmas present for a young lady is a child, she finally rises to the challenge because Rogers has amazing chemistry with both Niven and the baby.

If you loved Bachelor Mother, you might also like Kitty Foyle (1940), a non-Astaire film that demonstrates Rogers’ abilities in non-dancing roles. She received the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a middle-class woman who falls for a wealthy con man.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Barbara Stanwyck plays a career lady from the 1940s who has essentially positioned herself as a home goddess before Martha Stewart in this entertaining escapade. In reality, though, she is simply a fantastic writer. Therefore, she rents out a magnificent Connecticut home, complete with a phoney husband and child, when her publisher wishes to meet her in person.

Then, a visit from a remarkably charming war veteran (Dennis Morgan) poses a threat to undo the entirety of her charade. From beginning to end, this movie is a holiday delight, replete with trimming the tree, flipping flapjacks, and a flirtatious carriage ride.

If you loved Christmas in Connecticut, you might also like Preston Sturges’ 1941 comedy The Lady Eve, in which Barbara Stanwyck easily defeats a helpless Henry Fonda in a battle of the sexes.

Holiday Affair (1949)

In this post-war romance, a brunette Janet Leigh and a broad-shouldered Robert Mitchum share fantastic chemistry. Just before Christmas, they encounter each other in a department shop (a common location in these holiday films!). However, she is a young widow with a young boy who is six years old and has a committed suitor (too bad, Wendell Corey).

With Mitchum involved, safety and security are inevitably going to lose the battle against such intense romantic attraction. However, Connie’s lovely kid Timmy (Gordon Gebert), who manages to be sweet without being sappy (see also: Natalie Wood, above), virtually takes the whole thing by storm.

Out of the Past (1947), a classic film noir in which Robert Mitchum is tasked with finding a friend’s (Kirk Douglas) lost wife (Jane Greer), but unavoidably ends up falling for her himself, may interest you if you loved Holiday Affair.

It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

When a wealthy industrialist moves south for the winter, two homeless men find a solution to their housing issue by squatting at his residence on Fifth Avenue. Hijinks unavoidably follow, particularly when the wealthy man’s daughter arrives at the New York house after fleeing from finishing school and a few other WWII veterans and their families join the fray just in time for the holidays.

5th Avenue creates an inviting communion between the haves and the have-nots, while also drawing attention to the post-war housing issue. especially after they all switch places and see the world from an alternate perspective.

If you enjoyed It Happened on Fifth Avenue, you might also like The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), which has a similar plot and features Jean Arthur unwittingly helping a stuffy tycoon (Charles Coburn) pose as a low-status employee in an effort to stop a union from being formed.

Meet John Doe (1941)

In this charming 1941 film, Frank Capra takes on the “forgotten man.” As a fast-talking newspaper reporter in the style of His Girl Friday, Barbara Stanwyck creates an anonymous letter in the newspaper from a man threatening to jump off the top of city hall on Christmas Eve in protest at man’s ongoing cruelty to man.

The John Doe turns into a sensation as everyone in the city wants to hire him and keep him from jumping. As a result, Gary Cooper was chosen by Stanwyck and the newspaper to pose as John Doe. However, John Doe immediately becomes overwhelmed by all the attention. This film might even surpass Capra. With its celebration of common people and the bonds between neighbours, It’s a Wonderful Life expresses a spirit that is ideal for the holiday season.

Even though it’s very different from Meet John Doe, you might also like Howard Hawks’ Ball of Fire (1941), another movie with Stanwyck and Cooper. Stanwyck is a smart nightclub performer in Ball of Fire who hides away with stuffy academic Cooper and his lovable group of professorial pals.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Doris (Maureen O’Hara), a divorced woman with a demanding career and a smart beyond her years daughter named Susan (Natalie Wood), employs a peculiar man to portray Santa Claus at the department store Macy’s. He genuinely thinks he’s Santa Claus! Along the way, he runs into some problems due to his assumed identity, but he even manages to soften Doris and Susan’s heart while a young, ambitious lawyer (John Payne) attempts to defend Santa legally.

For the part of Kris Kringle that he was destined to portray, Edmund Gwenn received an Oscar. And let’s face it, wouldn’t it be nice to have a legal justification for Santa Claus at this time of year? EW explained: “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind, says Kris Kringle himself. And the 1947 smash hit is the best movie ever for getting you in the holiday spirit.”

While we’ll always remember Gwenn initially as Santa, he also made a great Mr. Bennett in the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. If you loved Miracle on 34th Street, you might also like:

The Apartment (1960)

In Billy Wilder’s attack on the hollowness of corporate culture, Jack Lemmon plays office lackey C.C. Baxter who has a crush on cute elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). All of the higher-ups use Baxter’s eponymous home for their extramarital dates, which he uses to advance professionally until he learns that Fran is seeing his own boss (Fred MacMurray, expertly playing against type). During the holidays, framing The Apartment (the office Christmas party, the depressing New Year’s Eve celebrations!) only emphasises how alone our players are until they are able to forge a genuine connection of their own. “Love conquers all in The Apartment,” according to EW.

Some Like It Hot (1959), another Wilder-Lemmon collaboration (and soon-to-be Broadway musical! ), stars the actor alongside Tony Curtis as a couple of musicians who witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and must flee… in an all-girl band. If you liked The Apartment, you might also like it.

Gale Storm and Don DeFore, 1947’s IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE (also known as IT HAPPENED ON FIFTH AVENUE).

The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

Cary Grant has always had an ethereal quality to his acting, but never more so than in his role as a real angel in The Bishop’s Wife. David Niven is the young bishop who has lost sight of what is genuinely essential, even his own family, because of ambition and the desire to construct a cathedral. Dudley (Grant), an angel, appears to make everything right again.

It’s actually difficult to find a Christmas movie that is more endearing than this one, as Dudley’s strolls through the city make it appear bucolic like a small town and each endearing local, from the Professor (Monty Woolley) to the title character herself (Loretta Young), is more endearing than the last. The Bishop’s Wife successfully conveys this message to its holiday audience as the bishop eventually rediscovers the true spirit of Christmas with Dudley’s assistance.

Grant looks to be having a great time, as EW noted: “He’s spacious, graceful, and seems often on the edge of chuckling with benevolence. Grant’s turn is entirely convincing.”

Holiday (1938), in which Grant once more displays genuine charisma as an outsider in a wealthy family, betrothed to a young heiress but feeling a strong attraction toward her eccentric sister, would also appeal to you if you loved The Bishop’s Wife (in one of his four pairings with Katharine Hepburn).

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

In this entertaining rendition of a Kaufman and Hart play, most likely seen in a high school close to you, the houseguest from hell takes centre stage. A promotion dinner was scheduled for Sheridan Whiteside, a renowned writer, to attend in Mesalia, Ohio, just around the holidays. He falls down the snow-covered front steps of the Stanley family’s home.

He then takes control of the entire home, comically mocking everyone, before, of course, turning his focus to resolving all of the Stanley family’s issues. As Sherry’s patient secretary, Bette Davis excels in a rare light comedy role. Jimmy Durante plays a Broadway visitor, and Billie Burke, the good witch from The Wizard of Oz, plays the frazzled matriarch of the Stanley family.

You Can’t Take It With You (1938), another enjoyable Kaufman and Hart production (which won the Pulitzer Prize as a stage play), might also appeal to you if you liked The Man Who Came to Dinner. It shares the same basic life lesson as It’s a Wonderful Life and shares the same director (Frank Capra) and some of its stars (Jimmy Stewart and Lionel Barrymore)… although you haven’t probably seen it a billion times yet.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, real-life acquaintances who work together but despise one another, fall in love after exchanging anonymous letters. You’ve Got Mail fans will certainly enjoy this film’s original material, and director Ernst Lubitsch creates a lovely ensemble of characters as the shop employees prepare for the holiday season in Budapest, no less. The protagonists, who are paid less than you might expect in a flashy Hollywood environment, yet see past their initial haughtiness and prejudice to discover a timeless love tale in a modest stockroom.

To Be or Not to Be, another extremely amusing Lubitsch comedy starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard as a combative married couple whose theatrical troupe unintentionally becomes involved in the effort to capture a Nazi agent, is something you could like if you loved The Shop Around the Corner.

The Thin Man (1934)

As they frolic through Manhattan’s nightlife solving crimes, Dashiell Hammett’s sophisticated, urbane, and witty Nick (William Powell) and Nora (Myrna Loy) Charles are relationship goals. Powell and Loy have a natural chemistry that helps the films feel lighter, even when they are about a murder investigation (they eventually made 14 movies together, including several Thin Man features).

This first book in the series begins over the holidays, which is a fitting time to introduce it: If only we could all identify murderers at opulent dinner parties or toast the holiday season with a long line of martinis. According to EW, the Thin Man series “Even the inferior ones are enjoyable, while the first one is the greatest. They certainly outperformed holiday small chat.” “Next anybody who says ‘Merry Christmas’ to me, I’ll kill ’em,” says Nora, who has a holiday hangover.

The Thin Man Returns is another film that you might like if you loved The Thin Man (1936). Even if the second film isn’t as good as the first, it does include an unexpected villain and an early appearance by Jimmy Stewart.





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Being a binge-watcher himself, finding Content to write about comes naturally to Divesh. From Anime to Trending Netflix Series and Celebrity News, he covers every detail and always find the right sources for his research.

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