It's no secret that we love holiday films from the 1990s and '80s. But there are new classics, and then there are the greats. From black-and-white classics starring old Hollywood stars to stop motion made-for-television specials, here are the best classic holiday movies ever made.
Meet Me in St. Louis
This musical movie classic isn't exclusively a holiday film, but it was Judy Garland's performance of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that launched the song to success after the movie's release. It's a dreamy film that makes it impossible to not want to pull your family and loved ones even closer during the holiday season.
It's A Wonderful Life
Nominated for five Oscars and named one of the 100 best American films ever made, it should come as no surprise that It's A Wonderful Life makes our list of best holiday classics. We'll admit this one can sometimes feel like a downer. But when you think about it, though the trials and tribulations faced by George Bailey might seem unfair, it's his selflessness that makes this such a heartwarming classic.
The Shop Around the Corner
When it comes to romance and Christmas all bundled up into one black-and-white masterpiece, The Shop Around the Corner is a total winner. Plus, it stars Jimmy Stewart, which is always good for a bonus point or two. This movie tells the tale of two gift store employees who really can't stand each other at all... or can they?
It's not the first film adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and you can bet it's nowhere close to being the last. But this British flick has achieved classic status both here and across the pond. You can say it's a little grim and maybe sombre too, but it's Scrooge afterall and we're willing to say that Alastair Sim's portrayal is nothing short of genius. A colorized version of the movie was also released in 1989, for those who aren't fans of grayscale films.
Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer
This television Christmas special has grown to become a holiday tradition for plenty of stop-motion-loving families. Originally aired on Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC television network this is by far the best movie ever made about a red-nosed reindeer. And we dare you to try not to cry when you hear the plight of misfit toys like Charlie the Jack in the Box and that poor little train with square wheels in its caboose.
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town
Sure, the real life Santa Claus may not have been a white person, but in this Rankin-Bass stop motion Christmas special (this time from 1970) he's not only white but also bright blue-eyed and ginger-headed. Historical inaccuracies aside, it stars Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus and Fred Astaire as the narrator in a tale that tells how one orphan became Father Christmas.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
If you've never seen the original version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, you've really been missing out. The 1966 animated television special is technically considered a short film, since it's less than an hour long. But that's more than enough time to tell the story of how the Grinch tries to steal Christmas from the people of Whoville. Unlike later versions this film is nearly completely true to the original book written by none other than Dr. Suess.
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Starring Shirley Temple, this 1937 film tells the story of Heidi a young orphan who's sent to live with her grump grandfather in a small mountain village. Of course she's able to draw the outcast old man back into society, only to be taken away to be a companion for a rich man's sickly daughter. Look forward to some pretty impressive views of Frankfurt.
Miracle on 34th Street
Winner of two Academy Awards and nominated for best picture, it should go without saying that this is one of the best holiday films around. Sure, there have been remakes but there's something to be respected about the original version, which Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. In case you're not familiar, this movie tells the story of a a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real deal.