A list of best period drama movies for Christmas. Costume dramas that take place around or celebrate the Christmas holiday. Timeless classics, all-time Christmas favorite films, period television Christmas specials, older British movies, top family friendly and Christian faith-based movies, that take place during the Early and Middle Ages, the Georgian era, Victorian era, Edwardian era, First World War, Interwar, Second World War, and beyond. Period dramas filmed in England, UK and other countries set in that time period that are safe for children to watch, with family values. Made for television, historical dramas, old-fashioned romantic comedies, feel good films, traditional movies based on classic books and literature. More to come!
For the lists of the best period dramas and recommended documentaries in additional eras, wander over to: What To Watch: The Period Films List
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Made for television from the Dylan Thomas classic, the film concerns a traditional Christmas in Wales around the turn of the 20th century (probably late Edwardian era), told by a grandfather to his grandson in flashbacks as a story in a more modern day setting. Adapted from poem by the same name by Dylan Thomas (1914 - 1953), the movie has been aired on PBS.
The story is an anecdotal retelling of a Christmas from the view of a young child and is a romanticised version of Christmases past, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time. It is one of Thomas's most popular works. Filmed on location in Montgomery, Wales and includes some older Welsh carols like "On To Bethlehem Town" and "All Through the Night," this is a sweet, funny period film that is suitable for the whole whole family and has become a Christmas tradition to many.
It’s a faithful yet playful adaptation of Thomas’ work, a narrative poem conceived as a radio play, and the film is at once appropriately sentimental about Christmases past and tartly realistic about the Christmas depicted in the film’s present. It stands in contrast to so much Christmas entertainment that is either gloppy or pious; Elliott, as both narrator and lead actor, provides a vinegary crispness to the role of nostalgic grandfather. - Entertainment Weekly
"Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea." - A Child's Christmas in Wales
"For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens." - A Child's Christmas in Wales
Starring Denholm Elliott, Mathonwy Reeves.
In one haunted evening, embittered old miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who has soured on the world and his fellowman, learns the true spirit of Christmas from three ghostly visitors. After moving visions of long-dead happiness, of past and present remorse and a fearful glimpse into the future, Scrooge receives the chance to change his life for the better on Christmas morning.
Crotchety miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen) hates Christmas and mistreats his long-suffering employee, devoted family man Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart). But a visit from the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Leo G. Carroll) and three Christmas spirits (Lionel Braham, Ann Rutherford, D'Arcy Corrigan) might convince him to change his ways and become more kindhearted. This adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic became a holiday staple for decades.
For a generation of radio fans, Lionel Barrymore was the definitive Ebeneezer Scrooge. Alas, Barrymore was crippled by arthritis by the time MGM got around to filming Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in 1938, so the Scrooge role went to contract player Reginald Owen - who, though hardly in the Barrymore league, does a splendid job. Hugo Butler's screenplay must make some adjustments from the source material. The Ghost of Christmas Past, for example, is played not by a robust middle-aged man but by a beautiful young woman (Ann Rutherford). Impeccably cast, the film includes such reliable character players as Leo G. Carroll (Marley's Ghost), Barry McKay (Scrooge's nephew Fred) and Gene and Kathleen Lockhart (Bob and Mrs. Cratchit). The Lockhart's teenaged daughter June makes her screen debut as one of the Cratchit children, while Terry Kilburn is a fine, non-sentimental Tiny Tim. Commendably short for a major production (69 minutes), MGM's Christmas Carol is one of the best adaptations of the oft-filmed Dickens Yuletide classic, and definitely on equal footing with the more famous 1951 Alastair Sim version.
Starring Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart, Terry Kilburn, Barry MacKay.
Christmas elicits nothing more than "Bah, humbug!" from Ebenezer Scrooge (Scott), a miser whose sole pursuit of financial success has left him a bitter and lonely old man. But a Christmas Eve visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future ultimately teaches him to open his heart to the spirit of Christmas and to the joys of friends and family. The costume drama is a striking adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 classic story.
One of the most striking images in the book, and in this television adaptation, occurs when the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see the homeless masses living on the streets and suddenly reveals two scrawny waifs huddled in a fear that is both pathetic and menacing. Their names are Ignorance and Want. This crucial aspect of the always heartwarming ''Christmas Carol'' has been preserved eloquently for television. Filmed in the English town of Shrewsbury, on the Welsh border, the production beautifully evokes a sense of period and place, washed in misty pastel colorings. Care has obviously been taken. The story is clearly in good hands. - New York Times
Starring George C. Scott, David Warner, Susannah York, Anthony Walters, Frank Finlay.
Note: TNT's made for television A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart, Joel Grey, Richard Grant received lukewarm reviews, as did Hallmark's holiday TV-movie (based on the Broadway version) A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004) starring Kelsey Grammar, but might be worth a watch for anyone wanting to take in multiple adaptations of the story. For another early adaptation, see A Christmas Carol (1954) which features Fredric March (The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit) as Ebenezer Scrooge and Basil Rathbone (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) as Jacob Marley. Reportedly, this version is great family entertainment and is sure to help capture the spirit of Christmas. For fun, there is also The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) set in a Victorian Muppetland of sorts.
Crotchety Victorian businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) has no use for festivity, even at Christmas. After resentfully allowing timid clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) to have the holiday to spend with his loving wife (Hermione Baddeley) and family, Scrooge is swept into a nightmare. The ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), appears, warning that Ebenezer will be visited by three more spirits who will show the coldhearted man the error of his parsimonious behavior.
Alastair Sim's tour-de-force performance as the ultimate miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has almost single-handedly made this beloved version of Charles Dickens' story into one of the best-loved Christmas films of all time. Some of Britain's best filmmakers united behind Sim, who was joined by a delightful cast of accomplished and acclaimed English actors; creating what many today believe to be the best and most faithful production of Dickens' immortal tale. Cranky and curmudgeonly Scrooge learns the error of his unkind ways and is taught the true meaning of the holidays when he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future. A British holiday classic.
Widely considered to be the definitive of the many film versions of Charles Dickens' classic novel is this 1951 British adaptation, starring Alastair Sim (entitled "Scrooge" in its U.K. release). Sim plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a London miser who, despite his wealth, refuses to make charitable contributions and treats his sole employee, Bob Cratchit, as an indentured servant. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, who was as selfish as Scrooge in life and has been condemned to an eternity of wandering the Earth in shackles. Marley informs Scrooge that he's to receive a trio of spirits that night who will take him on a journey through Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. As Scrooge encounters each apparition, he is taken on a tour of his life and realizes what a wretch he is, transformed by greed from an idealistic youth into an embittered ogre. Infused with a new, cheery outlook, Scrooge sets about earning his redemption. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
Starring Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Jack Warner, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley.
A Christmas Story is a Christmas classic on DVD that tells the story of nine-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley). In the movie, Ralphie wants only one thing: a Red Ryder Range 200-Shot BB gun. When he mentions it at the dinner table, his mother's immediate reaction is that he'll put his eye out. He then decides it's the perfect theme for a report for his teacher, but her reaction is like his mother's. He fantasizes about what it would be like to be Red Ryder and catch the bad guys. When the big day arrives he gets lots of presents under the tree including a lovely gift from his aunt that his mother just adores. But what about the BB gun?
Director Bob Clark's charming, touching, and very funny adaptation of humorist Jean Shepherd's nostalgic, autobiographical Yuletide novel, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, remains essential holiday family viewing. Narrated by a man (Shepherd) recalling his childhood, the film looks back at the compulsive efforts of 7-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he tries every means possible to acquire his dream Christmas gift--a Daisy-brand Red Ryder repeating BB carbine with a compass mounted in the stock. Problem is, he lives in a Norman Rockwell-esque Midwestern town in the 1940s, where his parents, teachers, and even Santa Claus all warn Ralphie that "he'll shoot his eye out." Episodic in nature and seen entirely through the eyes of a child, the film offers a wonderful look at the day-to-day eccentricities that grew out of this conservative period. More interestingly, it cleverly captures childhood urgency, where even the most trivial fantasies or objects become immediate life-or-death necessities. While countless family Christmas movies serve up clichéd situations suffocating with preachy sermons, Clark's acute eye for detail and odd mixture of warmth, satire, and quirky humor are the reasons why so many viewers have rediscovered this after it initially bombed in the theaters. Sentimental without being syrupy, it's a true rarity: a holiday movie that adults and children can enjoy equally, for completely different reasons and regardless of the season. --Dave McCoy
Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz.
Note: The Orphan Annie radio decoder pin that Ralphie receives is the 1940 "Speedomatic" model, indicating that the movie takes place in December, 1940. Different decoder badges were made each year from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper.
A heartwarming holiday classic about a family who is down on their luck at Christmas time. Shortly before Christmas, they move into an apartment where Rupert the squirrel lives in the attic rafters and acts as the family's guardian angel not only saving Christmas, but changing their lives forever. Enlivened with an unforgettable love story between Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young) and Tom Drake (Meet Me in St. Louis). Rupert the Squirrel (created using George Pal's Academy Award winning animation) will charm young and old alike. Jimmy Durante shines when he sings well-loved Christmas carols in the evocative voice that made him one of America's recording legends.
“A Christmas Wish” is an old-fashioned, heartwarming story featuring the antics and singing of the talented Jimmy Durante. The plot involves the Amendola family trio, entertainers of the circus, made up of Papa Louie (Durante), Mama (Queenie Smith), and daughter Rosalinda (Terry Moore), who rent an old, dilapidated house. The landlord’s son, Peter Dingle (Tom Drake), takes a liking to Rosalinda and she to him. The Amendolas have been out of work for some time, but when Peter’s father begins storing his savings behind a wall, little does he know that a squirrel that is hiding there gets rid of it through a hole in the ceiling. The result is that, while Mama Amendola prays for new shoes for Rosalinda, the money literally falls from the ceiling! So, every week on Thursday, at the same time, she sits and prays again, and Mr. Dingle keeps making the Amendolas’ dreams come true! In the end, the story is all tied up like a neat Christmas bow. If you enjoy watching scenes of an old-fashioned Christmas, along with music and some romance, “A Christmas Wish” is the movie for you. We are happy to award it our Dove Family Approved Seal. If you have ever had a Christmas wish, this movie will inspire you to keep on wishing and believe that dreams do come true. - Dove
Starring Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, Tom Drake, Frank Cady, Queenie Smith.
Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she'll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and genorosity are all the riches she truly needs? Pivotal scenes take place at Christmastime and emphasize the importance of generosity.
The family-friendly mini-series is based upon the novel, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Produced by London Weekend television and shown on PBS / Wonderworks.
Starring Maureen Lipman, Amelia Shankley, Miriam Margolyes, Annette Badland, Natalie Abbott.
Note: The 1986 version is accepted as the most faithful adaptation of the book, partly because A Little Princess (1995) shifts the place to New York and the time period to 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I and makes a more fairytale ending. There is also a The Little Princess (1939) starring Shirley Temple, which also shifts the ending though it is set in Victorian England.
Set around Christmas in 1850's Wisconsin. In this fact-based drama set in the 1850s, the Eunsons move from Scotland to the American Midwest, where they live happily and run a successful business -- until the untimely deaths of both the father (Cameron Mitchell) and the mother (Glynis Johns) of the family. Now orphaned, the six Eunson kids must fend for themselves. Robbie (Rex Thompson), the oldest, does his best to care for his siblings while he searches for foster parents kind enough to accept such a large family into their home.
You'll have to keep wringing out your handkerchief during this heartwarming tale of an oldest child's efforts to find his baby siblings homes on Christmas Day after the death of his widowed mom. An intelligent, talented cast saves what could have been a hopelessly schmaltzy tearjerker. - TV Guide
Winter comes, and Mamie, exhausted, contracts typhoid fever. Robbie takes charge of the household, but several days before Christmas, Mamie calls him to her side and asks him to find good homes for the children. After praising her son for having truly been the man of the house, Mamie dies. During her funeral, the haughty Mrs. Runyon loudly asks what the villagers are to do with six orphans. Robbie asks that the children be allowed to spend Christmas together before being sent to the state orphanage, and Dr. Delbert consents to the request. - Turner Classic Movies
Starring Glynis Johns, Cameron Mitchell, Rex Thompson, Patty McCormack, Ernest Truex.
Note: One year before its American release, the film was distributed in Great Britain under the title The Day They Gave Babies Away. This may be too sad for many for Christmas viewing, but for some this is a heartfelt film with family values that gets top billing.
In the winter of 1944 at Christmastime, American soldiers led by Will Knott (Ethan Hawke) are assigned to capture a small squad of German soldiers posted in France's Ardennes forest. Tired of war, the Americans have already lost half their division and discover that their German enemy is equally unwilling to fight. With Jewish soldier Stan Shutzer (Arye Gross) interpreting, the Germans and Americans agree on a plan that will let the former surrender without violence -- but then, tragedy strikes. Not suitable for children.
"A Midnight Clear" recalls the often told story about a Christmas Eve in the trenches during World War I. At midnight, so the story goes, Allied and German soldiers met in the middle of no man's land to sing carols and toast each other's health. "A Midnight Clear" expresses something of the same longing, but without the greeting-card sentiment. - New York Times
We can see at once that this is a war movie - we know from the costumes it is World War II - but somehow the film is able to suggest some hidden purpose, and we know it will not simply tell a war story. It is Christmas season of 1944, late in the war. Germany has obviously lost. One of the Americans speculates that perhaps the Germans intend to surrender to them. There are other hints: Christmas carols drifting on the wind. A snowball fight. Eventually it becomes clear that the Germans - as young and inexperienced as the Americans - want to give up the fight. And here the story again stops following the usual war movie lines, and takes its own way. - Roger Ebert
The performances are uniformly excellent as the film moves inexorably towards bloody confrontation and spiritual reckoning. - Time Out
Sensitive, bright and supremely moral...shows how courage itself can be a kind of insanity. - LA Times
A movie to seek out and treasure. - Time Magazine
Starring Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Arye Gross.
Note: The film is a screen adaptation of William Wharton's 1982 novel of war remembered as "surreal muddle." This one is not for everyone: expect adult themes, strong language, violence and disturbing images in this tragic film about the humanity of the soldiers, on both sides, and the complexities of war.
It is Christmas Eve 1933, and the townspeople of Concord, NH are trying to hold onto their holiday spirit in the face of the Great Depression. But old Mr. Benedict Slade (Henry Winkler) is ruining what hope they have left by mercilessly repossessing their prized goods. Alone in his apartment, Slade is visited by three ghosts--Christmas Past, Present and Future--who take him on a fantastic journey through time that will show him the tragic consequences of his actions if he doesn't mend his ways forever. A unique retelling of Charles Dickens' beloved A Christmas Carol. Lensed in Canada, this made-for-TV film premiered the week before Christmas of 1979.
Starring Henry Winkler, Dorian Harewood, David Wayne, Chris Wiggins, Cec Linder.
Note: The make-up is bad and the story takes some odd turns but some might find this worth a watch out of interest as another adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and for those who like Winkler.
The award-winning cast of "Road to Avonlea" returns for this touching King Family reunion. As they prepare for their traditional Christmas dinner, their gathering is marred by the news that one of their youngest members, Felix, is missing in action on the battlefields of Europe. To make matters worse, the indomitable Hetty King collapses with an unexpected health emergency. An Avonlea Christmas is an uplifting drama that reinforces the power of family love in times of crisis.
As World War I rages in Europe, the citizens of Avonlea prepare for their annual Christmas festivities. Hetty King, always ready and willing to do her part for king and country, is planning a Christmas concert with the schoolchildren to raise funds for the war effort. Janet King however, whose son Felix King is away fighting in the trenches, would prefer to forget about the war altogether.
Starring Jackie Burroughs, Mag Ruffman, Zachary Bennett, Gema Zamprogna, Lally Cadeau.
Note: Shown on the Hallmark Channel, Happy Christmas, Miss King (titled An Avonlea Christmas on later DVD releases), is a Road to Avonlea made for television reunion movie. An Avonlea Christmas was filmed a couple of years after the Road to Avonlea sets had been taken down which made it necessary to find a way of recreating Avonlea. Existing establishing shots from the Road to Avonlea series were used to set up each scene and give the show a familiar “Avonlea” look. Portions of the interiors of Rose Cottage and the King house were rebuilt from scratch. From the producers of Anne of Green Gables.
And the Edwardian era, family-friendly Anne of Green Gables features a Christmas ball (to which Anne wears the famed blue puffy sleeved dress) and plenty of festive snow and a sleigh ride: "Megan Follows, Tony Award winner Colleen Dewhurst and Academy Award nominee Richard Farnsworth give unparalleled performances in the critically acclaimed motion picture based on the internationally best selling novel. Filmed amidst the spectacular scenery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, this Emmy Award winning production follows the provocative life drama of orphan Anne Shirley from her struggles as an adolescent to her triumphs as a young woman. A delicate epic full of wit, style and emotional power."
When an English aristocrat and her Granddaughter, Tilly, visit relatives in Ireland for the Christmas holidays, they find that the family has become impoverished and is looking to try and marry their son, Cameron, to Tilly to save their legacy. However, what the Grandmother has failed to relay is that Tilly is engaged already. So, it's up to Irish luck to help Tilly fall in love with Cameron. But what happens when Tilly's fiancé arrives to surprise her for Christmas?
It's December 1870, and we pick up on the adventures of Mathilda "Tilly" Bassett and her rich grandmother Isabella, having toured some of Europe's cultural centers and are now arriving in Dublin for a month-long stay. Tilly's inner struggle is between being a society woman in-the-making and the Yankee farm girl that are her roots. Isabella's mission is to expose Tilly to the world of letters; that's why she's bringing her to Dublin, to meet Ireland's poet laureate, the Earl of Shannon. But there's a saying throughout Ireland: "If you want to make God laugh, try making plans." "An Old-Fashioned Christmas" is the next chronicle in the saga that began with esteemed American novelist Louisa May Alcott's short story, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.
Starring Jacqueline Bisset, Catherine Steadman, Robert O'Mahoney, Marion O'Dwyer, Kristopher Turner.
Note: This doesn't appear to be available as a Region 1 DVD. An Old Fashioned Christmas is a made-for-cable television movie. Originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, it is a sequel to the Victorian era costume drama An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (with a different actress playing Tilly). The castle in An Old Fashioned Christmas is Knappogue Castle in County Clare, Ireland. Willow and Thatch's movie review for An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving is here.
Mary Contrary (Annette) is set to marry Tom Piper (Tommy Sands) when he is kidnapped by Roderigo (Gene Sheldon) and Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin), two goons working for the evil Barnaby (Ray Bolger). Barnaby wants to marry Mary for her inheritance. Instead of killing Tom as instructed, Roderigo and Gonzorgo sell him to Gypsies, which allows Tom to rescue Mary. Soon afterward, they all stumble upon Toyland, where the Toymaker and his assistant Grumio are preparing for Christmas.
Walt Disney's packaging of Victor Herbert's indestructible operetta is a glittering color and song and dance-filled bauble artfully designed for the tastes of the sub-teen set. "Toyland" should be a Christmas joy to every moppet everywhere. - New York Times
Starring Ray Bolger, Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ann Jilliann.
Note: This was the first live-action musical that Disney Studios produced.
Unemployed Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) impulsively picks up a baby left at orphanage doors at Christmas. Everyone assumes the foundling is hers, including Polly's playboy ex-boss (David Niven), who offers her a job if she'll live up to her maternal duties. A paycheck would be handy, so Polly complies. Then the boss's tycoon dad (Charles Coburn) assumes the infant is his secret grandson...and things really spin out of control. Buoyed by Rogers' irresistibly endearing performance, Bachelor Mother is one of those rarities, a brilliantly cast comedy where everything - plot, pacing and dialogue (thanks to Garson Kanin's savvy direction and Norman Krasna's witty script) - is exactly, hilariously right. Set during the Christmas - New Year season.
Ginger plays Polly Parrish, temporary Christmas help at Merlin & Son's department store. Charles Coburn is J. B. Merlin and David Niven is his footloose son David. Ginger is given her pink slip along with the other Christmas help and upon leaving the store comes across an old woman leaving a small baby on the steps of an orphanage. Ginger of course picks the baby up as the door opens and from here on in everyone assumes it's hers!
One of the season's gayest shows....the players are capital. Miss Rogers is demonstrating again that she is one of the screen's most knowing comediennes. Mr. Niven, as her perplexed overseer and baby-feeding adviser; Charles Coburn as the pontifical grandfather (by adoption); Ernest Truex as the man from the foundling home; Frank Albertson as the fellow employe and Ferike Boros as the landlady—all are perfect in their way. So out of the nowhere, like Polly's baby, a merry comedy has come tripping, all new and brightly shining and full of the most unexpected nonsense. -New York Times
A true classic. I have watched this movie every year around the holidays since I can remember. It is innocent enough for children yet entertaining for adults. - Amazon reviewer
Starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn.
Note: This 1930s film was remade as a musical in the Bundle Of Joy (1956): When Bundle of Joy premiered in 1956, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher were the cutest young marrieds in Hollywood, the obvious choice to headline the musical remake of one of the great comedies of the '30s, Bachelor Mother. As the Prince Charming of the piece, Fisher proves that as an actor, he is a pretty good crooner. But Reynolds is warmly appealing in the role originated by Ginger Rogers, playing a salesgirl who picks up a foundling, is mistaken for its unwed mother and must keep up the charade - baby and all - to keep her job.
A modern-day witch likes her neighbor but despises his fiancee, so she enchants him to love her instead... only to fall in love with him for real.
During the Christmas holiday season, Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), a free spirit with a penchant for going barefoot, has been unlucky in love and restless in life. She admires from afar her neighbor, publisher Shep Henderson (James Stewart), who one day walks into her gallery of African art to use the telephone (after Gillian's aunt Elsa Lanchester put a spell on his phone). When she learns he is about to marry an old college enemy of hers, Merle Kittridge, Gillian takes revenge by casting a love spell on Shep, and she eventually falls for him herself. She must make a choice, as witches who fall in love lose their supernatural powers.
Starring Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester, Kim Novak, James Stewart, Janice Rule.
Note: This is not a traditional Christmas film, though the movie whited opened on Christmas 1958 does feature wintery street scenes of New York and "Jingle Bells" is used to set the Christmas tone of the initial action.
George Vale Melton (Harry Carey), Allan Chadwick (C. Aubrey Smith) and Michael O'Brien (Charles Winninger) are rich but lonely, so they invite a pair of strangers, schoolteacher Jean Lawrence (Jean Parker) and cowboy James Houston (Richard Carlson) to their house for dinner on Christmas Eve. Both James and Jean seem to hit it off, but the next day the three old men are killed in a plane crash. Now ghosts, the three work from the afterworld to make sure the young couple stays together. A latter-day Christmas Carol, told with tenderness and warmth.
Beyond Christmas is a rare holiday treasure. This is the uplifting story of three elderly gentlemen who become the guardian angels of a kind couple they met at Christmastime. Before proceeding to Heaven, the spirits work behind the scenes to ensure that the couple's love will endure forever. Filled with heart and soul, this charming 1940 holiday classic is perfect for the Christmas season -- and beyond. This is a beautifully colorized version of this heartwarming holiday film.
Sensitive little drama of three wealthy men sharing Christmas with down-and-out Carlson and Parker, who fall in love. - Turner Classic Movies
This is one of the most wonderful and unusual movies ever produced by Hollywood. Three elderly men make friends of a lonely young man and woman who fall in love and become engaged. The three men die drastically in a plane crash, but become spiritual guides for this young couple as ghosts. The young man becomes a success as a singer, and soon lets success get to his head and ignores the girl he was going to marry. The young man gets shot and dies. The elderly ghost asks God to give the young man a second chance to live, to make amends with his true love, which God grants. As you can tell, this is not a typical Hollywood movie. It deals with heaven, hell, and purgatory without mentioning the words. It's a very entertaining, sometimes humorous, and moving movie. This movie isn't for everybody, but this movie has a deep spiritual meaning that will touch many. - David Erhardt
Starring Harry Carey, Charles Winninger, Aubrey Smith.
Four children...Two horse thieves...One amazing adventure! Saddle up and get ready to ride on a daredevil rescue mission that's a holiday delight! For four children in a small outback town, it's the last day of school and the first day of the Christmas season! So when they spy a pair of strangers hiding among the trees, they're too busy dreaming about the presents under their own tree to notice anything suspicious. But later that night, while the family is asleep, someone steals their father's prized horses. And to make matters worse, Dad's so upset that he decides to cancel the holiday altogether! But there's one thing the thieves didn't count on: these kids aren't about to let anyone steal their Christmas joy! Now with their saddlebags stocked full of hilarious tricks and traps,the amateur detectives head for the hills determined to catch the bad guys, bring back the horses and save the spirit of the season! Hit the trail for "humor, action and comedy" (The Film Daily) in this yuletide adventure that'll make every day seem like Christmas!
Starring Chips Rafferty, John Fernside, Helen Grieve, Nicky Yardley, Stan Tolhurst.
Note: This is an odd kind of film - not very Christmasy at all and it is dated, especially in attitude toward the Aborigines, though the role of the girl is nice in that she makes for a strong and brave leader. It is listed here as there aren't many Australian Christmas period films, and may be of interest to some. Nicole Kidman's first feature film role was in the 1983 remake of the 1947 film. Bush Christmas (1983) also known as Prince and the Great Race is another Australian Christmas drama film but the setting is more modern. Both are based on a novel by Ralph Smart and Mary Cathcart Borer.
Christmas Special 2012: The midwives of London's Nonnatus House deliver more babies and drama during the festive period, in this Christmas special; based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth. Christmas is coming and the midwives of Nonnatus House are busier than ever. When an abandoned baby is discovered on the steps of the convent, the whole community rallies around to try and trace the mother. Meanwhile, Jenny Lee finds herself drawn into the mystery surrounding elderly local woman Mrs. Jenkins and Chummy is determined to stage an unforgettable nativity play.
Christmas Special 2013: In Poplar, Christmas 1958 is not just about the opening of presents, but also about the closing of deep wounds. Wartime trials are relived - and a new enemy confronted - before peace and love are restored.
Christmas Special 2014: Rehearsals are underway for the Christmas Concert. Chummy is enlisted to help run a poorly managed mother and baby home and succeeds in bringing some festive joy to the residents. Cynthia is drawn into a case concerning two former residents of a mental hospital who have been left to fend for themselves. There is but one question in all of their hearts - what will 1960 bring?
Christmas Special 2015: Festive cheer is in plentiful supply as Poplar readies itself for Christmas. But it's a difficult time of year for grieving mother Iris; bringing back memories of her long departed baby daughter. As the community pull together to prepare for the televised carol concert, Nonnatus is rocked when Sister Monica Joan goes missing.
Christmas Special 2016: Nonnatus House receives an SOS from a tiny mission hospital on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Understaffed, underfunded, and with a poor water supply, struggling Hope Clinic is faced with closure. Can our much loved medics and midwives make a difference to the people whose lives depend upon its work?
Christmas Special 2017: Coming soon!
About the series: Adapted by Heidi Thomas from the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this drama series is a moving, funny, colorful look at midwifery and family in 1950s East End London. It follows newly qualified midwife Jenny, who joins an eccentric, lovable community of nuns who are nurses at Nonnatus House. Jenny is surprised to find herself at a convent -- she thought she was being sent to a small private hospital -- and is initially daunted by her surroundings, most notably the formidable Sister Evangelina and the unconventional Sister Monica Joan. But Jenny gradually begins to find her way and develops incredible friendships among the nurses, as they are drawn into the lives and homes of the women and families they treat.
Starring Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Parfitt, Jessica Raine, Jenny Agutter, Joanne Matthews, Monsay Whitney, Micky Baker, Miranda Hart, Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Lizzie Hopley, Ami Metcalf, Cliff Parisi, Sheila Reid, Pam Ferris, Jake Bailey, Max Macmillan, Ben Caplan, Laura Main, Stephen McGann.
Christmas 1919. Downton Abbey is hosting a lavish Christmas party, yet despite being the season of goodwill, tensions are rife and Bates' arrest has cast a shadow over the festivities. Will he be a condemned man or will he be found innocent in time to dance with his new wife at the annual servants' ball? Mary has to consider her future with Sir Richard Carlisle following a contretemps at the shooting party and Violet has concerns about Rosamund, whose new suitor - the dashing but raffish Lord Hepworth - is not all he seems.
The holiday is a mostly happy one—everyone is concerned about incarcerated Mr. Bates, and duly mopey Anna, but not enough to call off the present-giving, the feasting, and the games. Downstairs, games mean popping crackers, wearing paper crowns...The Servants’ Ball, with a lovely orchestra and plenty of spiked punch. Thomas waltzes with the Dowager Countess, Matthew says “Crikey!” and pregames his dance with O’Brien... Vanity Fair
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern.
Note: Christmas at Downton Abbey is Episode 9 of Series 2 of the acclaimed costume drama.
A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.
Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan star in Christmas in Connecticut (1945), a romantic comedy set during the holidays at wartime. Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a columnist for "Smart Housekeeping," THE magazine for aspiring homemakers. Every month she details her domestic triumphs from the idyllic setting of her farm in Connecticut. Touted as the "greatest cook in the country," she seems to have it all - a beautiful home, a happy husband, an adorable baby and of course, plenty of livestock. Elizabeth Lane is a role model to millions of readers who turn to her every month for guidance and inspiration.
One such reader is wartime hero, Jefferson Jones, played by Morgan. Lost at sea for many days without food, he dreams of elaborate meals such as those described in Lane's column. As a promotional stunt for the magazine, the publisher arranges for Jones to spend the holidays at Lane's farm. Sydney Greenstreet, more commonly associated with films noir than light comedies, plays the role of publishing magnate, Alexander Yardley. Yardley is so enthused with the idea of a war hero coming "home" for the holidays that he decides to join the festivities on the farm. The only hitch is that there is no actual farm, house, husband, child or livestock, for that matter. All of the material in Lane's monthly column comes from one place - her imagination. And of course, it is this same source that she must draw upon in order to continue the elaborate charade without losing her job. - Turner Classic Movies
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall.
In the 1900s the children living in the Irongates Orphanage devise a plan to make Rose happy on Christmas after she is punished.
In a town not so far away and a time not so long ago, baby Rose was left at Greenwoods Orphanage, where Mrs. Hartley (Nancy Stafford) and the children under her care become the young child’s family. But when tragedy strikes Rose (Bailee Johnson) loses the only home she has ever known and is abruptly shipped to Irongates — a place that seems as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind. The strict headmaster, Mr. Crampton (Edward Herrmann), immediately seems to dislike Rose — and makes sure all children are punished for any infractions of his rules. When she learns that every Christmas Mr. Crampton’s generous brother gives an orange to each child, Rose waits in eager anticipation. She’s sure it must be the most delicious treat in the world. However, on Christmas morning, Rose is devastated when she learns Mr. Crampton is punishing her again. But Christmas is a time of miracles. Share a slice of Christmas sweetened with friendship in this poignant Christmas story based on a classic holiday tale.
A beautiful Christmas film with a timeless message. Lovingly crafted, well-acted, and told with warmth and tenderness. - Meridian Magazine
Endearing from beginning to end! - LDS Living Magazine
Starring Edward Herrmann, Nancy Stafford, Bailee Johnson.
Note: This is a family friendly Christian faith -based film, awarded the Dove “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages.
A collection of nine enchanting silent films, A Christmas Past offers a nostalgic peek into the Yuletide pleasures of the early 1900s. Evoking the Victorian charm of Currier and Ives prints, these picturesque comedies and tender dramas were produced as cinematic Christmas cards offered to moviegoers of the silent era. Included in this collection of archival rarities, most of which were produced at Thomas Edison's studios, are the 1910 version of Dicken's immortal A Christmas Carol, a heartwarming melodrama by D.W. Griffith (A Trap For Santa), as well as the first screen version of Clement Moore's 1822 poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas." The films have been digitally mastered from original 35mm elements and are accompanied by a wistful new score by Al Kryszak-performed on a variety of instruments including harp, violin and Christmas handbells - which beautifully enhances the delicate shadings of each of these rare and fascinating treasures.
Films: A Holiday Pageant At Home (1901) A Winter Straw Ride (1906) A Trap For Santa (1909) A Christmas Accident (1912) The Adventure Of The Wrong Santa Claus (1914) Santa Claus Vs. Cupid (1915) Santa Claus (1925) A Christmas Carol (1910) The Night Before Christmas (1905)
Christmas doesn't come any more old-fashioned than in this inspired collection of vintage holiday films from the silent era. Amidst the melodramas (D.W. Griffith's 1909 "A Trap for Santa Claus") and comedies (the "amateur" detective lark "The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus") are some delicious Christmas treats. The 1925 "Santa Claus" combines magical images of Santa's workshop elves with thrilling documentary footage of icy Alaskan landscapes and herds of wild arctic creatures, and the 1910 "A Christmas Carol" condenses the Dickens classic into 10 minutes by layering all the ghosts and memories into one brief but visually imaginative scene. The delightful "A Winter Straw Ride" (1906) transforms into a snowball free-for-all to celebrate the giddy antics of adults reverting to childhood innocence. Al Kryszak's new, melancholy score for strings and harp is often lovely but out of place amidst the cheer and holiday celebration of the films. --Sean Axmaker
Starring Marc McDermott, Charles Ogle, William Bechtel, Viola Dana, Carey Lee.
Note: These are not period dramas in the way we think of them now, but these silent Christmas themed short films that were originally made by the Edison Company between 1901 and 1925 and the earlier ones were among the first Christmas dramas. Made during the Edwardian, the First World War and Interwar eras.
This Finnish-language period fantasy (dubbed in English) tells the story of the altruistic giver St. Nicholas, the man who became Santa Claus in myth and legend - and whose life, shown here childhood on, radiates with messages of selflessness and friendship.
Many years ago, in Lapland, a boy named Nikolas is orphaned when his family are killed in an accident. The heads of the families in the village meet to decide his future and, as life in the arctic is difficult, it is decided that as no one family could care for him permanently, they would raise him communally, with each family taking him for one year and then moving him on to the next. Grateful, Nikolas begins whittling toys out of wood as a gift which, each Christmas, he leaves for the family that cared for him. It becomes a tradition from then, with Nikolas never forgets the children of those families that received him each year. When a blight hits the village, and none of the families can afford to take him in for the next year, he is taken in by grumpy hermit Iisakki as his carpenter's apprentice. Iisakki works him hard but Nikolas is clever and quick to learn, and Iisakki gradually grows to love Nikolas as his own son. Nikolas begins to live more and more for the spirit of Christmas with each passing year and it becomes his life and as he grows old he becomes the figure known as Santa Claus.
Dove family approved.
Starring Hannu-Pekka Björkman, Otto Gustavsson and Jonas Rinne.
Note: It is unclear what era this is set in, the press kit says "hundreds of years ago" so perhaps in the 1600s or 1700s but maybe earlier; if anyone knows please drop a line - till then, this is listed as Tudor / Stuart era. Filmed in Levi and Utsjoki, Laplan.
A heartwarming family film concerning the exploits of two French nuns who come to America, setting up operations in a local stable, in order to raise money for a children's hospital.
A Christmastime TV perennial, Come to the Stable is the gentle saga of two French nuns (Celeste Holm with accent, Loretta Young without) who come to America in hopes of raising funds for a children's hospital. Travelling to a small New England town presciently named Bethlehem, the nuns befriend eccentric painter Elsa Lanchester, who allows them to use her studio (actually a stable) for their base of operations. Utterly ingenuous when it comes to American mores and customs (they tear up a parking ticket, assuming it to be an advertisement), the sisters raise money in a variety of amusing fashions. One of their "agents" is outwardly tough gambler Thomas Gomez, who gives them the land they need and a cash contribution, to the astonishment of his equally raffish pals (who also kick in). And towards the end, the nuns even play a little professional tennis to raise money. Careful not to overwhelm the viewer with sentiment and religiosity, Come to the Stable (based on a story by Clare Booth Luce) is ideal holiday film fare.
Sweet, pious entertainment of a sort that “they don't make like that anymore.” - Decent Films Guide
Starring Loretta Young, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Elsa Lanchester, Thomas Gomez.
Set in 1844, Return to Cranford is the two-part Christmas special of the costume drama Cranford, a BBC television adaptation of the book by the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell and broadcast by PBS as part of its Masterpiece Theatre series. Part 1 of Return to Cranford begins in August, Part 2 begins in October and closes on a snowy Christmas when the ladies of Cranford celebrate with games, songs, and heart-warming stories.
Change is racing towards the small, close-knit village of Cranford like a steam train — quite literally. As the railroad continues to encroach at the edge of town, Cranford strives to open to new realities, from surprising romances to unexpected losses and even waltzing! Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie) and Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn) are back with other distinguished residents of Cranford, along with one well-outfitted and mischievous cow. When a shocking event seemingly derails Cranford from its innocence, can a bit of magic and faith in enduring friendships save the day? Based on the stories of Victorian-era writer Elizabeth Gaskell, Return to Cranford also features Tom Hiddleston (Wallander) and Tim Curry.
The two-part saga Return to Cranford opens to a struggling Cranford, a traditional English village that in autumn 1844 is airing the conflicts that accompany progress. Miss Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), after having closed her business in the last series, is happily babysitting the child of her maid, Martha (Claudie Blakley). This gives the ladies in town something to gossip about, as does every other small event in this chatty group. The same women populate this new Cranford--the snooty Miss Jamieson (Barbara Flynn), nosy Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Miss Forrester (Julia McKenzie), Peggy (Jodie Whittaker), and Erminia (Michelle Dockery)--while a few new men added into the mix creates options for love intereststhroughout. In Part One, Peggy, visiting her dead father's grave, bumps into William Baxton (Tom Hiddleston), a young and dapper gentleman who becomes a central character in Cranford's growing divide between those who want a railroad coming through town and those who don't. While politics are sorted, scenes alternate between heated public debates and intimate domestic exchanges to make Return to Cranford as charming as the first incarnations of this historical drama. The emphasis on the ways the women in town navigate thorny social situations remains primary in Return to Cranford. Babies are born and the elderly pass away while the ladies busily decide what to make of it all. While Part One focuses on catch-up, showing where each crone stands on the latest current events, Part Twoattempts more to challenge outmoded cultural values such as elitism andto show how the community members toughen up to become a courageous bunch. Unfortunately, Miss Matty discovers that solidarity is hard to come by in this small village, and Part Two is as much about a town falling apart as it is about ways to heal sore feelings and a violated landscape.Ultimately, life marches on in this pleasurably fictionalized glimpse into England's past.
It is very much a holiday pudding...chockablock with Victoriana -- gorse-strewn landscapes, chaste and thwarted love, faded dance cards, death by childbirth, pesky class issues and of course, all those frilly bonnets...the sets are lovely, and the acting so fine that you find yourself wondering if there is any narrative bog that Dench, Staunton and their colleagues cannot illuminate with splendid bits of humor and humanity, even under 5 pounds of lace and ribbon.- L.A. Times
Starring Judi Dench, Francesca Annis, Jonathan Pryce, Imelda Staunton, Tim Curry.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Note: Episode Three of Cranford, set in 1842 also has some Christmas scenes. You may also be interested in the costume drama Victoria & Albert (2001) in which the royal family celebrates Christmas: "While still in her teens, Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) becomes the queen of England after her uncle, King William IV (Peter Ustinov), dies. Breaking free of the overbearing influence of her mother (Penelope Wilton), Queen Victoria gradually comes into her own as a ruler. Falling for her first cousin, Albert (Jonathan Firth), Victoria marries the handsome prince, but he struggles with his lack of authority. Eventually, Albert is given more duties, which only helps Victoria's decades-long reign."
Set within the fictional realms of Charles Dickens' novels, Dickensian brings together some of literature's most iconic characters, including Scrooge, Fagin and Miss Havisham, as their lives intertwine in 19th century London.
Starring Tuppence Middleton, Sophie Rundle, Alexandra Moen, Tom Weston-Jones, Stephen Rea.
Learn more here.
From Walt Disney Pictures comes the magical retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale — Disney’s A Christmas Carol, the high-flying, heartwarming adventure for the whole family, starring Jim Carrey. When three ghosts take penny-pinching Scrooge on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas -- but he must act on it before it’s too late. Complete with spirited bonus features, this exhilarating and touching Disney classic is destined to be part of your holiday tradition, adding sparkle and heart to all your Christmases yet to come.
Fans of Robert Zemeckis's brilliant special effects, and of Jim Carrey's transformative acting abilities, will be swept away by their collaboration in the stunning A Christmas Carol. Perhaps more surprising is that Charles Dickens purists will also be impressed and captivated by this version of the oft-told tale--which is dark, complex, and in its way, uncompromising. Which is all to say that this Christmas Carol is an instant holiday classic, easily taking its place alongside the Alistair Sim version, the Patrick Stewart version, and even the Mr. Magoo version of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his ultimate holiday redemption. Carrey is dazzling as not only Scrooge, the most miserable, and miserly, man in 19th-century England, but as the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. As with The Polar Express, Zemeckis animates the film over the actors' physical performances onscreen, but here, the emotion is intact--even heightened by the brilliant effects. Joining Carrey in the cast are terrific players, including Gary Oldman (Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the ghost of Marley), Cary Elwes, Bob Hoskins, and Robin Wright Penn. But the heart of the film is Carrey, whose dramatic acting has shone in films like The Truman Show and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. The emotional connection Carrey makes with his characters is what brings Dickens's classic alive--and what connects the viewer with the true spirit of the holidays. "God bless us, every one".
Starring Jim Carrey, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Gary Oldman.
Parents need to know that, unlike The Polar Express, this Robert Zemeckis adaptation of a classic holiday tale is too intense both visually and in content for families with very young children. At its heart, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, and not only are the many spirits very creepy at times, but the 3-D technology makes certain scenes -- as when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come's red-eyed black stallions jump out at the audience -- all the scarier. And the realistic nature of the motion capture technology often makes the movie seem more like live action (and thus more intense) than animation. But on the other hand, the language is mild (British slang like "bugger" and "blast") and the drinking limited to Christmas toasts. And the messages are all quite positive, as Ebenezer Scrooge's (Jim Carrey) transformation is one of literature's ultimate stories of redemption and hope, even in the bleakest of times. - Common Sense Media
Jane Austen's Emma is not a Christmas tale, but our heroine Emma Woodhouse spends Christmas Eve at a dinner party and visits her friend/protege Harriet Smith on Christmas day, and this may be considered the most festive adaptation, though Emma (1996) starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma (1996) starring Kate Beckinsale also have Christmas scenes.
Although Jane Austen's Emma has been adapted for the screen many times before, including for an American version starring Gwyneth Paltrow, this four-part miniseries is the version to begin with. The story of Miss Woodhouse, a matchmaker and meddler whose wit and misdirection need to be carefully acted to match the novel's complex character, is perfectly expressed through Romola Garai's portrayal. Throughout the retelling of this comedic romantic drama, Garai not only conveys Emma's strong-willed sensibility but also manages to update Emma for modern audiences without relinquishing the traditional manners and tastes that Austen fans love in her 1815 historical tale. Each episode, here, opens with a seasonal shot of Hartfield, the estate Emma rules while caring for her loyal and kind but protective father (Michael Gambon). Having lost her mother early, Emma feels a bond with two other unfortunate children in Highbury, Frank Churchill (Rupert Evans) and Jane Fairfax (Laura Pyper), whom Emma befriends as they return home from boarding schools abroad.
Romola Garai (“Atonement”) is irresistible as the willful, wrongheaded matchmaker Emma Woodhouse, all but eclipsing her many predecessors in the role. And Michael Gambon (“Harry Potter,” “Cranford”) is just as distinctive as Emma’s fretful, draft-fearing father. The casting of the lead is critical, but some of the most memorable Emmas owe much of their success to secondary characters. Mr. Gambon does not disappoint. - NYT
Starring Romola Garai, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon, Tamsin Greig, Rupert Evans.
Set around Christmastime and winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, the unforgettable classic Going My Way lights up the screen as it warms the heart. Best Actor winner Bing Crosby shines as Father O'Malley, a young priest new to an established but financially flailing parish. When his philosophies conflict with those of curmudgeonly Father Fitzgibbon (Best Supporting Actor winner Barry Fitzgerald), the result is a timeless story of patience, compromise and - just maybe - understanding.
For "Going My Way" is the story—rich, warm and human to the core—of a progressive young Catholic priest who matches his wits and his ideas with those of the elderly pastor of a poor parish—a parish which the young priest is tacitly sent to conduct. It is the story of new versus old customs, of traditional age versus youth. And it is a story of human relations in a simple, sentimental, honest vein. - New York Times
The movie's warmth owed much to the wonderful performance of Barry Fitzgerald (Best Actor in a Supporting Role), as the lovable and respectable elderly Father Fitzgibbon, despite his old school of strict rules and hardships expected of a clergyman. And Bing Crosby (Best Actor), as Father O'Malley, came to rescue the old church with utmost regard of Father Fitzgibbon's delicate feeling. Bing Crosby's portrayal of a sensible, upright Father who enjoyed a close relationship with the younger generation was most impressive. The joyful and buoyant Father O'Dowd (Frank McHugh) provided the optimistic mood often needed to uplift the morale of the other two Fathers. The personal sacrifice made by Fitzgibbon, his longing to see his mother far away, the subplots of a radiant contralto of Metropolitan Opera Association (Rise Stevens) with a gold heart, the father and son money lenders, a naïve run away 18-year old (Jean Heather) all make a wonderful story. In addition, there is much good music performed by Bing Crosby (Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra, Silent Night, Swinging on a star - Best Original Music) and Rise Stevens (Ave Maria, Habanera of Carmen)with the Robert Mitchell Boychoir. There is just a right balance between the good Christmas spirit and delightful Christmas music. It leaves you adoring the kindness and integrity of these good characters while humming the beautful tones. A true Christams Gem not to be missed.- Amazon reviewer
Starring Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Mark McHugh, Jr. Ted Haines, Sr. Ted Haines.
When he loses in love, a song-and-dance man retires from show business to run a country inn. Music by Irving Berlin, songs by Bing Crosby and dancing by Fred Astaire all add up to a really delightful musical that also just happened to launch the hit 'White Christmas'.
Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in the sensational musical comedy Holiday Inn. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards, this special edition features 13 holiday songs by famed composer Irving Berlin, including "White Christmas" - one of the biggest-selling recordings in music history! Crosby plays a song and dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds).'Tis the season for one of the most enjoyable films of all time!
In 1942, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby teamed up at Der Bingle's Paramount Pictures for Holiday Inn, a black-and-white musical that proves more entertaining than Crosby's color semi-remake White Christmas in 1954. Astaire and Crosby play partner/rival song-and-dance men who compete for the hand of their performing partner, played by Virginia Dale. After Crosby loses, he moves to the Connecticut countryside where he creates a resort that is only open on holidays and puts on the shows with the help of Marjorie Reynolds. Dumped by Dale, Astaire makes a drunken arrival at the inn on New Year's Eve and dances with Reynolds. He decides she'll be his new partner, but doesn't remember what she looks like, setting off a frenzied search at every subsequent show while the once-bitten Crosby does his best to steer him off track. The theme gives Irving Berlin an excuse to craft or recycle a number of holiday-themed songs, such as "White Christmas," which became one of the bestselling songs of all time and the title song of Crosby's 1954 film. -David Horiuchi
Loaded with a wealth of songs, it's meaty, not too kaleidoscopic and yet closely knit for a compact 100 minutes of tiptop filmusical entertainment. - Variety
Although all the holiday's are covered, this is really a Christmas movie at heart. The plot is simple and sappy in an old Hollywood kind of way. It's also quite funny in places. What I personally enjoy the most about Holiday Inn is the sheer coziness of it all. The majority of the film takes place in a country Connecticut Inn and often draped in snow. This is a perfectly old fashioned, patriotic holiday film to watch. Turn on the Christmas lights, wrap yourself in a comfy throw and escape to a time long past, when love came with a song and a joke was punctuated by a change in tempo. - Three Movie Buffs
Starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, Walter Abel.
A WWII soldier suffering from combat fatigue meets a young woman on Christmas furlough from prison and their mutual loneliness blossoms into romance.
Mary Marshall, serving a six year term for accidental manslaughter, is given a Christmas furlough from prison to visit her closest relatives, her uncle and his family in a small Midwestern town. On the train she meets Zach Morgan, a troubled army sergeant on leave for the holidays from a military hospital. Although his physical wounds have healed, he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and is subject to panic attacks. The pair are attracted to one another and in the warm atmosphere of the Christmas season friendship blossoms into romance, but Mary is reluctant to tell him of her past.
Several attempts have already been made by Hollywood to image the drama of the veteran returning from the war—and several attempts have already made variable hashes of the job. But now Producer Dore Schary has come along with a simple and straightforward film which handles this most urgent subject in a sane and affecting way. "I'll Be Seeing You" is the picture. This is a pressing recommendation that as many of you see it as can. - New York Times
A surprise from out of nowhere, Joe Cotton is great as a sensitive vet`with PTSD, struggling to cope. Ginger Rogers has her own kind of agony to deal with, just as serious, on home for a Christmastime furlough. They meet, these two terribly damaged people, and somehow manage to strengthen one another, and such are the performances of the leads that you root for them all the way through. I didn't expect anything from this, but boy was I wrong. Don't wait till this accidentally shows up on your doorstep. Instead seek it out, and you'll be rewarded. - Kevin M. Williams
Starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Spring Byington, Tom Tully.
As he does every winter, hobo Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore) moves in to a mansion on New York City's 5th Avenue while its owners are away for the winter and invites all his hobo friends in from the cold. But this Christmas, Mary O'Connor (Ann Harding) comes home unexpectedly after a quarrel with her boyfriend to find her house occupied by jovial street dwellers. To make matters even worse, her father (Charles Ruggles) disguises himself as a hobo to get an invitation to stay in his own home -- and keeps his identity secret in this perennial Christmas favorite about rediscovering family and the joy of being together.
The film received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Story.
It Happened On Fifth Avenue is usually defined as a Christmas movie, in part because of its plot time-line, but more than that, it's a movie that, like George Seaton's Miracle On 34th Street -- made the same year -- sings of the generosity of the human spirit, and the feeling of renewal that was in the air in the immediate post-World War II era, a funny, gentle, warm look at people making their way in a time when, for the first time since the Great Depression and the outbreak of the Second World War, cautious optimism seemed an appropriate approach to life. And not for nothing was this reportedly lead actor Don Defore's personal favorite of all of his movies. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Starring Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, Victor Moore, Gale Storm.
After George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, an angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. George starts to realize how many lives he has changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never there.
This is director Frank Capra's classic bittersweet comedy/drama about George Bailey (James Stewart), the eternally-in-debt guiding force of a bank in the typical American small town of Bedford Falls. As the film opens, it's Christmas Eve, 1946, and George, who has long considered himself a failure, faces financial ruin and arrest and is seriously contemplating suicide. High above Bedford Falls, two celestial voices discuss Bailey's dilemma and decide to send down eternally bumbling angel Clarence Oddbody (Henry Travers), who after 200 years has yet to earn his wings, to help George out. But first, Clarence is given a crash course on George's life, and the multitude of selfless acts he has performed: rescuing his younger brother from drowning, losing the hearing in his left ear in the process; enduring a beating rather than allow a grieving druggist (H.B. Warner) to deliver poison by mistake to an ailing child; foregoing college and a long-planned trip to Europe to keep the Bailey Building and Loan from letting its Depression-era customers down; and, most important, preventing town despot Potter (Lionel Barrymore) from taking over Bedford Mills and reducing its inhabitants to penury.
Along the way, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), who has stuck by him through thick and thin. But even the love of Mary and his children are insufficient when George, faced with an $8000 shortage in his books, becomes a likely candidate for prison thanks to the vengeful Potter. Bitterly, George declares that he wishes that he had never been born, and Clarence, hoping to teach George a lesson, shows him how different life would have been had he in fact never been born. After a nightmarish odyssey through a George Bailey-less Bedford Falls (now a glorified slum called Potterville), wherein none of his friends or family recognize him, George is made to realize how many lives he has touched, and helped, through his existence; and, just as Clarence had planned, George awakens to the fact that, despite all its deprivations, he has truly had a wonderful life. Capra's first production through his newly-formed Liberty Films, It's a Wonderful Life lost money in its original run, when it was percieved as a fairly downbeat view of small-town life. Only after it lapsed into the public domain in 1973 and became a Christmastime TV perennial did it don the mantle of a holiday classic. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
It's a Wonderful Life is a wonderful title for a motion picture about which practically everyone who sees it will agree that it's wonderful entertainment. - Hollywood Reporter
The inspirational, thoroughly festive ending is guaranteed to bring tears to the eyes. - Daily Telegraph
Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers.
Note: The story spans 26 years, from 1919 to Christmas Eve, 1945, covering the eras of the First World War, Interwar, Second World War.
In December 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce on the Western Front allows soldiers from opposing sides of the First World War to gain insight into each other's way of life.
Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee for Best Foreign Film, JOYEUX NOEL (Merry Christmas) tells the true-life story of the spontaneous Christmas Eve truce declared by Scottish, French and German troops in the trenches of World War I. Enemies leave their weapons behind for one night as they band together in brotherhood and forget about the brutalities of war. Diane Krüger (Troy), Daniel Brühl (Good Bye Lenin!) and Benno Fürmann (The Princess and the Warrior) head a first-rate international cast in a truly powerful, must-see film.
Joyeux Noel captures a rare moment of grace from one of the worst wars in the history of mankind, World War I. On Christmas Eve, 1914, as German, French, and Scottish regiments face each other from their respective trenches, a musical call-and-response turns into an impromptu cease-fire, trading chocolates and champagne, playing soccer, and comparing pictures of their wives. But when Christmas ends, the war returns...Joyeux Noel has been justly accused of sentimentality, but if any subject warrants such an earnest and hopeful treatment, it's the horrors of trench warfare. The largely unknown cast--the more familiar faces include Diane Kruger (Troy), Daniel Bruhl (Good Bye Lenin!), Benno Furmann (The Princess and the Warrior), and Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot)--deliver low-key but effective performances as the movie dwells on the everyday elements of life in the face of war. Based on a true incident (though considerably fictionalized). --Bret Fetzer
Unfolding slowly, then building in momentum like the hymns themselves, this entire sequence is tremendously affecting. - Globe and Mail.
In English and French with English subtitles.
Starring Guillaume Canet, Benno Furmann, Daniel Bruhl, Diane Kruger, Gary Lewis.
The first episode of Season Two of Lark Rise to Candleford was a 75 minute Christmas special. When Dorcas and Emma each want to give Laura the same gift for Christmas, an old family wound is opened up and Laura finds herself torn between two mothers. As the inhabitants of Lark Rise and Candleford prepare for the festivities, loyalties are tested and, amid the gift-giving and carol singing, tensions are building. However, the arrival of a ragged, bare-footed young woman, who goes by the name of Cinderella Doe, introduces a note of Christmas mystery. The series is set in 1895 in Victorian era England.
About the BBC series: In this adaptation of Flora Thompson's memoir of her childhood, Laura Timmins leaves the Oxfordshire hamlet of Lark Rise for a job in the market town of Candleford, where her mother's cousin, effervescent Dorcas Lane, is postmistress. Farm workers, craftsmen and gentry make up the community of families, rivals, friends and neighbours. Throughout the series, residents of both places interact at the best and the worst of times, including a measles epidemic that threatens the harvest and the arrival of new Post Office Inspector Mr. Rushton.
The "Christmas Special" episode could become as essential an annual viewing as Dickens' "Christmas Carol." or "The Snowman." It is a complete story in itself and does not have its genesis in earlier episodes and does not carry the story forward in subsequent ones. So watching this episode is satisfying in that it has a beginning, a middle and an end. You can then move on to the continuing story from the events in the first season. - Amazon reviewer
Starring Dawn French, Julia Sawalha, Brendan Coyle, Victoria Hamilton.
Note: The Christmas special is available as part of Season Two.
You may also enjoy Under the Greenwood Tree (2005): "In a small village in the south of England, Dick Dewy, a handsome working man, falls in love with Fancy Day, a newly arrived schoolteacher from a wealthy family who happens to be the village beauty. But other, richer men also want to win the hand of Fancy. There's Farmer Shiner, a wealthy landowner, and Reverend Maybold, the decent young vicar. Who will win Fancy's hand? And even if she agrees to marry Dick, will her father consent to the marriage? This charming, timeless story of rural life gave Thomas Hardy his first real taste of success, and with its rustic setting and moving tale of young love, it weaves a spell that still entrances today." Though not strictly a Christmas movie, Under the Greenwood Tree opens at Christmastime and there are several carols in the period drama including It Came Upon A Midnight Clear and a Remember O Thou Man. The film is set in the Victorian era and was shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Celebrate the holidays with two classic "Llittle House" specials, restored to original broadcast length and remastered for superior picture and sound. In "Christmas at Plum Creek," the members of the Ingalls family share a heartwarming first Christmas in their new home, and Laura makes a personal sacrifice that captures the meaning of the holidays. In "A Christmas They Never Forgot," the family waits out a snowstorm by remembering favorite Christmases from the past. From the woods of Wisconsin and the plains of Kansas to Minnesota, the Ingalls fight to build and hold onto a new home, facing the danger of an untamed wilderness on the American frontier of the 1870's.
Christmas at Plum Creek - In this unforgettable holiday classic, the members of the Ingalls family work to make their very first Christmas at their new home in Plum Creek a memorable one full of joy, tears, and a whole lot of love.
A Christmas They Never Forgot - After a sudden, fierce snowstorm traps all the members of the Ingalls family inside the little house on Christmas Eve, they pass the time by exchanging stories about their favorite Christmases of the past.
Starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, Lindsay Greenbush, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson, Scottie MacGregor, Richard Bull.
In a shabby New York side street in the mid-1880s, young Cedric Errol lives with his mother (known only as Mrs. Errol or "Dearest") in genteel poverty after the death of his father, Captain Cedric Errol. One day, they are visited by an English lawyer named Havisham with a message from Cedric's grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt, an unruly millionaire who despises America and was very disappointed when his youngest son married an American lady. With the deaths of his father's elder brothers, Cedric has now inherited the title Lord Fauntleroy and is the heir to the earldom and a vast estate. Cedric's grandfather wants him to live in England and be educated as an English aristocrat. He offers his son's widow a house and guaranteed income, but he refuses to have anything to do with her, even after she declines his money. The Earl planned to teach his grandson how to be an aristocrat. Instead, Cedric teaches his grandfather that an aristocrat should practice compassion towards those dependent on him. He becomes the man Cedric always innocently believed him to be. Cedric is happily reunited with his mother and Mr. Hobbs, who decides to stay to help look after Cedric. The story ends at Christmastime and is a classic Christmas tale of innocence and good cheer!
A classic in every way! Alec Guinness and an outstanding cast are offset by the incomparable English country side. This is one of the best Christmas movies ever made. Full of the Christmas Spirit. If this movie doesn't warm your heart, it's made of stone! - Amazon reviewer
This movie is the ultimate in feel-good Christmas movies that has become an annual tradition in my family. - Amazon reviewer
Starring Alec Guinness, Ricky Schroder, Eric Porter, Colin Blakely, Connie Booth.
Note: Adapted from Frances Hodgeson Burnett's classic novel, this is a family friendly made for television film with a timeless message.This link is for a Region 2 DVD. There is also a Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) starring Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, C. Aubrey Smith, Guy Kibbee, Henry Stephenson. The Little Lord Fauntleroy (1995), BBC TV mini-series adaptation by Julian Fellowes, starring Michael Benz in the title role and George Baker as the Earl is also available, but the story has been cut significantly for DVD from what originally aired.
Plucked from poverty-stricken 1879 New York, kind and compassionate Cedric Errol (Michael Benz) is summoned by his hard-hearted grandfather (George Baker) to "live among the swells" in England as Lord Fauntleroy, the future Earl of Dorincourt. This engaging feature-length version of the lavish BBC miniseries captures all the heart of Francis Hodgson Burnett's classic story of redemption that has captivated generations of readers. The story concludes at Christmastime. Adapted by Julian Fellowes.
Starring George Baker, Betsy Brantley, Michael Benz, Bernadette Shortt, Christopher Bowen.
Note: When it was aired, this TV mini-series was shown in six parts and ran at around 300 minutes, but the DVD release has been edited to 171 minutes. Despite this being a BBC adaptation by Fellowes, most prefer the 1980 version starring Alec Guinness. The 1995 version is listed here as unfortunately there are not many BBC Christmas costume period dramas.
A man, estranged from his wealthy family, reconciles at Christmas with the help of a homeless little match girl.
Keshia-Knight Pulliam plays Molly, an angel sent to earth as a little match girl: her mission, to save the fragmented Dutton family. The father and his oldest son haven’t spoken since the son didn’t join dad’s business and then married “beneath him” in the person of a loving Irish servant girl. The second son is a hard-drinking wastrel and the girl in the family cares only for her social position. From the Hans Christian Andersen story.
Set in the 1920s.
Starring Keshia Knight Pulliam, William Daniels, John Rhys-Davies, Jim Metzler, William Youmans.
Note: There is also a 1986 version starring Michael Hordern, Twiggy, Roger Daltrey.
Winona Ryder (in an Oscar nominated role) and Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon (1995 Best Actress, Dead Man Walking) star in this "affectionate, superbly acted" (Los Angeles Times) family favorite. With her husband off at war, Marmee (Sarandon) is left alone to raise their four daughters, her Little Women. There is the spirited Jo (Ryder); conservative Meg (Trini Alvarado, Paulie); fragile Beth (Claire Danes, William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet); and romantic Amy (played at different ages by Kristen Dunst, Wag the Dog and Samantha Mathis, Broken Arrow). As the years pass, the sisters share some of the most cherished and painful memories of self-discovery, as Marmee and Aunt March (Mary Wickes, The Man Who Came to Dinner) guide them through issues of independence, romance and virtue. Gabriel Byrne (End of Days), Eric Stoltz (TV's Chicago Hope) and Christian Bale (The Portrait of a Lady) co-star in this "handcrafted valentine" (Newsweek) of a film.
The flaws are easily forgiven in this beautiful version of Louisa May Alcott's novel. A stirring look at life in New England during the Civil War, Little Women is a triumph for all involved. We follow one family as they split into the world, ending up with the most independent, the outspoken Jo (Winona Ryder). This time around, the dramatics and conclusions fall into place a little too well, instead of finding life's little accidents along the way. Everyone now looks a bit too cute and oh, so nice. As the matron, Marmee, Susan Sarandon kicks the film into a modern tone, creating a movie alive with a great feminine sprit. Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire) has another showy role. The young ensemble cast cannot be faulted, with Ryder beginning the movie in a role akin to light comedy and crescendoing to a triumphant end worthy of an Oscar. --Doug Thomas
Parents need to know that in this adaptation of the book by Louisa May Alcott, beloved sister Beth becomes dangerously ill, recovers, but eventually dies young in a very sad sequence. The youngest sister, Amy, falls through the ice while skating but is pulled to safety. Kids will learn a bit about the time period during and just after the Civil War and will get to know an amazing group of role models in the March family. They are supportive of one another and wonderful members of the community, even giving away their Christmas dinner to those less fortunate. - Common Sense Media
Note: There are two older but timeless adaptations of Alcott's story you may want to watch: Little Women (1933) starring Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas, Edna May Oliver, Jean Parker, and Little Women (1949) starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh. There is also a 1970s two-part television presentation of the classic: Little Women (1978) starring Meredith Baxter, Susan Dey, Ann Dusenberry, William Shatner. All are suitable for family viewing.