Oh yes, and the more heartwarming the better! My list of must sees does contain a couple of classics, but not the iconic It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. I love those two movies, but everybody knows about them, right? Here I’m pointing out some less acclaimed but still entertaining and worthwhile Christmas movies.
An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol updated and set in the depression era. It made me think deeply and emotionally about the legacy we leave behind us when we depart from earth. It points out how where we are in life is based on the choice we make during each fertile moment. Our decisions either take us toward love and humanity or in a darker direction. Henry Winkler is amazing, and the scene that sticks in my mind is where he cries from his deepest despair, “I’m willing to make a change.”
A Christmas Wish stars Kristy Swanson as Martha Evans, a destitute mother of three small children. Deserted by her good for nothing husband, she sets off in search of a job, landing in a small snowy town and offered a waitressing gig in a run down cafe by the heart of gold owner, played by the exquisite Tess Harper. I love Tess Harper. The vulnerable and endearing little boy, Miles, is not biologically Martha’s but was born of the good for nothing. K.C. Clyde and Edward Hermann are also engaging in supporting roles, as are the two little girls. Kristy Swanson is nothing short of amazing in this movie. Her wardrobe, including a sturdy woolen coat, is one befitting a woman with no money living in a town full of snowbanks, rather than the usual designer jacket that we are supposed to believe actually keeps a body warm. This is now one of my very favorite Christmas movies. It shows real life and has real heart, plus homemade root beer.
The Christmas List starring Mimi Rogers, Rob Stewart, and Stella Stevens is a fun romantic movie where the girl gets the guy and the ex gets a lap full of ice cream. The main character’s name is Melody Parris, befitting a woman known as “the nose” and able to differentiate among chic perfumes while blindfolded. The little boy whose mother passed away adds a down to earth element. My favorite part is where Melody wishes for, and gets, a pair of fuzzy pink slippers.
The Nine Lives of Christmas on Hallmark stars Brandon Routh and Kimberley Sustad. One thing I really appreciate about the Hallmark Christmas movies is that actors in a supporting role today are likely to be in a starring role in a couple of years. Kimberley Sustad made an elegant sister for Arielle Kebbel in 2012’s A Bride for Christmas. In Nine Lives she comes across as more faceted and human, and fascinating to watch. She does a lot with her facial expressions and huge dark eyes. Brandon Routh who played in Superman Returns has a peppery voice that I find utterly irresistible. The other stars of the movie are two cats, one fluffy and one orange tabby. Marigold twitched her ears at them.
A Very Merry Mix Up on Hallmark starring Alicia Witt and Mark Wiebe startled me with a big surprise about halfway through, and I’m not giving away the spoiler. Suffice to say it’s one of those things where you lament, “Dang, why didn’t I think of that?”
A Christmas Carol from 1951 stars Alastair Sim. Here’s a tip of the hat to a Christmas classic. This movie is perfection all the way around, and Sims is mesmerizing as the definitive Ebenezer Scrooge. My favorite scene is where he goes bananas and dances a jig in his room, frightening the housekeeper out of her wits. How he got his limbs to go so akimbo remains a mystery. My bias is that Alastair Sim bears a strong resemblance to my maternal grandfather.
Bell Book & Candle stars Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart. Witches have Christmas wishes too, and Kim Novak portrays a stunning witch who casts a Christmas love spell with unexpected but delicious consequences.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. I couldn’t leave out the Griswolds if I tried, and I don’t want to try. I enjoy the movie too much. Beverly D’Angelo is overly unsung as far as I’m concerned. I loved her work as a wildcat singer in Daddy’s Dyin’…Whose Got the Will? (I also loved the aforementioned Tess Harper in that.) Her vulnerability and comedic talent shine in Lampoon, and Chevy Chase is both hilarious and makes me want to pat him on the head. And let’s not forget the one of a kind Cousin Eddie, despite Randy Quaid’s resentment of the part.
The Christmas Card stars John Newton as a soldier on leave who falls for a good Samaritan woman who sent him a card in support of our troops overseas. She is played by Alice Evans. Ed Asner and Lois Nettleton almost steal the show as her parents, but the leading man and lady do make an allluring pair. Add all the sparkling snow and jingling sleigh rides and this movie is a heartwarming winner.
There you have a smattering of Christmas movies to brighten the season. So fill your little reindeer goblets with the spiked eggnog, lean close, and whisper me some secrets—what are your favorite Christmas movies?
Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic in Romance