What are Some Classic Christmas Movies?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

For some, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without enjoying the many Christmas Movies that have been made over the years. Most people list It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas as their top three favorite Christmas Movies. These films do indeed inspire the holiday mood, and from White Christmas comes many favorite Christmas songs.

"A Christmas Carol" has been made into several films.
"A Christmas Carol" has been made into several films.

After the top three Christmas movies, lists diverge significantly, and often include not only movies made for the silver screen, but also television holiday classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, The Charlie Brown Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Some see these merely as children’s fare, while others, still being kids at heart, wouldn’t miss a Christmas season without viewing them.

Santa Claus often appears in classic Christmas movies.
Santa Claus often appears in classic Christmas movies.

In the continuing, and ever-growing list of Christmas movies, some cite the Jimmy Durante classic film A Christmas List, made in 1950. Almost everyone lists some version of The Christmas Carol adapted numerous times for films. Some prefer the Alastair Sim version of 1951, while others prefer the George C. Scott version of 1984. A critical minority prefers the teleplay starring Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, which first aired in 1999 on the TNT network. Children may enjoy The Muppet Christmas Carol with a quite good performance by Michael Caine.

Many Christmas movies are geared towards adults as well as juvenile viewers.
Many Christmas movies are geared towards adults as well as juvenile viewers.

The 1980s film The Christmas Story is now considered one of the best Christmas movies. While most of the films above can be watched by audiences of all ages, The Christmas Story while, fairly tame, may frighten young children. However, most enjoy the story immensely, and it has long been considered the funniest Christmas movie.

Some also list Meet Me in St. Louis as a classic Christmas film, since Judy Garland sings the well-known “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” in the film. However, some argue the film cannot technically be called a Christmas movie since it ends in the spring.

As well, the 1934 The March of the Wooden Soldiers featuring the comic talents of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel, is often listed among the best Christmas movies. This film does feature Santa Claus for a brief time, but does not actually follow a Christmas theme. However, many consider it to be a classic film that is family appropriate, and will have one indulging in many a belly laugh.

Some like to add to their classic movie list each year by watching more modern Christmas movies. In recent years, films like Elf, The Santa Clause, and Love Actually make many Christmas movies lists. Others enjoy Home Alone or Jingle all the Way. It should be noted that Love Actually is not appropriate for children, and some may object to the slapstick violence in Home Alone and Jingle.

Unlike those films that are considered as true classic Christmas movies, modern films may need to be screened prior to showing them to children. In fact one of the nicest aspects in viewing the older films is that an entire family can watch them, since they tend to be more innocent and light hearted in nature.

Theaters sometimes have free or discounted showings of classic Christmas movies around the holidays.
Theaters sometimes have free or discounted showings of classic Christmas movies around the holidays.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


My personal favorite Christmas movie is the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol" with Alistair Sim as Scrooge. The George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart versions are very good, and I have no problem with them, but there's something Sim brings to the role that touches my heart. It's also a heavily atmospheric movie, as are the first couple of "staves" of the book. In my opinion, it clings very closely to the Dickens version of Scrooge's counting house, his home, and that dark, sinister staircase.

See this version, and also do yourself a sterling favor and read "A Christmas Carol." Dickens has his reporter hat on for this story, and it's extremely readable. His descriptions of London on Christmas morning are worth the whole book.

"The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young is also a delightful Christmas movie, and I always look for it. "Holiday Affair" with Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh is another good movie. Mitchum's agents were trying to revamp his very bad boy image, and he actually does a nice turn as the romantic lead.


Who doesn’t love watching holiday movies? I know I do and I’m especially interested in the classic movies that take me back to my childhood. Halloween is right around the corner and that’s when the major holiday cheer comes back on the scene. I can’t wait and the good thing is that I can rent movies whenever I want using the Blockbuster Movie Pass with my DISH Network account. It’s also available to new and existing customers and you can even get more channels in your actual DISH Network TV subscription. It’s a lot cheaper than Netflix and Redbox and you can choose from thousands of different titles!


SurfNturf- That happens to me too. I have to say that the most popular Christmas movies for me were Frosty the Snowman and Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.

What I love about the Christmas season is all of the Christmas holiday movies that they play. It really gets you into the season. I have these Christmas movies on DVD, but I still catch them when they are on TV. They bring me back to when I was a kid.


Greenweaver- Oh, I love that movie too. I really like the updated version with Jim Carey.

The old Christmas movies that I love to watch are the TV Christmas movies with Rudolph and the popular Christmas movie about the misfit toys.

I loved those movies as a child and I still watch them with my kids too. I am embarrassed to say that I still cry a little bit when watching some of these movies. I tend to get a little sentimental viewing these Christmas holiday movies.


Olittlewood- I agree. It’s a “Wonderful Life is a true Christmas” classic. I have to say that one of my favorite Christmas movies is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

I have the movie and watch every Christmas with my kids. The story really illustrates the Christmas spirit. I love how the people of Woo-Ville demonstrated that they did not care about the presents.

My favorite line was, when Boris Karlof says “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, perhaps Christmas means a little bit more.”

This movie allows children to understand the meaning of Christmas with an engaging timeless story. Often children really begin to comprehend moral lessons more from engaging movies like this.

No matter how many times I watch this movie, I felt the same about it now as I did when I watched it as a child. I still love it.


my new favorite Christmas movie is Love, Actually, but NOTHING beats It's a Wonderful Life!

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