Top 10 Favorite Classic Christmas Movies

I’m an old soul.  Any night of the week, you can catch me watching TCM.  It’s what I love.  Come Christmastime, of course I love movies like Home Alone and Elf.  But what I really love is the classic Christmas movies.

I compiled a list of my top 10 favorite classic Christmas movies plus a short blurb about each one and why I love them.  The best part about these old classic films is that they’re all family friendly, but will be enjoyed by all ages.

Top 10 Classic Christmas Movie list angela lanter hello gorgeous old hollywood holiday

My Top 10 Favorite Classic Christmas Movies:

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life.  Probably the most classic Christmas film of all.  I’m not sure how, but I saw this movie for the first time in my life just two Christmases ago.  It’s #1 on my list for a reason…  It truly gives you all the Christmas feels.  Jimmy Stewart plays “George Bailey,” a thirty-something husband and father who experiences a bad turn of events when his guardian angel intervenes.
  2. Meet John Doe.  Another great film directed by Frank Capra (he also directed #1).  Barbara Stanwyck is easily Matt’s favorite actress from the Golden Age and in this classic movie, you can easily see why.  This movie has a political storyline, so considering the climate of our current condition in our country, this movies feels very appropriate.  It’s not your typical happy holiday film, but touches the heart and makes you think.
  3. Christmas in Connecticut.  Tis another great classic starring Barbara Stanwyck.  Miss Stanwyck plays “Elizabeth Lane,” a well known Martha Stewart-esque writer who is an expert on homemaking.  There’s only one catch: Elizabeth Lane isn’t a homemaker.  In fact, she’s single with no children and doesn’t cook.  The best part of this little fib?  Her boss has no clue.  So when Elizabeth’s boss invites himself to spend Christmas with her husband and baby in Connecticut, things start to get a little crazy.  This movie is lighthearted, delightful and a must watch every year!
  4. Heidi.  I grew up on Shirley Temple movies.  Heidi was my first experience with the most famous little curly top of all.  I’ve always associated this film with Christmas, yet I’ve never seen it on any of the classic Christmas movie lists or on tv during Christmastime, which is a shame in my opinion.  It’s just a feel good movie that the whole family can enjoy.
  5. The Bishop’s Wife.  I never saw this classic until last year.  I’m guessing that’s because I grew up with the Whitney Houston remake, “The Preacher’s Wife.”  I have a special love for Cary Grant and he’s so young and so suave as the angel, “Dudley” in the this film.  You find yourself rooting for the impossible love connection.  Another lighthearted classic that shouldn’t be missed.
  6. Little Women.  This classic was based on an autobiographical book written by Louisa May Alcott.  It’s such a wonderful story that the book has been turned into a movie three different times.  I recently read an article that there are plans in work to create this movie for a fourth time in 2017.  The first movie was in 1933, starring Katherine Hepburn.  The second was in 1949, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh and June Allyson.  The third remake was in 1994 and I have seen this version too many times to count.  The 1994 remake stars Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Wynona Ryder and Christian Bale.  Not necessarily your happy-go-lucky Christmas tale, but fabulous none the less.
  7. Meet Me in St. Louis.  Any chance to watch Miss Judy Garland, I’m in.  This movie just makes me happy.  It’s another autobiographical account, but sweeter.  When Judy Garland sings, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” it’s almost impossible to keep a dry eye.
  8. It Happened on 5th Avenue.  This one I’ve only seen once, but I remember really enjoying it.  I especially love the leopard coat (you’ll know it when you see it) #girltalk.  In a nutshell, a hobo moves into a mansion on 5th Avenue and craziness ensues.  It’s cute, it’s funny and I think you’ll enjoy it.
  9. White Christmas.  This one almost didn’t make my  top 10, only because I’ve seen it too many times.  But then I remember how much I love Bing and the “Count Your Blessings” song, so it had to make the list.  White Christmas is available to stream on Netflix this year!
  10. The Shop Around the Corner.  This movie was originally made starring Jimmy Stewart in 1940 but was remade just 9 short years later starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson.  The remake was titled “In the Good Old Summertime.”  I prefer the Jimmy Stewart version, but I so love the Garland/Johnson combo in the remake.

Honorable Mentions:

I’ll Be Seeing You:  This is not a popular film, which is surprising with an all-star cast including: Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotton and Shirley Temple.  Mawmaw often said this was her favorite movie, which is also surprising because it’s not your typical feel good Christmas film.  It’s based on a soldier dealing with PTSD after WWII and a female inmate.  It’s one of the last movies Shirley Temple did in her acting career.  The story is interesting, heartfelt and the acting is top-notch.  Matt & I both really enjoyed this movie.

Holiday Affair:  Janet Leigh (Jamie Leigh Curtis’s mother) and Robert Mitchum star in this holiday love story from 1949.  The storyline is just sweet.  It’s a fun Christmas watch.

Miracle on 34th Street:  This one has never been one of my favorites, and here’s why: I couldn’t stand the remake.  The original starring Natalie Wood is leaps and bounds better than the 1994 reboot.  I have a hard time watching the original film and not seeing the 1994 version due to the amount of times I’ve seen the newer movie, as a kid.

Remember the Night:  Another Barbara Stanwyck holiday piece that’s great.  She can honestly do no wrong in the Lanter house.  A Christmas love story with a courthouse twist that everyone should see.

Stella Dallas:  Let’s go ahead and crown Barbara Stanwyck the queen of Christmas.  I personally feel that Miss Stanwyck gives the best performance in her career in this movie.  It’s not a Christmas movie from beginning to end, but there is a very memorable Christmas scene in it that makes me feel it deserves to make this list.

Susan Slept Here:  I enjoyed this one, but Matt fell asleep, lol.  It’s weird HOW much older the man is than Debbie Reynolds, but if you can get past that, it’s a fun one.  I’m glad I watched it, but probably won’t feel the need to see it a second time.

The Man Who Came to Dinner:  Bette Davis is one of my favorite actresses of all time.  This is the first Christmas movie I saw with her starring in it.  It’s a fun one and takes place in Ohio, which I love.

My Reputation:  Another Barbara Stanwyck film that I love.  Not your typical feel good Christmas movie, but it’s been added to my yearly repertoire.  Barbara is so fantastic in this film.

Winter Meeting:  Again, not a feel good movie.  Starring Bette Davis as a wealthy, lonely poet.  I really enjoyed this one.

Beyond Christmas:  This one is from 1940 and not starring anyone that you would probably know by name.  I’m glad I saw it, but again, not one that I feel the need to watch again any time soon.  Matt did not like this one. 

Pocketful of Miracles:  Bette Davis SHINES in this lesser known film from the 60’s.  I found myself smiling throughout the entire movie and can’t recommend it enough.

 


 

I originally wrote this post December 5, 2016.

Now that you know my favorites, leave a comment below with your Christmas movie favorites, new and old!

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48 Comments

  1. December 5, 2016 / 7:07 PM

    I’ve been wanting some classic movies to watch that I’ve never seen and I have not seen a few of these. My favorite classic Christmas movie is definitely White Christmas. I could watch it over and over. I even did a White Christmas inspired craft this year for my mantle decor!

    My favorite non-classic but classic for my family is Surviving Christmas. It’s not a well known movie but in my family we love it and crack up every time we watch it!

    Emily
    lovepastatoolbelt.com

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:40 PM

      I bet your White Christmas DIY is adorable, Emily! I’ve never heard of Surviving Christmas!

  2. Katrina Groves
    December 5, 2016 / 7:29 PM

    I love classic movies too and while I have some of these on DVD I haven’t taken the time to watch a few of them. Thanks for the recommendations. I loved Shop Around the Corner when I saw it, Jimmy Stewart was such a great actor. If you all are Barbara Stanwyck fans have you seen Ball of Fire? It stars Gary Cooper as well and is one of my favorites.
    My Christmas must watch classic movies are It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. I can probably recite all of White Christmas at this point in life. Lol
    Non classic Christmas favorite for me is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I know it’s a kids movie but I love it; so many wonderful memories of watching it with my pastor’s kids while babysitting when they were little.

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:46 PM

      I have to look up Ball of Fire! Barbara Stanwyck was such an incredible actress. I’d love to see all of her movies eventually! I love Muppet Christmas Carol too!!

  3. Leighann Rondilone
    December 5, 2016 / 7:59 PM

    I’ve gotta go with white Christmas and its a wonderful life. I would also add to that a Christmas Story!!

  4. Laura A.
    December 5, 2016 / 8:13 PM

    I haven’t seen It Happened on 5th Ave. or I’ll be seeing You but have been meaning to. Love all of the other movies!!! Have you seen Bachelor Mother (1939)? It’s really more of a New Years film but it’s really good. I love Charles Coburn.

    Also, a not-your-typical Christmas movie but We’re No Angels (1955) starring Bogart is a funny Christmas film.

    As you can tell I love classic films. I have a whole blog devoted to them!!

    P.S. Tell Matt I watched Men of Courage last night. He was great!!! I also read the book it was based on and just started “Ordeal By Sea” which actually mentions his grandfather. What a powerful story!!

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:47 PM

      I haven’t seen Bachelor Mother! I thought I DVR’ed it this year, but somehow missed it. 🙁

      I love me some Bogie!! Love that you loved USS Indy!

  5. December 6, 2016 / 4:35 AM

    Good movies !

    I like to watch Harry Potter movies on christmas 🙂

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:48 PM

      We love Potter between Halloween and Christmas too!

  6. Anonymous
    December 6, 2016 / 8:33 AM

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve celebrated Christmas in CT for the last four years, but I’ve actually never seen the movie. That will change this year!

    Alec
    IG: alexandra.brant

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:48 PM

      Oh I hope you had a chance to see it, Alexandra!!

  7. December 6, 2016 / 10:33 AM

    I’ve never watched It’s a Wonderful Life. However, I do thoroughly enjoy Home Alone. I could watch it every day!
    -Kate
    katekoutures.blogspot.com

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:49 PM

      I hope you got to experience It’s a Wonderful Life this season! It’s so fabulous!

  8. Jennifer
    December 6, 2016 / 11:12 AM

    I love so many of the films you mentioned. My favourite is White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. I love a good musical and who can resist Bing Crosby crooning to the famous song? It’s a Wonderful Life anyway makes me cry because the story is so touching and the fact that he can be shown that his life matters is so special and important. I love In the Good Old Summertime and Meet Me in St. Louis as well. Isn’t Barbara Stanwyck amazing? I think my favorite of her Christmas movies is Remember the Night.

    My favorite non-classoc Christmas movies to watch are Home Alone 1 and 2 and The Santa Clause.

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:49 PM

      Bing is the king of Christmas carols in our house! I loved Remember the Night!

  9. Erin
    December 6, 2016 / 7:09 PM

    Love White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Watching diff hallmark Christmas movies too. Home Alone 2 is on tv right now. I just finished new ep of Fixer Upper. Just love that show!

  10. Mary
    December 7, 2016 / 9:50 AM

    I am the same way. I love watching TCM and enjoy older movies. My favorite Christmas movies, are “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Shop Around the Corner”, and “Remember the Night”. I will be watching the few I haven’t seen off your list this Christmas-to help me get in the holiday spirit even more. 🙂 Another thing I like to do during Christmas is watch Hallmark channel. They show a lot of Christmas movies and I basically will just play anything Christmas when I have the TV on during the month of December! Merry Chrismtmas to you guys!

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:50 PM

      I love the Hallmark Channel during Christmas too, Mary!

  11. Anonymous
    December 7, 2016 / 6:26 PM

    Having said you drink coffee every morning, how do you keep your teeth so white? I whiten my teeth at home with a kit yet still have a problem with stains lol

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:51 PM

      I use a whitening toothpaste every day and activated charcoal when my teeth need a boost!

  12. Elizabeth
    December 7, 2016 / 10:17 PM

    Hey my comment is WAY late but did you know that “You’ve Got Mail” is a remake of the original “Shop Around the Corner”? I love old films, the way they speak, dress, and the fact they’re MOSTLY family friendly. Thanks for the recommendations 😉

    • January 5, 2017 / 3:51 PM

      I did know that and I love it! I watched Sleepless in Seattle this Christmas, such a great film!

  13. Tara
    December 19, 2016 / 10:07 AM

    I am also a TCM nut. I have not seen a few of these films. But judging from the fact that I love the rest of the films listed, I am going to trust your taste and try my best to watch them all!

  14. Jen
    December 24, 2016 / 7:11 AM

    New to your blog and I have to say I love it! You’re a doll and you and Matt seem so sweet together! Because of this post I turned TCM on today and about half of these movies are coming up today and Tomorrow so I’m recording them all! I doubt I’ll get to watch them all before Christmas but I’ll try!

  15. Ashley
    December 17, 2020 / 10:24 AM

    Love this! I watch White Christmas every year when I wrap presents. This weekend my family and I will be watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I live Heidi, the version with Shirley Temple. We’ve been watching a ton of cartoon Christmas movies. I also heard Klaus on Netflix, is a really cute movie. And if you haven’t yet, check out Christmas Chronicles 1&2 on Netflix. Kurt Russell makes such a great Santa, the movies makes me cry

    • Angela Lanter
      December 17, 2020 / 10:51 AM

      It doesn’t get any better than Kurt Russell, that’s for sure!!

  16. Maxanne Clark
    December 17, 2020 / 11:09 AM

    I love the original Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart. One of my favorites!! And I love the nod they gave to the film in the “remake” You’ve Got Mail. It was the name of Meg Ryan’s bookshop.

    • December 17, 2020 / 11:13 AM

      Did you know that movie has been made three times now?!

  17. Lori
    December 17, 2020 / 12:19 PM

    I have seen all the ones you mentioned and loved them. My dad is not a fan of Barbara Stanwyck, but my mom was so he would watch all her movies. Love a good Cary Grant or Doris Day movie. The Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2 I have added to my list with Kurt Russel and Goldie. Jingle all the Way makes me laugh with Arnold Schwarzenegger about a father who tries to get a gift for his son that has been sold out.

    • Angela Lanter
      December 18, 2020 / 8:43 AM

      I need to rewatch Jingle All The Way!

  18. Erin Core
    December 17, 2020 / 5:50 PM

    Love White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life! This yr I have watched The Christmas Chronicles 1 and 2! I love a good classic film too! I grew up watching them with my parents!

    • Angela Lanter
      December 18, 2020 / 8:42 AM

      It doesn’t get any better than Kurt Russell!

  19. Mallary
    December 17, 2020 / 5:54 PM

    I don’t think I I have even heard of most of those! I tend to venture to hallmark movies, Elf, the Grinch ( the original) and the Santa Claus.

    • Angela Lanter
      December 18, 2020 / 8:42 AM

      You need to watch them!

  20. Susan
    December 18, 2020 / 10:24 AM

    Oh my goodness! Have you seen Holiday Inn? It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. It was the movie that introduced the song White Christmas. It’s my very favorite!

    • December 18, 2020 / 10:40 AM

      I have! It’s not my favorite, I prefer White Christmas 🙂

  21. Jean
    December 19, 2020 / 9:50 PM

    I agree with most of your “favorites” and “honorable mention” lists. The Bishop’s Wife, the original Miracle on 34th St., the Man who Came to Dinner(probably one of my top favorites), and White Christmas are among my favorites. If you haven’t seen them already you must check out Holiday Inn, The Lemon Drop Kid(which introduced the song “Silver Bells”, Holiday(with Katherine Hepburn & Cary Grant).
    A great post war movie that my daughter also likes is The Best Years of Our Lives.

    • Angela Lanter
      December 20, 2020 / 4:33 PM

      I’ve seen most of those but I need to add a few to my list! Thanks!

  22. Laurie Pinnell
    December 20, 2020 / 6:24 AM

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Holiday Inn and a Christmas Carol ( so many versions to choose from) in your list.

    • Angela Lanter
      December 20, 2020 / 4:32 PM

      I love those too! I could make a mile-long list!

  23. Lauren
    December 21, 2020 / 3:08 AM

    Can’t go plus “It’s A Wonderful Life” beautiful movie!
    I have many favourites – I just watched the Timeless movie again which I loved! and just finished Home Alone today cause they are my must movies Home Alone 2 tomorrow again! Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, Jingle all the Way, Love Actually, The Holiday not to mention I’ve also been started the Gilmore Girls Christmas episodes I’ve done S1 and S2 episodes already and loving the re watch…t name a few lol

    • Angela Lanter
      December 21, 2020 / 6:47 AM

      I love ALL of those!!

  24. Jane Ivey
    December 26, 2020 / 4:23 AM

    My husband and I watched a movie Christmas Eve about a hobo who finds a way into a 5th ave mansion and spends the winter season there. He eventually brings in some veterans who also stay over Christmas. The real owner shows up but doesn’t tell them who he is and he befriends them in the end. Its a real sweet old movie and my husband thought Betty Davis was in it as a young lady who is the owners’ daughter.

    • Angela Lanter
      December 28, 2020 / 5:06 AM

      Awwww! I’ll have to look that one up!

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