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Christmas Movies- Favorite Christmas Classics

Updated on October 26, 2014

These are my favorite Christmas movie classics. These great movies open a window into the past. Four of these movies were released between 1942 and 1954. The other four were released between 1971 and 1987, but all except one tell stories of by-gone times. These classic Christmas movies make great gift ideas. Better yet, gift yourself with one of these great Christmas classics this Christmas, and enjoy it every year as part of your holiday tradition. See also my favorite Christmas cartoon and animated classics.

Movies reviewed in this hub:

White Christmas

It’s a Wonderful Life

The Gathering

The Homecoming- A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Miracle on 34th Street

Wassailfest in New Braunfels during Christmas Season
Wassailfest in New Braunfels during Christmas Season | Source

We'll Follow the Old Man

White Christmas Movie Trailer

White Christmas

Growing up, we were very close to our neighbors. When the neighbor’s oldest, Dwain, and I were in our teens, our parents would go out together on Christmas Eve. This movie became a Christmas Eve tradition for us kids.

Initial Release: 1954.

Amazon Rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, from 246 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 7.2 of 10 from 6552 votes.

Director: Michael Curtiz

Run Time: 120 minutes.


Bing Crosby-- Bob Wallace

Danny Kaye-- Phil Davis

Rosemary Clooney-- Betty Haynes

Vera Ellen-- Judy Haynes

Dean Jagger-- Major General Thomas F. Waverly

Mary Wickes-- Emma Allen

John Brascia-- John

Anne Whitfield-- Susan Waverly


This is the second of two movies featuring the Irving Berlin classic song, “White Christmas” (the other is Holiday Inn). The movie showcases the relationships between two singer-performer sisters, two war buddies, also performers, and their developing relationships with each other. The quartet wind up on a train together bound for Vermont, expecting snow. They end up at a ski lodge with no snow, and the buddies are stunned that the proprietor is their war theater commander, now retired General Waverly. The group prepares for a Christmas show, and Bob and Phil hatch a secret plan to bring in the troops from all over the US to surprise “the Old Man”. Comic, serious, romantic and sentimental antics punctuate the film. This movie has great song and dance performances including “Sisters”, “Snow”, “We’ll Follow the Old Man”, “Mandy”, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”, and of course “White Christmas”.

It's a Wonderful Life Jimmy Stewart

It's a Wonderful Life

This classic inarguably ranks as one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time. Apparently however it disappeared for years due to copyright controversy. Thankfully it re-emerged in the late 70s as an often repeated holiday telecast.

Initial Release: 1946.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 of 5 stars from 535 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.7 of 10, from 92,019 votes.

Director: Frank Capra.

Run Time: 130 minutes.


James Stewart -- George Bailey

Donna Reed-- Mary Hatch

Lionel Barrymore-- Mr. Potter

Thomas Mitchell-- Uncle Billy

Henry Travers-- Clarence

Beulah Bondi-- Mrs. Bailey

Frank Faylen-- Ernie

Ward Bond-- Bert

Gloria Grahame-- Violet

H.B. Warner-- Mr. Gower

Frank Albertson-- Sam Wainwright

Todd Karns-- Harry Bailey

Samuel S. Hinds-- Pa Bailey

Mary Treen-- Cousin Tilly

Virginia Patton-- Ruth Dakin


Jimmy Stewart delivers his trademark good guy persona at its best in this Capra classic. As George Bailey, he sets aside his worldly aspirations to remain a hometown family man, trying to keep the family savings and loan afloat. Lionel Barrymore is the villain, a rich banker determined to run Bedford Falls. Due to a financial mishap, the small savings and loan is in danger of folding, which means personal ruin for George, and hard times for many good working-class people. Distraught on Christmas Eve, George is contemplating suicide when he is visited by Clarence, his guardian angel. Clarence revisits George’s life in a series of flashbacks, then visits an altered future where George had never been born.

The Gathering Ed Asner

The Gathering

This made for TV Christmas movie may seem like the strange bedfellow in the bunch. And it is a little difficult to come by, though I have a VHS copy. I stand by my recommendation of this film, but have a confession. During the late 70s, I had a crush on Ed Asner. Not the Mary Tyler Moore Show quirky Lou Grant, but the serious newsman Lou Grant with his own show starting in 1977. Strange I know. He was not a likely candidate for People’s Sexiest Man Alive, but he would have been my top pick for a lunch date.

Initial Release: 1977.

Amazon Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars, from 26 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.0 of 10, from 255 votes.

Director: Randal Kleiser.

Run Time: 90 minutes.


Edward Asner-- Adam Thornton

Maureen Stapleton-- Kate Thornton

Veronica Hamel-- Helen Thornton

Gregory Harrison-- Bud Thornton

Lawrence Pressman-- Tom Thornton

Gail Strickland-- Peggy Thornton

Stephanie Zimbalist-- Toni Thornton


Adam Thornton, played by Ed Asner, is alienated from his children, due to having left their mother Kate, played by Maureen Stapleton. Years have passed and Adam now reaches out to Kate to bring their grown children together at the family home for a traditional Christmas. The catch is, she must not tell them that he is dying. The tense situation suggests that not all of the grown children will leave their busy lives and come home for this dubious gathering. The kids have a cacophony of feelings about their mother’s calm acceptance of their father imposing himself back into their lives. But one at a time, the kids with their own families in tow, return to the nest, including the last arrival, youngest son Bud, a draft dodger living in Canada with a wife and new baby. Though it may seem like a gloomy movie due to Adam’s terminal diagnosis, his illness is never fully revealed, and is more of a supporting player in the drama. Great movie, I promise.

The Homecoming Walton Christmas

The Homecoming- A Christmas Story

Who from the 70s did not watch The Waltons? This is the pilot to the series. The Waltons stories are based on the auto-biographical writings of Earl Hamner, as was the 1963 movie Spencer’s Mountain. In this movie, Mama Walton, Olivia is played by Patricia Neal, not Michael Learned. Likewise, most of the key adult characters were played by different actors than the series. The cast for the Walton children however, headed by Richard Thomas as John-Boy, remains largely intact.

Initial Release: 1971.

Amazon Rating: 4.6 of 5 stars, from 120 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.5 of 10 from 431 votes.

Director: Fielder Cook.

Run TIme: 100 minutes.


Patricia Neal-- Olivia Walton

Richard Thomas-- John-Boy Walton

Edgar Bergen-- Grandpa Zebb Walton

Ellen Corby-- Grandma Walton

Andrew Dugan-- John Walton

Judy Norton-Taylor-- Mary Ellen Walton

Mary Beth McDonough-- Erin Walton

Kami Cotler-- Elizabeth Walton

Eric Scott-- Ben Walton

David W Harper-- Jim-Bob Walton

Woodrow Parfrey-- Ike Godsey

Cleavon Little-- Hawthorne Dooley


The large multi-generational Walton family lives a tough rural existence on Walton Mountain in Virginia during the Depression. The setting is incongruent to eldest son John-Boy’s aspirations to become a writer, which worries him. The grim circumstances force the father to seek work in the city. When he fails to return home on Christmas Eve, Olivia sends John-Boy in search of his father, while she maintains a calm façade for the children.

A Christmas Story Tongue vs Flagpole

A Christmas Story Red Rider BB Gun

A Christmas Story

Some consider this film to be a cult classic, and is one of my brother’s favorites. In recent years, it has been shown continuously on TNT, beginning in the evening on Christmas Eve and concluding 24 hours later on Christmas night.

Initial Release: 1983.

Amazon Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars from 544 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.0 of 10 from 49,155 votes.

Director: Bob Clark.

Run Time: 94 minutes.


Melinda Dillon-- Mrs. Parker

Darren McGavin-- Mr. Parker

Peter Billingsley-- Ralphie Parker

Ian Petrella-- Randy Parker

Scott Schwartz-- Flick

RD Robb-- Schwartz

Tedde Moore-- Miss Shields

Yano Anaya-- Grover Dill

Zack Ward-- Scut Farkus

Jeff Gillen-- Santa Claus

Patty Johnson-- Head Elf


Set in the 40s, this classic movie stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, whose fervent desire is to get a Red Rider BB rifle for Christmas. No one seems to share his enthusiasm, as one after another adults, including Santa, tell him “You’ll shoot your eye out.” There are many amusing family moments in this film, including Ralphie’s appearance in his bunny pajamas, a present from his aunt, and the family’s ruined turkey dinner. There are also great scenes involving Ralphie’s bully and quirky friends. In one jewel of a scene, a boy is goaded into sticking his tongue to a frozen light pole.

A Child's Christmas in Wales- Stage Production

A Child's Christmas In Wales

This movie is an enactment of the 1955 Dylan Thomas poem, which was first written for radio. I was first exposed to the poem in my 12th grade English Literature class. What stuck in my mind about the poem was the unexpected endings to passages, such as this: "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." The video clip is not of the movie, but of a production held in Charleston S.C., and tells a little bit about the history and significance of the piece.

Initial Release: 1987.

Amazon Rating: 4.9 of 5 stars from 64 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 7.1 of 10 from 172 votes.

Director: Don McBrearty.

Run Time: 55 minutes.


Denholm Elliott -- Old Geraint

Mathonwy Reeves-- Thomas

Glynis Davies-- Mrs. Wales


Denholm Elliott narrates this tale, as a grandfather relating stories of his Welsh childhood to his grandson. The stories are amusing recollections of the seemingly mundane. There is unending snow, a fire in a neighbors’ parlor, uncles with cigars, aunts with rum-laced tea, and ridiculous gifts.

Miracle on 34th Street 1947

Miracle on 34th Street

This classic film is available in the original black and white, and in a beautiful colorized version. The cast is great, including young Natalie Wood as Susan, and Maureen O’Hara, the original Parent Trap mom, as single mother Doris Walker.

Initial Release: 1947.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 of 5 stars from 169 customers.

The Internet Movie Database Rating: 8.0 of 10 from 11,876 votes.

Director: George Seaton.

Run Time: 96 minutes.


Maureen O’Hara-- Doris Walker

John Payne-- Fred Gailey

Edmund Gwenn-- Kris Kringle

Gene Lockhart -- Judge Henry X Harper

Natalie Wood-- Susan Walker

Porter Hall-- Granville Sawyer

William Frawley-- Charlie Halloran

Jerome Cowan -- Dist Atty Thomas Mara

Phillip Tonge-- Julian Shellhammer


Doris Walker, special events planner for Macy’s, must quickly find another Santa when the current Santa is found drunk. Oddly enough, the new Santa’s stated name is Kris Kringle, and he claims to be the real Santa. Cynical Doris is uneasy, but daughter Susan and others begin to see special qualities, that are in keeping with the true meaning of Christmas. A villainous Macy’s psychologist sets in motion events that culminate in a courtroom competency hearing for Mr. Kringle.

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment.

Submit a Comment

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks TattoGuy. And goodnight John-Boy!

  • profile image

    TattoGuy 8 years ago

    Gotta say I really love The Homecoming, tis a nice lil movie, good picks and a nice christmasy hub. Enjoy yer weekend my friend !

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    I'm with you K. White Christmas is my pick of the bunch.

  • K Partin profile image

    K Partin 8 years ago from Garden City, Michigan

    Great hub and great choices. I have to go with White Christmas a real classic. Thanks for sharing. K.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    You’re funny Dragn. Could you use some sticky backed foam from the craft store and cut out eyes and nose for your mouse? Use some braided yarn for the tail?

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    habee there was a recent forum thread on something like ‘how do you support your fans’. The OP suggested clicking on AS ads, and everyone shot that down as basically fraudulent. Some noted they occasionally clicked on another hubber’s ad if it was something they were really interested in. I would think the same would hold for Amazon. I’ve seen other hubbers occasionally state they usually go in through a hubber’s hub when they have things they want to order from Amazon.

  • rmcrayne profile image

    rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

    Thanks ethel, Wendi, elisabeth, habee and Dragnskull for sharing a love of classic Christmas movies!

  • Dragnskull profile image

    Dragnskull 8 years ago

    you cant miss A christmas story. Its just not the holidays without it >.< i grew up on that movie every year lol.

    i love the holidays, i love seeing the holiday movies and all the decorating, my gf things im just a big 6 year old lol.

    right now im even hunting around to dress my computer up for the holidays, looking for a mouse cursor, desktop picture, and screensaver (Sadly i've only found a screen saver so far though D:)

    incase anyone wants it you can get it here: (its a free fast download so I figured ppl would want it :P)

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

    Great choices, Rose Mary! I haven't seen A Child's Christmas in Wales, but I've read the story many times - I used to teach it.

    I would like to order The Homecoming from your hub. Is that allowed?

  • elisabethkcmo profile image

    elisabethkcmo 8 years ago from Just East of Oz

    My favorites have got to be A Christmas Story and Its a Wonderful like, but I forgot about The Homecoming, I grew up watching the Waltons and it's a wonderful movie.

    Thanks for the great collection of Christmas films, Rosemary

  • Wendi M profile image

    Wendi M 8 years ago from New Hampshire

    I like this hub RM. Who doesn't like Christmas movies?

  • ethel smith profile image

    Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    Love Christmas films


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