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My favorite Christmas movies

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” was the inspiration for window decorations this year at The Pocahontas Times office. S. Stewart photo

Laura Dean Bennett
Staff Writer

What could be more fun than settling in on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a Christmas movie?

Now’s the time to rent or buy a few movies to have on hand for the holidays.

Here’s a list of my favorites:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

If you’ve seen the window at The Pocahontas Times this Christmas season, you’ll know that everyone here loves this movie. We decorated the windows in A Charlie Brown Christmas  theme – with items from the collection of our very own Jaclyn Hollandsworth.

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang give us a lesson in the real meaning of Christmas in this animated 1965 classic. 

And it isn’t just a must-see Christmas movie, its also a must-have jazz piano soundtrack. Rated G

The Muppet Christmas Carol

You don’t have to be a child to enjoy this 1992 Jim Henson extravaganza.

There are lots of “inside” jokes sprinkled throughout to keep adults entertained while the youngsters giggle.

It’s a darling musical set in the Victorian era, and features a brilliant performance by Michael Caine as Scrooge. Rated G 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

This beautiful 2005 fantasy epic made from the classic C. S. Lewis novel is as perfect as a children’s film gets – meaning its charm works for adults, as well.

Siblings magically enter a snowy kingdom through their closet.

They encounter Father Christmas, a villainous White Queen, a noble lion and a host of fantastic creatures, and they learn some important life lessons.

Tears will fall!

It may be a little over the heads of and too serious for very young children. Rated PG

A Christmas Story

This instant 1983 classic is a nostalgic and hilarious look back at the 1940s, through the eyes of nine year old Ralphie, who wants an official Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas – and to be taken seriously, more than anything in the world. 

If you’re my age, you’ll laugh at the memories.

But very young kids may not get all the jokes. Rated PG

A Christmas Carol 

This old 1938 black and white MGM film is my favorite version of this Charles Dickens tale.

I think I like it so much because when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, it was shown so regularly on television that even I (of a fairly TV deprived childhood) got a chance to see it every year. Not Rated

Holiday Inn 

This gorgeous 1942 musical ranks right up there with It’s a Wonderful Life as my two favorite Christmas movies of all time.

Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby sing and dance their way through a story right out of old Broadway. It’s about a musical troupe that only performs on holidays – President’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

The film scored a Best Song Oscar for one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written, “White Christmas” – and Bing Crosby sings it. Ah, perfection. Not Rated

It’s a Wonderful Life 

This poignant 1946 classic stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man with big ambitions, but a bigger heart, who puts off his dream of leaving small-town Bedford Falls, to save his family’s business. 

One Christmas Eve, when George’s life seems worthless, an angel is sent to teach him how meaningful his personal sacrifices have really been.

And we even get to learn how angels get their wings. Rated PG

Christmas in Connecticut 

This 1945 romantic comedy tells the story of Elizabeth (Barbara Stanwyck), who is famous for her magazine column about her idyllic family life and her gourmet cooking at her country home in Connecticut. 

Never mind the fact that she’s single, lives in a New York apartment and can’t boil an egg. 

When her boss insists that she host a Christmas weekend at “her” country estate as a PR ploy, Elizabeth has to get creative – and fast.

This movie has everything a chic Christmas weekend in the country should, and a romantic sleigh ride to boot. Rated G 

White Christmas 

This gorgeous 1954 musical is full of song, dance and witty quips sure to transport you back in time to a bygone era. 

Singers, played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, join a sister act – Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen – to perform a Christmas show at a country inn in rural Vermont. 

Oh, it’s just beautiful! Rated G

Miracle on 34th Street 

This 1947 film opens as Macy’s hires a mysterious and gentle Kris Kringle to play the part of its department store St. Nick. 

Kris insists he’s the genuine article, people think he’s mentally ill and he ends up in Bellevue! 

Will he be able to convince a little girl who’s almost lost her belief in the spirit of Christmas that he’s real?

Will he be freed and his reputation restored? 

Let’s just say it’s a magical ending. Rated G

Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love

This Dolly Parton movie from 2016 was nominated for an Emmy.

This biographical Yuletide adventure, it is a sequel to another great Parton film- Coat of Many Colors. 

Set in the Smoky Mountains in 1955, the story shows us that guardian angels aren’t always divine – and that miracles come in all sizes and can even be as small as a shiny pair of red shoes. Rated G

Three Godfathers

This 1948 John Ford western retells the story of the there wise men, and stars John Wayne.

Three kindhearted outlaws must deliver an infant to the frontier town of New Jerusalem on Christmas Day. Not rated, but suitable for the whole family

The Christmas Card 

Ed Asner gives a great performance in this 2006 Hallmark movie that tells the tale of a soldier who comes back from Afghanistan at Christmas to visit a town in Nevada.

A church congregation in the town had sent Christmas cards to soldiers, and one particularly interesting young woman had written a card to a lonely young serviceman.

The warm welcome he receives and the love story that follows is a delightful story about how, in matters of the heart, fate can sometimes step in. Rated G

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 

This 1989 Chevy Chase comedy never fails to make me laugh, and some scenes are enough to make me fall off the couch! 

The Griswold clan tries to have a special family Christmas, but it’s one disaster after another – holiday lighting fiascos, a squirrel-infested Christmas tree, relatives who seem determined to ruin the holiday and an exploding septic disaster – not to mention, no holiday bonus. Rated PG

Sleepless in Seattle 

In this 1993 film, it’s Christmas Eve and a radio talk show host asks her audience what they are wishing for during the season of hope. 

A little boy in Seattle calls in his wish – a new wife for his widowed father.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, a charming woman who happens to be listening to the radio is captivated by the boy’s selfless Christmas wish.

Will the couple ever meet? 

Well, this is one of my favorite movies.

What do you think? Rated PG

The Holiday 

Two women who have broken hearts really need to get away for the holidays in this 2006 rom-com.

They find each other on the internet and travel to different continents to swap houses for Christmas.

Although they are absolutely not looking for romance, Kate Winslet, who is spending Christmas in California, falls in love with Jack Black, while Cameron Diaz spends Christmas in Winslet’s home in England, where she meets and falls in love with Jude Law. 

It’s a beautifully written screenplay.

Rated PG-13 (Some adult content and language)

Die Hard 

All a tough New York City cop, (Bruce Willis) wants for Christmas is to reunite with his estranged wife. 

He arrives in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve at her office building as a holiday party is underway, but the festivities suddenly turn into a deadly hostage situation.

It’s violent, very violent. But this movie is the perfect palate cleanser for all those syrupy sweet Christmas movies that I love to binge on. Rated R for violence and language

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