The emergence of the festive film as a Christmas tradition is a relatively new phenomenon compared to the likes of trees, carols and crackers.
But there’s little doubt that some celluloid classics are as much as part of Yule tide as cranberry sauce and turkey. In fact, fighting over the TV guide or struggling for remote control supremacy probably brings more families together than Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly.
So if it’s accepted that Christmas movies are part of the furniture, it’s time to settle the argument of exactly what cinematic classics should be screened.
Here are five films that often make an appearance at Christmas but not everyone will have seen before.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
A box-office flop at the time of its release, this is one of the most popular and heart-warming films ever made. Originally released in 1946 this classic didn’t actually become a “classic” until numerous repeat showings each December made it a festive staple in the 1970s. In a bittersweet post-war tale of a savings-and-loan manager who struggles against a greedy banker and his own self-doubting nature in a small town, it encompasses everything that is good about this time of the year and a real tear jerker for the whole family.
Okay, there are several versions of this Christmas classic to choose from, but for pure atmosphere and festive vibe it has to be the 1951 adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim (whose performance was so good his voice was used in the 1971animated version). As we all know, Stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, is known as the meanest miser in Victorian London. But has a haunting nightmare on Christmas eve where he is visited by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley and he is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell Marley.
3. The Snowman
Alright, alright, this may be more of a TV special, but it is now as part of the tradition as mince pies and baubles – so that will do. The 26 minute animated adventure tells the story a young boy who makes a snowman one Christmas Eve, only for it to come to life that night and take him on a magical adventure to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. The cartoon classic is remembered as much for its soundtrack as it is some magnificent illustrations.
4. White Christmas
Mostly loved due to the fact that the story (if there is one) is mainly based around the film’s title song, this is certainly one of the first names on any Christmas “must see” list. But for anyone who is interested and hasn’t seen it – a successful song-and-dance team become romantically involved with a sister act and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general – in a nutshell.
A slightly off the wall recommendation, but a Christmas film none the less – and one which has become part of festive folklore since it was released in 1984. A horde of malicious critters might destroy a picture-postcard American town, but hey, there’s snow and turkey!