Like many people, one of our many holiday rituals is watching Christmas movies, such as White Christmas, The Miracle on 34th Street, and It’s a Wonderful Life. In the late 1980s, I started collecting classic films on videotapes and eventually DVDs. As technologies changed, I began recording films from Turner Classic Movies and multiple online sources. A treasured section of this ever-growing cinema collection contains more than 50 holiday films. Every year my wife, Barbara, and I start watching these films through Advent to Christmas then New Year’s Day and Epiphany. Along with decorating the house, preparing the holiday feasts and streaming our seasonal iTunes playlists, watching these classic movies has become a standard feature of our extended holiday celebration.
Each year we try to add some “new” films to the list: not something from the Hallmark Channel, mind you, but some old movie that is new to us, and among those oddities we have frequently discovered remarkable films that we return to year after year.
Let me explain a bit about our holiday cinema catalog. Only nine of the 45 films were shot in color, and only five were made after 1960. More than half were released before 1950. While our list contains obvious classics, such as The Bishop’s Wife and Christmas in Connecticut, several have only the barest of holiday connections. For example, is The Thin Man (1934) a Christmas movie? Yes, because in the midst of discovering who killed the thin man, there is a delightful scene of Nick and Nora Charles lounging around the Christmas tree after opening gifts.