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Classic Holiday Movies
By Sarah "Dixie" Feldman

What would the holidays be without festive lights, bustling shoppers, passive-aggressive inter-generational dinner discourse, and reliable classics like It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street?

But let's face it, rampant commercialism, crowded malls, family fights and the same old re-runs lose their appeal after awhile. Here are some often-overlooked classic holiday gems you can seek out or rent to bring some much needed variety — and solace — to the season.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
Click here to order your own copyPossibly one of the best family films ever made, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows young Francie as she struggles to maintain her idealism while growing up amidst the poverty and travails of pre-World War I Brooklyn. Torn between her love for her quixotic alcoholic father and her sternly pragmatic mother, Francie navigates early 20th century urban life and a cast of characters that are resonant even a century later. Though there's plenty of comedic touches (Aunt Cissy, shall we say, really likes men) thee film is one of the most poignant and touching you'll find. The scenes at Christmas offer a glimpse into what the holiday was like and how much it meant to pre-modern America.

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Click here to order your own copyBette Davis is completely overshadowed by the hilarious performance of Monty Woolley in this genuinely funny comedy about a cranky (I'd say bitchy) New York critic who turns a midwestern house upside down when he's injured and forced to convalesce there for the holidays. You won't find a better mix of laughs and Christmas ambiance in any other film!


Remember the Night (1940)
Click here to order your own copyThis romantic comedy about the tentative courtship between a beautiful shoplifter and the prosecutor trying to put her in the hoosgow — just not during Christmas — is a wonderful holiday gem. Starring tough yet tender Fred MacMurray and streetwise yet fragile Barbara Stanwyck, this Preston Sturges-penned jewel has enough zany elements and dark undertones to make this what some consider to be a noir screwball comedy.


The Bishop's Wife (1947)
Click here to order your own copyIf I could believe angels really looked and talked like Cary Grant I might throw myself under a bus this minute. But I'd rather sit back and watch this charming movie about faith, magic and a dose of seraphic sexual tension. Also starring David Niven (as the bishop) and Loretta Young (as the wife), The Bishop's Wife has angel Cary rejuvenating their faith (and marriage). There's no need to settle for the Whitney Houston remake, The Preacher's Wife when the original is so wonderful -- and accessible through the year-round miracle of videotape!

This article originally appeared on
Copyright 2001 Oxygen Media.


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1999 Articles List
2000 Articles List
2001 Articles List
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2003 Articles List
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