What Are Some Classic Christmas Films?

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As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, there’s no better time to get cozy on the couch and watch a classic Christmas movie. From The Santa Clause to It’s a Wonderful Life, there’s a Christmas film to suit every taste. Here are seven classic holiday films to watch with family and friends during the Christmas season.

  1. The Polar Express

    This 2004 film by Robert Zemeckis is adapted from the classic Children’s Christmas book by Chris Van Allsburg. In it, a young boy leaves his bed in the middle of the night and boards a train bound for the North Pole. Once they arrive, the boy meets Santa Claus and is chosen to receive the first present of Christmas. Tom Hanks not only stars, but plays five separate characters in this animated film.

  2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

    This film, originally made for television in 1956, has been a Christmas staple ever since. Featuring the usual cast of Peanuts characters, the storyline centers around Charlie Brown, who feels unhappy as Christmas draws near. After consulting Lucy, he attempts to cheer himself up by getting involved in the school’s nativity play. In the end, he finds happiness after his friends gather to help him decorate his Christmas tree and sing Hark the Herald Angels together.

  3. The Santa Clause

    This enduring favorite stars Tim Allen as a divorced businessman, trying and failing to make Christmas fun for his son, Charlie. After he accidentally knocks Santa Claus off the roof, he discovers that a little known “Santa Clause” compels him to take over the duties of Santa Claus. Tim Allen is entertaining as Scott Calvin, and Judge Reinhold does an excellent job portraying Charlie’s stepfather, Dr. Neil Miller.

  4. Miracle on 34th Street

    This 1947 film follows the story of Kris Kringle, a man who announces that he is the real Santa Claus after volunteering as Santa at a local department store. A court case takes place in order to determine whether he is in his right mind, and whether his claim could possibly be true. This movie has been remade four times since 1947, most notably in 1994. It has been preserved by both the National Film Registry and the Academy Film Archive.

  5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

    This comedy, made in 1989, stars Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. Chevy Chase’s character, Clark Griswold, is committed to making sure his family has a great Christmas. However, his boss, his extended family, and his neighbors have other ideas. This movie is the third installment of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series, following National Lampoon’s Vacation and National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Despite its link to the other Vacation films, it is the only film featuring the Griswold family that is set in their home.

  6. A Christmas Carol

    This classic 1938 film is adapted from the Charles Dickens novel of the same name. The story features Ebeneezer Scrooge, a wealthy and greedy businessman who is visited by the ghost of his old business partner on Christmas Eve. Scrooge’s former partner’s ghost warns him that if he doesn’t repent from his greedy business practices, Scrooge will suffer in the afterlife. Before disappearing, the ghost tells Scrooge that three Christmas spirits will be visiting him throughout the night. After the spirits visit, Scrooge decides to change his ways. Upon waking up on Christmas morning, he makes steps to repair relations with his family and business associates.

  7. It’s a Wonderful Life

    Considered by critics to be among the most beloved and essential Christmas films, It’s a Wonderful Life follows the story of George Bailey, played by James Stewart. George, who has spent his whole life sacrificing his dreams for the good of others, decides in a moment of desperation to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. His guardian angel, Clarence, appears in order to convince George to continue living. Clarence shows George all the ways that he has improved the lives of the people around him, and how different his hometown of Bedford Falls would be if George hadn’t grown up there. Despite not doing well at the box office, this film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is considered to be among the best films ever made.