Libby and Ken’s 10 Favorite Christmas Movies
We find every Christmas season that when we get together with friends the subject of favorite and “best” Christmas movies comes up. People love to talk about this subject!
This year, for the first time we actually went online to see if there was any agreement on the best Christmas movies. We found there are lists galore. Everything from the “8 Best Christmas Movies of All Time” to the “50 Best Christmas Movies.” They are all over the place with some movies that make us scratch our heads. Well, if they can do it so can Libby and Ken. The following are “Libby and Ken’s 10 Favorite Christmas Movies.” Movies we love to watch again each Christmas season.
We have listed the movies in reverse order from 10th to 1st. We discovered it was not hard to identify our favorite moves but was really hard to put them in order. Why should one be ahead of another? How do you pick number 1 best liked? That took some thinking.
There are many reasons for liking or loving a movie. Those reasons add up to the feelings you get when you watch the movie and the feelings left after the movie is over. We took those into account and try to explain them. The deciding factor in the top couple though is some kind of personal connection we have with the movie that others may not have. So with all of that in mind, here are Libby and Ken’s 10 Favorite Christmas Movies.
#10 – Holiday Inn
1942. Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, & Louise Beavers.
A musical comedy with an unbelievable premise of a New England country inn that is only open for certain holidays. When they are open, though, there is music and dancing and funny stuff galore. This was made back when dancers knew how to dance to real music. Great tunes by Irving Berlin! This was the debut of the much loved “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby.
#9 – The Muppet Christmas Carol
1992. Michael Caine as Scrooge with the Muppets.
There have been many versions of Charles Dicken’s classic story and we love most of them. This one we love for the pure wackiness of it. What do you expect from the Muppets? Plus Michael Caine playing it very straight among the crazies. It really works without losing the message of the story and we think Caine really pulls off a fun performance! We’ve got to believe he had a fun time making this movie!
#8 – A Charlie Brown Christmas
1965. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, et. al.
The whole Peanuts gang is here in this short precious little jewel of a Christmas show. If you are familiar with the Peanuts gang and their eccentricities, you will recognize them here. Besides the fun, the kids show a very mature understanding of the meaning of Christmas. Vince Guaraldi’s classic musical score stays happily in our heads way after the show is over.
#7 – The Shop Around the Corner
1940. James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan (yes, this is the correct spelling), and Frank Morgan.
Like so many stories that resonate during the Christmas season, this is a story of slowly dawning understanding that things are not as bad as they seem and are actually quite wonderful. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are two employees of a store in Budapest, Hungary during the Christmas season who really don’t like each other. How this all changes is a great story played out by wonderful old Hollywood studio regulars.
#6 – It’s a Wonderful Life
1946. James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Karolyn Grimes, and Henry Travers.
Everybody knows about this classic. We can’t really add anything to the description of the story and its meaning. However, take another look at number 7 above and see who is in it and what the theme of the movie is. Again, great performances by great performers! It never fails to grab us!
#5 – A Christmas Carol
1951. Alistair Sim, Michael Hordern, Mervyn Johns, and Kathleen Harrison.
As we said for number 9 above, there have been many movie versions of this Charles Dickens’ classic. This was not the first and certainly not the last. Of the ones, we’ve seen we really like this one the best. The great English actor Alistair Sim is a perfect Scrooge. It also helps that unlike so many other versions, he is actually English. This version is also known as being very close to the actual story as written by Charles Dickens. We like that too!
Now having said all of that, we have to admit this movie is just barely ahead of the version starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. We love this one too but Sim beats out Scott by a hair.
#4 – The Sound of Music
1965. Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, and Heather Menzies.
While this movie does not have a plot connection to Christmas we just love to watch it during the Christmas holiday season. Full of fabulous Rogers and Hammerstein music, gorgeous Austrian scenery, and singers who can actually sing. This movie just fills us with the joy that goes perfectly with the holiday season. Though not normally prone to acting out this way, Libby and Ken have been known to sing along on “Climb Every Mountain, My Favorite Things, Edelweiss, and Ken’s favorite, The Lonely Goatherd.
Personal connections can cement enjoyment as well. Ken was stationed in Austria while in the service and loved his time there. He also knows Rose, at the time, the early 1950s, a young Austrian gal who was married to her American army sweetheart in the same church where Maria and Captain von Trapp are married in the movie.
Rose was a child during the Anschluss and WWII and actually personally saw Hitler and experienced much of what happened to Austria in the movie and during the war. Rose eventually moved to Antioch, California with her husband. After many years during a visit to her family in Salzburg, Rose and her husband renewed their vows in that same beautiful church. We think of Rose whenever we see the marriage scene in the movie.
#3 – Miracle on 34th Street
1947. We are talking about the version starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Gene Lockhart and a very young Natalie Wood.
We have not seen all the versions of this classic tale of learning to leave behind cynicism and distrust and embrace hope and trust. Maybe we will eventually find one we like better but we’re not holding our breath.
The era, department store, and Santa Claus parade scenes are right out of Libby and Ken’s childhood. Not to mention that Edmund Gwenn is Santa Claus as we envisioned him as children. You really want him to be Santa Clause. It helps that the beard is real!
#2 – A Christmas Story
1983. Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella.
This has become a real favorite of Libby and Ken. We actually met someone yesterday who has not seen this movie and did not understand the significance of Ken’s “Major Award” that proudly glows in the window. So we have to be careful to not spoil the fun for someone who has yet to enjoy this classic.
It’s about Christmas time for kids and their typical kid Christmas season obsessions and adventures during the era when Libby and Ken were kids. A real romp through “kiddom” as author and narrator Jean Shepherd says.
So many of the kid’s adventures were experienced by Libby and Ken when that age. Things like the tongue on the frozen flagpole, (Libby), the air rifle obsession and “you’ll shoot your eye out kid,” (Ken), the pre-T.V. radio shows, and secret decoder device, (Ken). (Only Ken’s was a Captain Midnight decoder, not Little Orphan Annie. Oh and let’s not forget the dogs and the turkey. Hilarious!
If you have not seen this movie we envy you. You have a chance to experience it for the first time. Just remember. Ken actually has his own “Major Award!”
Libby and Ken’s #1 Favorite Christmas Movie of All Time
#1 – White Christmas
1954. Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, Vera-Ellen, and Dean Jagger.
Oh, and costumes by Edith Head. Libby’s favorite!
By now you know that Libby and Ken love classic musicals. The kind where the singers can sing and the dancers can really dance. That Vera-Ellen is something else on the dance floor!
Obviously, this comedy has a Christmas time theme. Irving Berlin brought back his classic “White Christmas” song with who else but Bing Crosby singing it for this movie. Besides loving the music and performances of the cast, Libby and Ken have special threads of attachment to the story which make this our number one Christmas movie.
Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen
Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen play sisters who just happen to have a sister singing act. Their key song in the movie is “Sisters.” Libby and her sister Susan have a very close “sister relationship” just like in the movie. In fact, Libby’s sister is quite well known in Knoxville, Tennessee theater and is quite the singer herself. Libby sings along with Rosemary and Vera-Ellen every time. Well, not totally accurate. Vera-Ellen’s lyrics were actually dubbed by Rosemary Clooney. Vera-Ellen could dance like crazy but could not sing a note.
Bing Crosby, Danny Kay, and Dean Jagger
Ken’s special connection to this movie starts at the beginning of the movie with the Crosby, Kay, and Jagger characters in the army in Europe at Christmas time during World War II. The particular homesickness felt by guys away in the military at Christmas time is perfectly captured in the lyrics of the title song “White Christmas.” Ken was on active duty in the Marines for nearly 5 years, with some of that time at war. During his service time, he was away from home for 3 Thanksgiving’s and 3 Christmases. What that felt like comes back every time he sees the movie.
Ken’s second connection to the movie is the joyous reunion of the “guys” from the army. After nearly 40 years Ken had the same joy when he finally reconnected with his “guys” from Vietnam days. That scene when the general is surprised to see all those men he had led there and heard them sing how much they love him always brings a lump to Ken’s throat and tears to his eyes.
So that’s it for Libby and Ken’s favorite Christmas movies. Are any of these movies on your list? Leave your comment below and let us know!