What better way to celebrate “the most wonderful time of the year” than by watching a beloved holiday film or TV classic? Within the gallery below, you’ll find the season’s most magically memorable movies, shows and specials — stories that celebrate not a particular faith, but the yuletide spirit of goodwill to all.
Spanning more than a century, these heartwarming classics, uplifting comedies, romantic romps, musical extravaganzas and children’s cartoons were created to put smiles on the faces of children and grown-ups alike, and to bring everyone who watches them closer together. Each is a treasure you’ll enjoy watching time and time again. Get ready for a sleighload of holiday cheer!
Santa Claus (1898)
In an elegant home on Christmas Eve, a young brother and sister (Harold and Dorothy Smith) are eagerly inspecting the chimney, awaiting the arrival of someone special. The nurse (Laura Bayley) comes up behind the children and cheerfully hastens them to bed. She tucks them in and douses the light, throwing the room into darkness.
Suddenly, on the sloping roof in a gentle snowfall, Santa Claus approaches the chimney with Christmas tree in hand. After carefully navigating the slippery tiles he descends into the chimney. Santa emerges from the shadowy fireplace and, while the children sleep, places gifts in the stockings slung from their bedpost. He reclaims his tree, bestows a parting blessing and then vanishes. When the children awake, they’re jubilant at their Christmas bounty.
Produced in 1898, in England, Santa Claus was the first Christmas movie ever made.
The silent film has a running time of just 76 seconds.
Director Smith was an inventor, hypnotist, psychic and astronomer, as well as perhaps the first filmmaker to use sophisticated visual effects, including double exposure, to create fantasy scenes.
The Christmas Dream (1900)
In an affluent home in a medieval European city, a governess is putting an eager young boy and girl to bed on Christmas Eve. Their stockings are laid out on the blanket, waiting to be filled. While they sleep, they dream of all the Christmas festivities taking place around the world.
At the North Pole, there’s an icicle-laden cavern strewn with presents. Santa Claus quickly reviews the toys as ornately dressed frolickers dance about to the accompaniment of festive minstrels. Eventually, Santa shoos the revelers away — there’s work to be done!
Up on snow-covered rooftops, “celestial messengers” brave the storm to deposit presents in the chimney of one particular house — is it that of the dreamers? Elsewhere, in a large church, four boys, urged on by their elderly master, pull strenuously on bell ropes to summon parishioners. The large doors open and worshippers enter, shaking snow from their coats. Above, the giant bell swings, loudly announcing the midnight service.
Shortly after, in the streets of the quaint city, a throng gathers to participate in the Procession of Lanterns. At the same time, inside the dining hall of a great manor — where the children are abed — a Christmas banquet is being enjoyed with toasting and great celebration. Yet the poor haven’t been forgotten, as a beggar is fed at the feast. Finally, back in their bedroom, the boy and girl rush from their bed to the fireplace to embrace their impressive gifts. The adults join them, wishing the two a merry Christmas. Back at the frozen, snowy North Pole, a group of young ballet artists and happy harlequins celebrate Christmas Day with a dance, then gather around a great Christmas tree.
The French short silent film runs just four minutes.
Director Georges Méliès was an illusionist who became the foremost maker of fantasy films in the early days of cinema.
Méliès began making his first short films in 1896.
He also created the first science fiction film, the classic A Trip to the Moon (1902).
The film bears no relation to the 1946 short A Christmas Dream, in which a girl’s rag doll comes to life on Christmas.
Babes In Toyland (1934)
In the charming town of Toyland, where Mother Goose characters live and Christmas toys are made, the Widow Peep (Florence Roberts) is threatened with eviction from her “shoe” by the villainous Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon). The only way to prevent the foreclosure is to pay her overdue mortgage — or consent to her daughter Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) marrying the gnarled skinflint.
The Widow rejects the ultimatum and hopes to pay off her mortgage with the help of good-natured tenants Stannie Dum (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy), who promise her they can their boss, the Toymaker. However, the pair are fired after botching an order for Santa Claus (Ferdinand Munier): Instead of making 600 toy soldiers one foot tall, the shop built 100 toy soldiers six feet tall.
“I couldn’t get those things to my children to play with,” Santa chuckles. Though Bo-Peep loves young Tom-Tom Piper (Felix Knight), she unhappily accepts the marriage to Barnaby. The wedding day comes, and Ollie arrives with the veiled bride. When Barnaby tries to kiss her, however, he discovers Stannie under the veil rather than Bo-Peep! The two are now wed, which causes Stannie to sob, “I don’t love him!"
Barnaby vengefully kidnaps Elmer, one of the Three Little Pigs, and frames Tom-Tom. Stannie and Ollie discover the pig in Barnaby’s basement, but it’s too late — Tom-Tom has been sent for punishment across the lake to the dreaded Bogeyland. Bo-Peep goes after him with no thought at all for her own safety. When the angry townspeople chase Barnaby, he takes a secret hidden passage to Bogeyland. Stannie and Ollie pursue him and find Bo-Peep and Tom-Tom. The four are then chased back to Toyland by Barnaby and his frightening, fanged Bogeymen, who proceed to overrun the town.
Stannie and Ollie cleverly activate the giant wooden soldiers they’d been fired for building. As one, the soldiers march majestically into the village and defeat the Bogeymen. As the monsters flee, Stannie aims at them a cannon loaded with darts — which tips over and shoots Ollie instead. Stannie is left to pull them from his friend, one painful point at a time.
Babes in Toyland was based on Victor Herbert’s beloved 1903 operetta of the same name. Many of the songs were retained for the film version.
Producer Hal Roach was good friends with Walt Disney, who allowed him to use the tune “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from the “Three Little Pigs” cartoon.
The film was renamed March of the Wooden Soldiers when it was rereleased to theaters in 1950. That title continues to be associated with the picture.
Henry Brandon, who plays grizzled baddie Silas Barnaby, was only 21 when he was cast.
A number of injuries occurred during filming. Laurel tore ligaments in his right leg falling from a platform, Brandon was hurt in a fight, and Kewpie Morgan — who played the perpetually laughing Old King Cole — ruptured his stomach muscles enacting the endless mirth.
While there were multiple other film versions, the movies from 1961 and 1997 had nothing to do with Christmas.
Holiday Inn (1942)
It’s Christmas Eve, and singer Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) and dancer Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) are ready to leave the glamour of the stage behind. They plan to marry and live on a farm Jim's purchased in Midville, Conn. However, on the evening of their final show, he discovers that Lila is breaking up with him to perform with — and marry — dancer Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire).
The rejected Jim moves to the farm anyway. There, after several seasons of milking cows and wrestling pigs, he’s inspired to transform the spread into a country inn for holiday performances. That way, he figures, he only has to work 15 days a year. All he needs is some entertainers.
Young flower shop employee Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) — at the suggestion of Ted’s manager, Danny Reed (Walter Abel), with whom she has a chance encounter — auditions at the Holiday Inn. Jim’s drawn to her, and he hires her on the spot. When he sings her his new song, “White Christmas,” beside a welcoming fireplace, the attraction becomes mutual.
During the New Year’s Eve show, Linda encounters a very drunk Ted, whom Lila has just left to marry a Texas millionaire. Ted and Linda dance together, and Danny realizes his client has found his new partner. However, he loses her in the crowd.
In the morning, a hungover Ted can’t quite remember what Linda looks like, and Danny only saw her from behind. Both are determined to find her. They return the next holiday.
Meanwhile, Jim has proposed to Linda — but wants to wait until the inn makes enough money to support them before they wed.
"Right now," he informs her, "I've got the ledger in an iron lung." Not wanting to lose another love to Ted, Jim does everything he can to keep him from running into Linda again. He disguises her for her performance on Lincoln’s birthday so Ted and Danny fail to recognize her.
However, the men finally figure out Linda’s identity on Valentine’s Day, and Ted comes to the Inn over the next few holidays to woo her.
Each time, Jim tries to run interference. Finally Ted and Danny bring out the big guns. They invite Hollywood bigwigs to the inn to see the couple perform. Though Jim manages to keep Linda from showing up — by having his handyman Gus (Irving Bacon) drive her into a pond! — the VIPs are impressed by the inn itself.
The muddy Linda shows up just in time to hear the producers offer to make a movie about the Holiday Inn — starring Ted and Linda. Linda’s angry that Jim didn’t think enough of her to let her make her own decision. Frustrated, she agrees to go to Hollywood with Ted. Jim’s beaten and tells the filmmakers they can make a movie about the inn only if he can just stay at home and write the songs. The deal is struck. Dejected, Jim is convinced by his maid, Mamie (Louise Beavers), to fight for his lady love.
“You could melt her heart right down to butter if you’d only turn on the heat!” she tells him.
Inspired, Jim takes a train to the coast, arrives in Hollywood on Christmas Eve and learns that Ted and Linda are just about to wed. Jim goes to the studio and shows up just before the last scene of the film — which happens to be Linda singing “White Christmas” on the Holiday Inn set — is to be shot.
Locking Ted and Danny in their dressing room and hurrying to the soundstage, Jim joins Linda for the song as the cameras roll. He spoils the take, but the magical, nostalgic moment reunites them. On New Year’s Eve, back in Connecticut, the couple perform at the real Holiday Inn. They’re joined by Ted and Lila — who found out that her Texas man wasn’t worth millions, he owed millions — and all ends happily.
Composer Irving Berlin won an Academy Award for Best Song for the immortal “White Christmas.” The film was also nominated for Best Score and Best Writing.
To make his drunk dancing authentic, Fred Astaire downed two bourbons before the first take of the scene, then had one more drink before each subsequent take.
The singing voice of Marjorie Reynolds (Linda) was dubbed by Martha Mears, a radio and film contralto.
The name of the Holiday Inn hotel chain was inspired by the film.
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
Christmas is at the heart of this story about a year in the life of a close-knit family in St. Louis, Mo., just after the turn of the 20th century. It’s summertime 1903, and 17-year-old Esther Smith (Judy Garland) and her older sister, Rose (Lucille Bremer), are preoccupied with their respective love interests. Esther is smitten with timid neighbor John Truitt (Tom Drake), while Rose’s beau, Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully), is away at Yale.
Convinced that Warren intends to propose to her sister on a prearranged phone call, Esther contrives to have dinner served early so Rose can have privacy for her special conversation.
However, Esther’s oblivious father, Alonzo (Leon Ames), insists on eating at the standard time, ruining her scheme. While dining, the family hears Rose’s conversation, during which Warren talks of everything but marriage. Rose is mortified, but the family, including her mother, Anna (Mary Astor), rallies around her.
A going-away party is thrown for the girls’ brother, Lon Jr. (Henry Daniels), who’s off to Princeton. Thanks to Rose, Esther’s dream man attends. She and John are clearly drawn to each other. Autumn arrives, and Esther’s younger sisters, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) and Agnes (Joan Carroll) are celebrating Halloween with pranks. When Tootie returns home, cut and bruised, she claims John Truitt hit her. Furious, Esther confronts the man she loves by hitting and biting him.
However, Tootie and Agnes finally admit that John actually rescued them when they pulled a dangerous prank at the trolley tracks. A mortified Esther returns to apologize. Truitt accepts, finally kissing his love.
Esther’s joy is short-lived. The family is devastated when their father informs them he’s become head of a law office in New York City and will be moving them there. “We’ll leave right after Christmas,” he says. “I thought we’d all like to have Christmas in St. Louis.”
The Smiths aren’t consoled. Not only are their social lives threatened, they despair at having to miss the spectacular St. Louis Exposition opening in the spring. Everything comes to a head on Christmas Eve. The older sisters try to be upbeat when they attend a local dance. At least Esther gets her wish: Following a romantic dance, Truitt proposes to her. Returning home, she finds Tootie sadly waiting for Santa. Esther tries to cheer her with a song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which only upsets Tootie more. She runs outside and destroys the family of “snow people” she’d built earlier.
Witnessing her tantrum, Alonzo realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. He immediately informs the family they won’t be moving after all. In the midst of his declaration, Warren bursts in, professes his love for Rose, and asks her to marry him. With joy in their hearts, the family open their Christmas gifts!
The next spring, horse-drawn buggies convey the Smiths and their spouses to the fairground, which sparkles with thousands of lights — and brilliant hope for the future.
Margaret O’Brien won a special Oscar for Best Child Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Music and Best Song — “The Trolley Song,” which was sung by Judy Garland.
Although the 21-year-old Garland first refused the part of Esther — she was tired of playing teenagers — director Vincente Minnelli eventually convinced her (and, the following year, also married her!). Years later, Garland admitted it was one of her favorite roles.
With the exception of 1939’s Gone With the Wind, the film grossed more money than any MGM film in the previous 20 years.
All of the film’s publicity materials misspelled Truitt (as it’s written in the film) as Truett.
A musical version of the film opened on Broadway in 1989 and ran for 252 performances.
Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
Living alone in a New York City apartment, Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) writes "Diary of a Housewife" — a popular national magazine column that depicts her as a woman living in bucolic splendor on a farm with her husband, her loving family — and their cow. Her tales, while completely fabricated, appeal to legions of unsuspecting housewives across the country.
Elizabeth’s publisher, Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet), is also unaware of the deception. When he insists that Elizabeth host a Christmas gathering for one special reader — war hero Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) — she must quickly come up with home, hearth, husband and child or face career-destroying exposure.
First she arranges a swift engagement to her stuffy friend, architect John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner), who owns a farm in Connecticut; he wants to marry immediately. Next, she meets a young mother who works at a defense factory and arranges to babysit for her infant, intending to pass the child off as her own. Finally, everything is ready ... to go very, very wrong.
First, the handsome, likeable war hero, Jones, arrives. So does Judge Crothers (Dick Elliott), whom Sloan has tasked with marrying him and Elizabeth on the spot. Yardley, the publisher, is expecting the best home-cooked meal of his life — a meal Elizabeth’s arranged for by making an emergency call to her dear uncle, New York restaurateur Felix Bassanek (S.Z. Sakall). The easily flustered chef hurries to Connecticut to prepare the feast.
As Elizabeth finds increasingly underhanded ways of delaying the nuptials — and explaining the fact that her baby isn’t the boy she writes about, but a girl — she and Jones grow closer. Things begin to unravel at a community Christmas dance when the two get cozy in a nearby sleigh. The horse trots off through the snowy countryside, and the pair are put in jail for sled theft.
Back at the farm, Yardley sees the baby being taken away by its real mother, mistakes it for a kidnapping and summons the police. When Elizabeth and Jones are let out of prison the next morning, Yardley scolds his employee for her poor parenting. This prompts the exasperated and exhausted Elizabeth to reveal the truth. Yardley’s shocked, Sloan’s horrified and Elizabeth is fired — and dumped.
To make matters worse, Jones’ fiancée, Mary Lee (Joyce Compton), shows up unannounced, and the defeated Elizabeth sadly prepares to leave the farm. But Uncle Felix discovers Mary is already married and tells the war hero he’s free to be with Elizabeth. He also convinces Yardley to rehire her. Surprisingly, she turns down Yardley’s offer. Jones has better luck when he proposes marriage — despite the fact that he now knows she's a terrible cook.
Barbara Stanwyck’s role was originally written for Bette Davis.
The Connecticut farm set was first seen in Bringing Up Baby in 1938.
The film was remade in 1992, starring Dyan Cannon as Elizabeth, Kris Kristofferson as Jones and Tony Curtis as Yardley. It was directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Miracle On 34th Street (1947)
When a man named Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) learns that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa Claus is clearly and thoroughly drunk, he protests to event director Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara). The woman allows Kringle to take the place of the unconscious man.
Kringle is so effective he’s hired for the New York City flagship store on 34th Street. There, he proves to be quite a crowd-pleaser, especially after he tells one customer to get what she wants at another store. The woman is so impressed by his honesty that she promises to come to Macy’s regularly. Doris is divorced, and neighbor Fred Gailey (John Payne), an attorney, kindly offers to take her daughter, Susan (Natalie Wood), to see Santa. The girl has always been taught to be dubious of fairy tales and is stunned to see Kringle conversing with a foreign girl — in Dutch!
When Doris asks him to explain to Susan that he’s not the real Santa, he insists that the reverse is true. Flabbergasted, Doris plans to fire the eccentric old man, but holds off when Mr. Macy (Harry Antrim) himself is so excited by the publicity Kringle has generated he offers her a bonus. Instead, Kringle undergoes an evaluation by psychologist Granville Sawyer (Porter Hall), who finds him mentally sound. However, when Sawyer tells another patient that his mental illness stems from the fact that he is too caring, Kringle whacks analyst with an umbrella — an act of aggression that causes the old gentleman to be incarcerated in Bellevue Hospital. Susan comes to visit him there and reveals that what she wants most of all is a house — a dream home with a lawn and a yard.
“If you’re really Santa Claus, you can get it for me,” she says. “And if you can’t, you’re only a nice man with a white beard like mother says.” Kringle says he’ll see what he can do. Gailey agrees to defend Kringle in court, where the questioning is brief: “Do you really believe that you’re Santa Claus?” Kringle answers, “Of course.” The DA responds, “The state rests, your honor.” Shocking the court, Gailey maintains that his client is the real deal.
He then produces mailbags full of letters the defendant has received — addressed specifically to Santa Claus — and successfully argues that since the U.S. Post Service accepts his identity, so must the court. Judge Henry X. Harper (Gene Lockhart), who is facing reelection and knows that denying the existence of Santa would be political disaster, throws the case out. On Christmas Day, everyone has the best holiday of their lives. The joyous and grateful Kringle has been exonerated. Doris and Gailey are driving around, see a “For sale” sign outside the house of their dreams, and decide to get married. Susan gets her wish too, and she knows the miracle was exactly that when they find Kringle’s cane inside their new home.
Upon receiving a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Edmund Gwenn quipped: “Now I know there’s a real Santa Claus.”
The film also won Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Story.
During production, 9-year-old Natalie Wood believed that Edmund Gwenn was the real Santa Claus — until she saw him out of costume at cast party.
Gwenn portrayed Santa Claus in the real Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1946.
Although the movie takes place at Christmas, it was released in May when more people go to theaters.
The movie was turned into a Broadway musical in 1963 bizarrely titled Here’s Love. It was written by Meredith Willson, who created the immortal The Music Man.
The film was remade in 1994, starring Richard Attenborough, Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott and Mara Wilson as young Susan.
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
On Christmas Eve in 1945, the residents of Bedford Falls, N.Y., are saying solemn prayers for a man who's been their friend, father and son: George Bailey (James Stewart). “Please, God,” a child says. “Something’s the matter with Daddy!”
Their heartfelt wishes reach far into the heavens, to Angel Joseph and a Senior Angel. They begin talking about the man in question, who intends to commit suicide. “Looks like we’ll have to send someone down,” Joseph says.
They enlist the aid of Clarence (Henry Travers), a novice who hasn’t yet acquired his wings, to rescue George. “Is he sick?” asks Clarence.
“No, worse,” the Senior Angel replies. “He’s discouraged.”
If Clarence succeeds in saving him, he’ll finally get his wings — after 200 years of waiting. But first he must get to know George and understand what led him to his current hopeless state. Clarence settles in to observe the past...
It’s 1919. Twelve-year-old George (Bobby Anderson) rescues his little brother, Harry (George Nokes) from a frozen lake. Later he saves a child from being accidentally poisoned by the druggist, Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner), who’s been distracted by the sudden death of his son. Nine years later, George is attending the high school graduation of his brother, when he meets Mary Hatch (Donna Reed), who has privately loved him since childhood. While strolling home with the young lady, George learns from his Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) that his father has died. George selflessly puts aside his plans to travel the world and attend college, choosing to remain at home and deal with the family’s struggling Building & Loan Association. And it definitely needs attention: Selfish Henry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a banker and the wealthiest man in Bedford Falls, wants to close it down.
George confronts Potter. “People were human beings to him,” he says of his father. “But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle."
The Building & Loan's own board of directors agrees to keep the business going — but only if George manages it. He dutifully acquiesces and offers his college tuition to a now grown-up Harry (Todd Karns), with the understanding that when Harry graduates he'll take over running the business, and George will go to college.
But when Harry returns four years later, he already has a job prospect from his new father-in-law. Magnanimous as usual, George doesn’t begrudge his brother the offer and continues overseeing the business himself. The community needs it — and, to George, their good is more important than his own fulfillment.
George is granted a modicum of happiness when he marries Mary. Just as they’re about to start their honeymoon, the stock market crashes and there’s a run on the bank. George gives away their honeymoon fund to satisfy his frightened depositors’ demand for cash. George goes on to establish a housing development, enabling people to own their homes instead of paying exorbitant rent to Potter. In the midst of World War II, brother Harry wins the Medal of Honor as a Navy pilot. George, barred from service due to an ear injury he got when he saved Harry’s life years before, is still in Bedford Falls.
On Christmas Eve, as the town prepares to welcome the returning hero, Uncle Billy goes to the bank and, while taunting Potter about his nephew’s war-hero status, absentmindedly places an envelope containing the Building & Loan’s $8,000 deposit inside Potter’s newspaper. Potter discovers it — and decides there’s no reason he should return the cash.
This just happens to be the day the bank examiner makes a surprise call to look over the Building & Loan’s books. Terrified over possible bankruptcy and jail time for embezzlement, George begs the ruthless Potter for a loan, suggesting that his life insurance policy be used as collateral. Instead, a gleeful Potter calls the police. Following a drunken bar fight, George, despondent, wanders to a nearby bridge and contemplates jumping to his death. Clarence — who now has all the info he needs — assumes human form and leaps into the river himself, prompting George to forget his own troubles and rescue him. Afterward, Clarence tells George he’s his guardian angel.
“Yeah, well what else are you?” a skeptical George scoffs. “Are you a hypnotist?”
When he laments the fact that he was ever born, Clarence gets an idea: He shows him an alternate reality in which there was never a George Bailey.
In this timeline, much has changed — all of it for the worse.
Bedford Falls is now a rowdy town called Pottersville; the distracted druggist is in jail for murder, and the Building & Loan has been shut down. George’s brother is dead, having drowned in the lake as a child because George wasn’t there to save him.
Finally, when George learns that his beloved Mary never got married and now works as a timid librarian, he imprudently introduces himself as her husband. She cries for the police, forcing George to flee.
In desperation, he races back to the fateful bridge and pleads to go back to his real life, but Clarence isn’t there. Suddenly a passing police officer recognizes him, and George realizes his wish has been granted!
Shouting holiday well-wishes to everyone he passes, George rushes home with glee and embraces his children, ecstatic.
Mary and Uncle Billy then show up with stupendous news: Learning of his plight, the citizens of Bedford Falls have raised a whole pot of money to pay for the funds Billy misplaced, rescuing his company and causing the sympathetic bank examiner to tear up Potter’s warrant. A bell on the Baileys’ Christmas tree tolls, and George’s daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes) tells him, “Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”
George looks skyward and says with a wink, “Atta boy, Clarence.”
The film was based on the 1943 short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. The author printed his story as a 21-page Christmas card, which he distributed to 200 friends.
The set for Bedford Falls, featuring 75 buildings sprawling over more than four acres, was among the most expensive ever created up to that time.
Despite taking place in the winter, the film was shot in the summer, during a heat wave. In certain scenes, Stewart can be seen sweating.
The film was nominated for five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Sound Recording and Best Film Editing. (It didn’t win any.)
Although Stewart wasn’t sure about the role — his first after having served valorously in World War II — he was convinced to take it by castmate Lionel Barrymore.
Cary Grant was initially sought for the role of George Bailey. When Frank Capra took over the project, he tweaked the role to fit Stewart’s personality.
The movie was initially a financial failure. Its budget was $3.2 million, but it only made $3.3 when first released.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 94 percent “Certified Fresh” rating and calls it “the holiday classic to define all holiday classics.”
Amahl And The Night Visitors (1951)
Amahl (Chet Allen) is a poor disabled boy who lives in the Holy Land, near Bethlehem. One night he glimpses a strangely bright star and tells his mother (Rosemary Kuhlmann) about it. Accustomed to her son’s fanciful stories, the widow doesn’t believe him. Besides, she’s much more preoccupied with keeping her struggling family fed.
Later that night, three kings following the star — Caspar (Andrew McKinley), Melchior (David Aiken) and Balthazar (Leon Lishner) — seek shelter in the family’s humble home.
The trio are carrying gifts and riches they intend to offer to a special newborn child.
“His eyes are mild,” says one of the travelers. “His hands are those of a king, as king he was born. Incense, myrrh and gold we bring to his side, and the Eastern Star is our guide.”
Though the desperate mother is welcoming at first, she later tries to rob them of their treasure. She’s caught in the act by the kings’ page (Francis Monachino), who assaults her. Amahl wakes up to see the struggle and rushes to her defense.
“Don’t you dare!” the boy shouts.
"Don't you dare, ugly man, hurt my mother! I'll smash in your face! I'll knock out your teeth!" Appreciating the family loyalty, if not the boy’s language, the kings allow them to keep the gold, claiming that the divine child will ultimately have no need of it. Awed by their generosity, the mother turns down the gift. She now wishes she had something of value to give to the child herself.
Similarly moved, Amahl presents his only possession — a crutch — to the kings. Miraculously, the boy’s selfless act causes his leg to heal!
Amahl is invited to accompany the kings on their journey to see the child who’s healed him.
The boy turns to his mother for permission. “Yes, I think you should go,” she says, “and bring thanks to the child yourself."
Observing the tender scene between Amahl and his mother, a shepherd announces, “Oh, sweet dawn, oh dawn of peace.”
Written by Gian Carlo Menotti, Amahl and the Night Visitors is an opera sung in English. It’s the first opera ever created for television.
It debuted on NBC on December 24, 1951.
The composer was inspired to write the work after seeing the Hieronymus Bosch painting The Adoration of the Magi in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This was the first Christmas program to become a yearly TV tradition, being televised annually for 16 years, through 1966.
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)
Bookie Sidney Milburn (Bob Hope) — known as The Lemon Drop Kid because of the candies he eats — is at a horse race in Florida. There working a con, he convinces a woman to change her bet. Two problems: The lady is the girlfriend of gangster Moose Moran (Fred Clark), and the horse she was originally going to bet on wins. Sidney now owes Moose $10,000, he’s told. The gangster allows the bookie to return home to New York City to raise the money, provided he has it ready by Christmas Eve.
With the aid of his girlfriend, nightclub singer “Brainey” Baxter (Marilyn Maxwell), Sidney converts an abandoned casino into a charity for down-on-their luck elderly women.
They dub it the “Nellie Thursday Home for Old Dolls” — one of his tenants is Nellie Thursday (Jane Darwell), a sweet neighborhood resident who was denied admission into a retirement home because her husband is behind bars — and donations come rolling in.
Unknown to all, Sidney secretly plans to steal the donations. But Brainey’s boss, Oxford Charlie (Lloyd Nolan), who wants to use the Home as a front for a gambling operation, kidnaps the old ladies and steals the charity funds himself. Taking a break from all the scheming, Sidney dresses as Santa and goes for a walk with Brainey. Together, they sing “Silver Bells” while strolling through the snowy streets. They serenade eager children and a jolly street Santa, and even poke fun at a surly police officer. More New Yorkers join in, including cab drivers and charity collectors, as the entire city shares the holiday spirit.
The respite is short-lived, as Sidney goes into a panic over the lost women and money. To retrieve the cash, he disguises himself as an elderly woman and sneaks into Charlie’s home. After confronting the gangster in his office, Sidney stuns him and escapes with both the funds and the old ladies. Back at the Home for Old Dolls, Sidney finally meets with Moose Moran, who’s ominously brought someone with him: Charlie, who outrageously insists that he be repaid for the theft of the money that he himself stole! However, Sidney has a backup plan. He throws a switch, exposing concealed casino tables occupied by the elderly women. As he and his friends fight off the criminals, the police show up for a surprise raid and arrest Moose and Charlie.
Sidney goes to court and promises the judge to devote himself to the Home, while Nellie is happily reunited with her paroled husband. In the end, the reformed Sidney and Brainey are on the path to reconciliation — and marriage.
The Christmas tune “Silver Bells” was introduced in the film. After Bing Crosby’s recording of the song became popular in December 1950 — before the film was released — Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell were called in to reshoot a bigger, longer musical version involving more singers.
"Silver Bells” was initially named “Tinkle Bells” — until the wife of one of the songwriters remarked that the word “tinkle” had an off-putting connotation.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Financier Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) hates people. He never gives to charity, shows no mercy to his debtors, rejects a dinner invitation from his nephew, Fred (Brian Worth) and treats his clerk, Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns), with disdain. He also hates Christmas, and only with the greatest reluctance lets his loyal employee take the holiday off.
On Christmas Eve, while dining at home alone, Scrooge is visited by a terrifying apparition — the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern). Fastened to him is a chain attached to money boxes — a burden from his greedy life that now weighs him down for eternity.
The spirit ominously warns Scrooge that he must change his miserly ways or face a worse fate, since he’s had many more years to harden his own shackles. Marley tells him he’ll be visited by three ghosts, though he doesn’t explain why.
When the clock tolls one, Scrooge is confronted by the Spirit of Christmas Past (Michael Dolan), who whisks the bewildered man on a tour through his childhood. He’s reminded of his mother, who died in childbirth, and his father, who rejected him because of it.
Scrooge beholds a joyous Christmas party thrown by his former employer Fezziwig (Roddy Hughes) — whom he realizes didn’t need money to be happy.
He’s also made to revisit the death of his sister Fanny (Carol Marsh) and the end of his engagement to his sweetheart, Alice (Rona Anderson), who was less important to him than making money.
Next Scrooge relives his partner Marley’s death, and is chided for taking possession of the dead man’s house and assets. “As your business prospered, Ebenezer Scrooge, a golden idol took possession of your heart," the spirit tells him. When Scrooge is returned home, he meets the Spirit of Christmas Present (Francis De Wolff), who shows the miser how the common people celebrate Christmas. He’s also given glimpses of holiday cheer in the humble Cratchit home and sees that, despite being poor, they’re grateful and contented as a family.
Surprisingly, Scrooge asks after Cratchit’s lame son, Tiny Tim (Glyn Dearman), who suffers from tuberculosis. The spirit doubts the sincerity of the question, reminding Scrooge what he told the charity collectors earlier: that the poor are better off dead.
Scrooge then faces the cloaked, bony-handed Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, who whisks him forward to see the Cratchits grieving over the death of Tiny Tim.
After watching the townspeople sell off a dead man’s belongings, and hearing businessmen jesting about someone’s demise, Scrooge realizes he’s no longer alive in this future. The spirit shows the terrified man his own untended grave.
Desperate, Scrooge implores the spirit for a second chance — and suddenly finds himself in bed, safe and sound, on Christmas Day!
Scrooge races from his home and bestows lavish gifts on everyone he’s ever wronged. He more than quadruples the salary of Mrs. Dilber (Kathleen Harrison), his charwoman, and has an immense, expensive turkey sent to the Cratchits. He also raises Bob Cratchit’s pay, and offers to help his struggling family in any way he can.
Tiny Tim eventually recovers from his sickness and finds a second father in the now-reformed Ebenezer Scrooge. Overjoyed, Tim exclaims, “God bless us, every one!”
A British film first released in the U.K. under the title Scrooge, it was a box-office disappointment in the U.S.
After the film was aired on American TV three years later, it steadily gained popularity. It’s now one of the most beloved adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic.
White Christmas (1954)
It’s Christmas Eve on the European front during World War II. At the “yuletide clambake,” popular crooner Capt. Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) sings “White Christmas” to the troops. Suddenly, a bombardment causes a wall to fall, and an aspiring entertainer, Pvt. Phil Davis (Danny Kaye), injures his arm pushing Wallace out of harm’s way. As a reward, Wallace agrees to sing a song Davis has written when the war ends. Davis asks to sing it with him, and Wallace agrees. An enduring partnership ensues.
Over the years, the men play bigger and bigger clubs and become both a phenomenon on radio and producing partners on Broadway. In Florida, as they’re about to take a Christmas break from rehearsing their newest musical, Playing Around, the men are contacted by their former mess sergeant. He asks his old pals if they’d mind taking a look at an act his sisters, Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen), have put together. The partners visit the girls’ club and are immediately enamored — Bob with Betty, and Phil with Judy.
But while Phil’s romance proceeds just fine, Bob irritates Betty with his strongly held belief that everyone in show business has a self-serving “angle.” The relationships seem fated to end there, since the women are booked for Christmas-season performances in Vermont, and the men are headed for New York. At Phil’s urging, the men decide to take a break — in Vermont.
“That sounds very Vermont-y,” Bob says. The four entertainers take a train to the unseasonably warm, snowless town of Pine Tree. There they discover that the Columbia Inn is owned by Maj. Gen. Waverly (Dean Jagger), their former commanding officer in the Army. He may have been a master of battlefield tactics, but he’s now a struggling innkeeper trying to keep the lodge afloat — especially with the springlike weather.
“We’re using the ski tow to hang the wash on,” comments housekeeper and switchboard operator Emma Allen (Mary Wickes).
Making matters worse, Waverly has put all his savings and his pension into remodeling the inn. With his request to return to active service denied, the holiday season must be a success for him.
To help make that happen, Bob and Phil arrange for the entire cast and crew of Playing Around to perform at the inn. They also figure out how to integrate Judy and Betty into the show.
Bob has another idea. He contacts Army pal Ed Harrison (Johnny Grant), a national TV personality. Bob will go on the show, sing a tune, and ask any of the general’s former soldiers who are watching to surprise him by coming to the inn for Christmas. Harrison has a better idea: He suggests that Bob have the cast of Playing Around perform on the show, which would be free publicity for the two producers.
Bob is adamant that the general’s misfortune not be used for his own financial gain. However, eavesdropping Emma only picks up a portion of the conversation. She hears Harrison make the offer — but doesn’t hear Bob turn it down. Betty’s furious when Emma reveals what she’s heard. She immediately accepts a singing gig in New York City and rushes back. Judy misconstrues her action: She thinks her sister is falling in love with Bob, but won’t pursue him for fear of breaking up the act. Solution: Judy convinces Phil to announce their own fake engagement, thinking it will bring her back.
Still confused by Betty’s cold shoulder, Bob travels to New York to do the Harrison broadcast. Before going on the air, he catches Betty’s act and tries to persuade her to come back to Vermont. He even reveals the reason for Judy’s phony engagement. But before he learns that Betty’s problem is with him, not Judy, Harrison arrives at the club and pulls him away. When the live show is broadcast, Betty sees it and realizes that Bob wanted to help his former general. Contrite, she returns to Pine Tree. At the inn, Waverly is greeted by dozens of men from the 151st Division, who serenade him. As his eyes tear up, snow begins to fall outside.
The show — and the season — are a smash, and Waverly is saved. Bob and Betty and Phil and Judy all profess their love and, dressed in Santa suits, sing “White Christmas” in front of a huge Christmas tree surrounded by elfin ballerinas. They end with the warm wish, “May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.”
Irving Berlin received an Oscar nomination for the song “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” It was the film’s only Academy Award nomination.
In addition to singing “White Christmas” in this film, Bing Crosby performed the tune in two other movies: Holiday Inn (1942) and Blue Skies (1946).
White Christmas was the biggest box office hit of 1954.
This was the third film in which Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen costarred, following Wonder Man (1945) and The Kid From Brooklyn (1946).
Director Michael Curtiz also made the blockbuster musical Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and the swashbuckling Errol Flynn classic The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Santa Claus (1959)
As celestial towers gleam and float along the stars, a narrator proclaims, "Away up in the heavens, far our in space, in a beautiful golden crystal palace right above the North Pole, lives a kind and jolly gentleman — Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas."
It’s about to be a yuletide like no other. In his jolly Toyland, Santa (José Elías Moreno) is preparing for his annual gift-giving flight with his helpers, who represent all the countries of the world. Unbeknownst to Santa, while the celebration is going on, Lucifer dispatches his best demon, Pitch (José Luis Aguirre), from Hades to corrupt the children of the world.
“If you don’t succeed in making all the children on Earth do evil, you’ll be punished,” Lucifer warns Pitch. “Instead of red-hot coals you’ll eat chocolate ice cream.”
Pitch persuades three young brothers to throw rocks at a robot Santa in a window. One of the stones hits the real Santa. Thanks to his “magic observatory,” Santa knows who’s behind the bad deed but can do nothing. “I can only go down to Earth on Christmas Eve,” he laments.
Pitch targets two other children. One is Billy (Antonio Díaz Conde), whose“daddy is quite rich.” The other is a poor girl named Lupita (Lupita Quezadas), who wants nothing more than to own a doll. Santa employs his advanced technology — which he uses to keep track of who’s naughty and who’s nice — to stay on top of the situation. He glimpses Lupita’s nightmares, which are caused by Pitch and involve giant dancing dolls beckoning her to steal. He also watches as a trio of nasty brothers plan to break into Billy's home and make off with his Christmas presents.
Finally, it’s Christmas Eve, and Santa can leave his palace. Before going to Earth he’s given two gifts by his loyal friend Merlin the Wizard (Armando Arriola): a sleeping powder and a magic flower that lets him become invisible and teleport into homes. Santa makes sure he has the mystical key that can open any door on Earth, then flies off with his robot reindeer.
On Earth, the three boys plot to capture Santa and steal his presents. At the same time, Pitch tries to waylay Santa’s delivery of toys to Mexico City. While all this is going on, Santa manages to reconcile Billy with his neglectful parents, though he loses the magic teleportation flower. Atop a city roof, the scheming brothers spot Santa's sleigh flying through the sky. They race indoors, only to find coal where their own gifts were expected. Pitch watches, delighted, as the boys fight. Lesson learned: Don’t mess with Santa! But Santa’s not yet in the clear. Outside a home, he’s pursued by a vicious dog and forced to climb a tree. When Pitch arrives, he reports a fire at the house, hoping to publicly embarrass Santa. But Santa gets the dog to run off by tossing a toy cat from his bag, and Pitch is doused with water from the firefighters’ hoses, causing him to run off. With Christmas saved, Santa leaves a doll for the well-behaved Lupita and soars back to his castle.
Santa Claus was made in Mexico by Cinematográfica Calderón. It was dubbed in English and released in the U.S. for special children’s matinees.
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964)
It’s the middle of Septober, and green-skinned Martian parents are concerned their children are spending too much time watching television broadcasts from Earth. The Martian leader, Kimar (Leonard Hicks), and his wife, Momar (Leila Martin), have seen this worrisome change in their own children, Bomar (Chris Month) and Girmar (Pia Zadora). So Kimar and his council chiefs head to the misty Thunder Forest and consult Chochem (Carl Don), an 800-year-old sage. He says youth are rebelling against the strict Martian emphasis on conformity and scholarship. “We have no children on Mars,” he laments. “They have children’s bodies but with adult minds. They do not have a childhood.”
The solution, says Chochem, is to let them enjoy the Earth holiday of Christmas — which happens to be coming up in just a few weeks. Kimar reluctantly agrees, and decides that the best way to accomplish this is to kidnap Santa The Martians saucer to Earth, avoiding an attack by the Strategic Air Command. Once there, the Martians are confused by the many costumed Santas they see. To help find the real one, they consult Earth children Billy (Victor Stiles) and Betty (Donna Conforti). “He’s in his workshop at the North Pole,” Billy informs them.
Afraid that the children will inform the authorities of their presence, the Martians abduct them and fly north. At the Pole, aided by a mighty silver robot, Torg, the Martians enter Santa’s workshop and are confronted by angry elves. “You can’t take him now!” one protests. “It’s too near Christmas!” The Martians don’t care. They fire a paralyzing ray at Santa’s helpers and Mrs. Claus (Doris Rich), and return to Mars with a captive Santa (John Call) —and the two children. Back on Mars, Voldar (Vincent Beck) has decided he needs to sabotage Kimar’s Christmas mission. He believes that Santa — along with everything he stands for — is an insult to the great Martian tradition of hard work and regimentation. When the captives reach Mars, their first order of business is to build a toy factory. Voldar tries to undermine their efforts, going so far as to alter the machines’ programming so only misfit toys are produced. Meanwhile, Kimar’s associate Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) is so smitten by the concept of Christmas that he decides to put on one of Santa’s extra suits and go to the factory tomake toys. But crafty Voldar is waiting. He kidnaps Dropo, thinking he’s the real Santa, and imprisons him in a cave. Fortunately, Dropo is able to escape, and Kimar has Voldar arrested.
Impressed, the real Santa suggests that Dropo become the Martian Santa. Kimar agrees, and returns Santa and the children to Earth.
The names of the Martian leader’s family are contractions of English words: Kimar is “King Martian,” Momaris “Mother Martian,” Gimar is “Girl Martian” and Bomaris “Boy Martian.”
This film marks the first cinematic appearance of Mrs. Claus. She made her literary debut in 1849, in the story A Christmas Legend by James Rees.
Most of the movie was shot at Michael Myerberg Studios on Long Island, in New York. The studios had been built in an abandoned airplane hangar — the same hangar where Charles Lindbergh’s plane The Spirit of St. Louis was kept the night before its historic transatlantic flight in 1927.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) lives in Christmastown, or what the locals call the North Pole. He knows that if he lives to be 100, he'll never forget the big storm that once jeopardized Christmas. He also knows that he’ll never forget how it was saved — and who saved it! While drifting through Christmas Tree Forest, Sam tells the story ... Mr. and Mrs. Claus live in the only castle in town. Santa (Stan Francis) has lost weight while preparing presents for all the boys and girls of the world, and Mrs. Claus is worried about her husband.
“Who ever heard of a skinny Santa?” Mrs. Claus says. “Eat, eat!”
Sam himself isn’t worried about Santa. He always packs on the pounds in time. What worries Sam is the storm that threatens the flying reindeer who pull Santa’s sleigh: Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.
“But,” Sam warmly challenges his audience, “Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?”
As the tale goes, Rudolph is now a couple years old. His father, Donner (Paul Kligman) — Santa’s lead reindeer — and his mother are troubled by their newborn's shiny glowing red nose. "His beak blinks like a blinking beacon!" Donner barks, his antlers curling.
When Santa visits Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards), he too is concerned about the reindeer ever becoming a member of his sleigh team. Donner decides to keep his son’s luminous nose covered with dirt. As Rudolph grows, Donner teaches him the ropes, including how to avoid the Christmas-hating Abominable Snow Monster of the North. But Rudolph isn’t the only “misfit” in Christmastown. Hermey the Elf (Paul Soles) doesn’t have the same love for making toys as the other elves in Santa’s workshop. He wants to be a dentist.
“You’re an elf, and elves make toys,” the Head Elf (Carl Banas) scolds. “Get to work!”
Hermey decides to stick it out and finish his job — though he begins giving the dolls teeth.
Meanwhile, Donner grows more and more self-conscious about Rudolph’s red nose, until one day he places a black fitted cover on it. The disguise is so tight it makes Rudolph sound congested! But his father insists it remain on during Santa’s annual reindeer games.
Back at the castle, the elves practice their seasonal carol. Santa feels it needs more work. The elves blamed their poor performance on the absence of Hermey, who’s still at work in the shop, where he gets another scolding by the Head Elf. Tired of being untrue to himself, Hermey grabs his dentistry book and sneaks out the window.
At the reindeer games, Rudolph and the other hopefuls gather for the first challenge: takeoff. While Coach Comet watches each young reindeer flop instead of fly, Rudolph is distracted by a fetching, fair-furred doe with a red polka dot bow. Her name is Clarice (Janis Orenstein), and Rudolph trots off to talk to her.
“Is something wrong with your nose?” Clarice politely asks. “I mean, you talk kinda funny.”
Just before Rudolph runs back to practice, Clarice calls him “cute” and promises to walk home with him.
“I’m cute!” Rudolph gushes, as he flies through the frosty air. “I’m cuuute!”
Coach Comet is impressed with Rudolph’s hang time, but while Rudolph rejoices, his false nose slips off. All the other reindeer laugh and called him names. Comet sends the young buck home and disqualifies him from joining in any more reindeer games.
Clarice assures Rudolph that someday his dreams will come true. Their walk home is disrupted by Clarice’s father, who doesn’t approve of Rudolph’s nose. Feeling blue, Rudolph plops down on a snowbank as the hidden Hermey pops up from it. As the peculiar pair become fast friends, they notice the Abominable Snow Monster lurking in the distance. Hermey is concerned that Rudolph’s red nose has attracted the monster, and the boys hurry off.
The following day, Rudolph and Hermey encounter Yukon Cornelius (Larry D. Mann), a prospector looking for silver and gold. He offers to give them a lift on his sled. And just in time — “Bumble,” as Cornelius calls the Snow Monster, has found them! Cornelius chisels off a section of iceberg to use as a raft, and the Arctic trio float to safety.
Naturally, Rudolph’s parents are distraught at his absence, so Donner goes alone to find him. Defying Donner’s orders, Mrs. Donner and Clarice conduct their own search.
The ice raft emerges from the “thick-as-peanut-butter” fog and crashes into the glacial shoreline of the Island of Misfit Toys. Circling above his kingdom is the winged lion, King Moonracer. Rudolph, Hermey and Cornelius are stopped by the island’s official sentry, Charlie-in-the-Box (Alfie Scopp), who’s constantly cranky because he wasn’t given the more popular name Jack. Additional misfit toys appear, including a spotted elephant, a train with square wheels and a jelly-squirting water pistol.
Rudolph wishes to join them, but needs the king’s permission to remain on the island.
“That would not be possible,” Moonracer proclaims. “This island is for toys alone.”
Rudolph promises to tell Santa that the abandoned toys need a new home, and Moonracer allows them to spend the night. Fearing the Abominable Snow Monster will return because of his bright nose, Rudolph sneaks off, leaving his friends behind.
Time passes, and Rudolph’s antlers grow as he travels the endless wilderness. With renewed confidence, Rudolph returns home — but, sadly, there’s no sign of his family. With Christmas Eve only two days away, Santa worries that his sleigh will be grounded without Donner.
“I’ll find them, sir,” Rudolph promises. “I’ll find them all!”
Without warning, the tree-bending storm of storms hits, but that doesn’t deter Rudolph. Finally he finds his beloved family — in the snow monster’s cave!
As he enters, the Bumble is gripping Clarice like a candy cane. “Put her down!” the red-nosed hero yells before Bumble clobbers him with an icicle. Fortunately, Hermey and Cornelius have tracked Rudolph to Christmastown, where Sam the Snowman promptly fills them in. Hermey lures the hungry Bumble from his cave by pretending to be a pig, and Cornelius drops a boulder on the beast’s head.
The Donner party is about to exit when the angry Bumble appears at the mouth of the cave. Thanks to Hermey, though, the monster’s mouth no longer has teeth. Cornelius charges the still powerful, dangerous Bumble and both plunge from a cliff.
Back in Christmastown, the residents praise the returning heroes. Incredibly, Cornelius bursts into the castle with Bumble, who cordially places the star atop Santa’s tree. When Rudolph asks how Cornelius survived the fall, the mountain man confesses, "Bumbles bounce!"
The elves work to finish the toys, and Mrs. Claus finishes fattening Mr. Claus. But the nasty weather forces him to cancel Christmas. While making the announcement, Santa is blinded by Rudolph’s nose — and has an idea!
“Rudolph, with your nose so bright,”Santa beckons, “won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
With Rudolph to light their journey, the team rejoices and readies the sleigh.
“First stop, the Island of Misfit Toys,” says Santa as they take off into the night.
Believing Rudolph forgot them, the misfit toys are overjoyed to hear Santa’s sleigh bells approaching.
“And Rudolph is leading the way!” Charlie-in-the-Box exclaims.
The toys pile into Santa’s gift bag and the sleigh goes up, up and away. And Rudolph, of course, goes down in history!
In 1939, composer Johnny Marks wrote the song “Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer.” Singer Gene Autry’s version went to No. 1 in December 1949.
The 55-minute TV movie was filmed using stop-motion animation; each pose of the jointed hand puppets was captured on a single frame of film.
Several sequels were made, including Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976), Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys (2001).
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
On a snowy December day, a distraught Charlie Brown (voiced by Peter Robbins) and his friend Linus van Pelt (Christopher Shea) are walking toward the frozen pond to ice skate with other local kids.
“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus,” Charlie confesses. “Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”
Despite enjoying everything about Christmas, Charlie is depressed. Linus criticizes his friend for souring such a happy holiday.
“Maybe Lucy’s right,” Linus says of his older sister. “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.”
Charlie’s mood doesn’t improve at the pond. His dog, Snoopy (Bill Melendez), gets rambunctious and knocks him against a tree that buries him in snow. The unhappy Charlie Brown is now even unhappier. At home, Charlie checks the snow-covered mailbox for Christmas cards, but it’s empty, which upsets him even more. He crosses paths with Violet Gray (Sally Dryer) and sarcastically thanks her for sending a card. Violet turns up her nose.
Meanwhile, his schoolmates are enjoying wintertime activities, like catching snowflakes on their tongues and throwing snowballs at a can. Charlie stops by Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help 5¢” stand, pays his nickel, and reveals his Christmas anxiety.
Lucy (Tracy Stratford) suggests he direct their Christmas play as a way to lift his spirits. His eyes light up, but he immediately doubts his abilities. Lucy promises to assist. She also tells him she understands his disappointment, admitting that she’s dissatisfied with the toys and clothes she gets every year. Charlie asks what she really wants.
"Real estate," she says.
While walking home, Charlie is outraged that Snoopy is decorating his doghouse for a neighborhood Christmas contest. Charlie’s younger sister, Sally (Kathy Steinberg), begs his help writing out her detailed wish list to Santa.
“Make it easy on yourself,” Sally advises in the closing of her letter, “Just send money.”
At play rehearsal, Lucy announces that Charlie will be directing. The students are disappointed. While Charlie describes his artistic methods, the disinterested kids just dance through his speech.
Lucy assigns everyone roles. Stylish Frieda (Anne Altieri) and filthy Pig-Pen (Geoffrey Orstein) are innkeepers, blanket-clutching Linus and stiff Shermy (Chris Doran) are shepherds, Sally is Linus’ wife and Snoopy gets to play all the barn animals.
Lucy decides she’ll play the Christmas queen. “Are you going to let all this beauty go to waste?” she glowers at Charlie.
Charlie critiques the opening piano number played by Schroeder (also Chris Doran) then settles other disputes among the cast. He also decides the production needs a Christmas tree. He leaves Lucy in charge and takes Linus with him to find one. At a farm, Charlie picks a small branching twig fastened to a wooden base.
Back at rehearsal, Lucy and Schroeder debate music. Charlie returns and places the shedding little shrub on the piano. The cast gives him grief for his sad tree selection, prompting him to wail, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus takes center stage and delivers the answer with a Bible verse. “...For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy,” Linus recites, “which shall be to all people.”
Charlie quietly takes the tree and exits the auditorium. He walks peacefully in the crisp, starry, silent night. Recalling Linus’ words, Charlie travels the snow-covered route home.
His friends follow.
Charlie sees a first-place ribbon pinned to Snoopy’s doghouse. He takes a red ornament and hangs it on his tree, causing the sprig to sag to the ground.
“I’ve killed it,” Charlie laments. “Everything I touch gets ruined.”
As Charlie walks away, his friends converge around the simple, slumping tree. Linus supports it by wrapping his trusty blanket around the base. The others decorate and begin caroling. Charlie reappears and is stunned, and happy now, as his friends shout, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”
This 25-minute TV special was the first animated Peanuts project.
Coca-Cola’s ad agency came up with the idea for the film. References to Coke have since been removed.
All of the dialogue was voiced by children.
The beloved special won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program.
The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966)
Lawyer Sam Whipple (Paul Tripp) wishes every day could be Christmas. While out hanging ornaments in his sleepy town, Sam is approached by a glum older gentleman (Alberto Rabagliati). “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were Santa Claus,” Sam says to the familiar stranger.
Santa confirms Sam’s suspicion and discloses that “multizillionaire” Mr. Phineas T. Prune (Rossano Brazzi) has bought the North Pole. If Santa doesn’t pay a year’s worth of rent by midnight Christmas Eve, Prune will evict the festive family and confiscate all toys to cover the debt.
Sam wonders why Santa came to him. “You’re the only child who wrote me a letter after Christmas,” Santa explains.
At the North Pole, Sam convinces Prune to cancel the debt.
But, Prune says, “there’s one condition, Mr. Claus. You must promise never again to give Christmas presents to children.”
Unwilling to call off Christmas, Sam and Santa hatch a new plan. Santa Claus comes to town and gets a job playing himself at Prim’s Department Store. Sam coaches Santa — who’s used to dealing with children only when they’re asleep — and he earns enough money to pay the debt. Prune tricks them, however, by buying the store. He fires Santa, destroys the store’s toys and docks Santa’s pay.
On Christmas Eve, with just two hours left till midnight, a local boy helps Santa out of his jam.
"You’ve been doing things for us for a long time,” the boy says. “It’s time we start doing something for you.”
Kids in pajamas flood into the snowy town square with bags of change for Santa.The clock begins to toll midnight, but on the eleventh stroke, Santa arrives at the North Pole and pays Prune. Sam and Mrs. Claus (Lidia Brazzi) join Santa on the sleigh and deliver all the presents.
The final one is for Prune.
The bitter miser receives the toy boat he’s wanted since age five. He also discovers that his anger at Santa was misplaced. It seems his boyhood home was omitted from gift-giving due to a filing error at the North Pole.
Prune wishes all a MerryChristmas, gives the boat to a boy, and throws a Christmas celebration at his home.
Actor Paul Tripp (Sam Whipple) adapted the screenplay from his book by the same name.
The movie was shot entirely in Rome, with mostly Italian actors. It was dubbed in English later.
Director Brazzi is best known for starring as Emile in the Rodgers and Hammerstein film South Pacific (1958).
The original Italian title is Il Natale che quasi non fu.
In the Simpsons episode “Skinner’s Sense of Snow,” Seymour Skinner shows the film The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, But Then Was.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Living in the snowy mountains, the merry Whos of Who-ville are prepping for Christmas. The townsfolk, tall and small, trim the tree and lavishly decorate their neighborhood.
Above, the furry, green Grinch (voiced by Boris Karloff) sneers down on Who-ville from his Mount Crumpit cave.
Many believe he hates Christmas because his heart is too small, but in truth, he can’t stand the noise. After 53 years of watching the Whos celebrate Christmas, the sour-faced Grinch has had enough.
“I must find some way to keep Christmas from coming,” the Grinch snarls to his dog, Max. The more he thinks about the upcoming celebration, the grouchier the Grinch gets.
“They’ll feast on Who-pudding and rare Who-roast beast,” he gripes. “Oh, roast beast is a feast I can’t stand in the least!”
But it’s the caroling the Grinch hates most of all. That’s when the Grinch gets an idea — and it’s a mean one. He disguises himself as Santa Claus and Max as a reindeer. Then he loads empty sacks onto his sleigh and glides down the mountain to rob Who-ville of its Christmas cheer.
In the middle of the night, the Grinch slinks down a chimney into his first house. He makes off with all stockings, presents and decorations. He repeats the process in every Who-ville home, getting craftier as he goes. He even clears out a family’s refrigerated feast, including their last can of Who-hash!
While the Grinch is pilfering their tree, a single Christmas ornament rolls across the floor and settles next to the bed of little Cindy-Lou Who (June Foray). The toddler wakes and investigates the living room commotion.
“Santy Claus, why?” she asks the Grinch.
The Grinch fibs, telling Cindy-Lou he’s going to repair the tree’s blown light at his workshop. He puts her to bed, then sneaks out and cleans out the rest of town.
Dawn approaches as struggling Max pulls the Grinch’s overburdened sleigh 10,000 feet back up Mount Crumpit.
“The Whos down in Who-ville will all cry boohoo,” the Grinch says, grinning with joy. “That’s a noise that I simply must hear.”
Still in his Santa outfit, the Grinch stands on the ledge and listens for any sound of sadness. Unexpectedly, he hears the Whos singing their classic carol.
It’s then that the real spirit of Christmas dawns on the Grinch. It is not about things, it’s about goodwill.
He sleighs back down to the town, distributes everything he has stolen, and carves the roast at the feast. Little Cindy-Lou even gives the grateful Max a piece.
The animated TV special was based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), published in 1957.
Early in his career, Boris Karloff played the monstrous title characters in Frankenstein (1931) and The Mummy (1932). Grinch earned Karloff a Grammy award for Best Recording for Children.
Even after discovering that all their presents have vanished, the Whos join hands and sing a joyous carol.
The grump crudely disguises himself as Santa and his dog, Max, as a reindeer.
June Foray is best known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel.
Voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft — who spent decades voicing Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot, Tony the Tiger — sang “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Geisel wrote the song’s lyrics.
There were two official Grinch sequels: Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977) and The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982).
The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
Families are fleeing ancient Rome to avoid the terrible new tax imposed by Emperor Caesar Augustus, a narrator (Greer Garson) explains. Among those crossing the desert are orphan boy Aaron (voiced by Teddy Eccles) and his donkey, Samson; camel, Joshua; and lamb, Baba. Aaron keeps his animals entertained by dancing and playing a drum he wears on a string around his neck.
Watching the little drummer boy from behind a sand dune are the unscrupulous Ben Haramed (José Ferrer), king of the desert showmen, and his sidekick, Ali.
“With this marvel in my show caravan, I will be as rich as Solomon!” Ben says about the drummer boy.
The men seize Aaron and his herd and explain what fortunes await them in Jerusalem. But Aaron wants nothing to do with the scheme.
Why?“I hate people,” the hot-tempered boy argues. “All people!”
Though Ben feels the same as Aaron, eventually he wins the boy over to his plan. Deep down, perhaps the man reminds Aaron of his late father.
In a flashback, we see that Aaron was raised on a farm. On his last birthday, he received a present from his parents (June Foray and Paul Frees).
“A drum!” the boy exclaims. “My very own drum.”
Animals are attracted to the joyous beat Aaron plays. But, sadly, not long after Aaron receives the gift, bandits raid the farm. Only Aaron and the three animals escape alive.
In Jerusalem, Ben organizes an impromptu street performance. First he announces tumblers Meshaw and Jamilie, then juggler Ali of Arabia. Then he prepares to introduce his latest act.
“Boy, you perform next,” he tells his new recruit. “The crowd is restless.”
After being given last-minute pointers — as well as a painted-on smile — Aaron grabs his drum and enters the performance area with his animals. The crowd goes wild, but their joy triggers Aaron’s still- simmering dislike of people. He yells at the spectators, throws his drum down and storms off.
The angry crowd runs the rest of the entertainers out of town.
In the desert that night, the group spies a caravan of three kings, each of whom intently stares at the bright, splendid Star of Bethlehem shining in the sky. This gives Ben his own bright idea.
“If you give this one performance, half the money shall be yours,” he tells Aaron, gripping the boy’s shoulders.
Aaron agrees, and they approach the three kings — Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar — and offer their services.
But the three kings have no time to make merry, and continue to follow the star. Then, suddenly, one of their camels collapses, and Ben greedily sells them Aaron’s camel, Joshua.
The upset little drummer boy and his remaining two pets leave. Inadvertently they also follow the star to the gates of Bethlehem, where they’re joined by shepherds.
The boy sees the royal caravan — and Joshua. As Aaron runs to his beloved camel, a Roman chariot races past and crushes his loyal lamb, Baba. With the animal in his arms, Aaron pushes through the crowd toward the destination of the other travelers — a manger. He sees Gaspar kneeling beside a newborn. The king stands, and Aaron begs him to help Baba.
Gaspar says sadly that there’s nothing he can do.
“But there is a king among kings who would save your little friend,” he adds.
Gaspar directs the boy to the newborn. Although he lacks a gift, Aaron lays down his lifeless lamb, approaches the infant, and plays his drum for him.
“Your gift, little drummer boy,” Gaspar reassures Aaron, “given out of the simple desperation of a pure love, is the one favored above all.”
Baba is restored to life and jumps into Aaron’s arms. Aaron is cured too: The beauty of what has happened finally heals the boy’s deep pain.
The 25-minute special aired on December 19, 1968 on NBC.
The same filmmakers made Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).
In the sequel, The Little Drummer Boy, Book II (1976), Aaron teams up with Melchior to protect ceremonial silver bells. This TV special earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Special.
José Ferrer and Greer Garson won Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress in previous roles.
Frosty The Snowman (1969)
According to legend, explains a narrator (Jimmy Durante), when the first winter snowfall arrives around Christmas, it creates a magical snow.
It is one such occasion, and students squeeze together around their classroom windows to watch the falling flakes and trace shapes on the foggy windows.
“Children, back to your seats,” their teacher says, tapping a ruler on her desk.“The snow can wait.”
The teacher introduces the class to Professor Hinkle (voiced by Billy De Wolfe), who’s also a part-time magician. He removes his silk hat, and a rabbit named Hocus Pocus pops out of it. The frisky bunny hops away, taking the hat with it.
At 3 o’clock, the students run outside to play in the fresh snow and begin building a snowman. Little Karen (June Foray) crafts his head. The children put a broom in his hand and add a corncob pipe, a button nose and two eyes made of coal. All they need now is a name.
The group tosses out several suggestions — Harold, Bruce, Christopher Columbus, Oatmeal. Karen suggests “Frosty.”
“Yeah! Frosty it is,” a red- headed boy proclaims. “Frosty the Snowman!”
As the children join hands and dance around their creation, the school door flings open and out hops Hocus Pocus in Hinkle’s hat, followed by Hinkle. The hat is swept up in a blustery breeze. Karen catches it and places it on Frosty’s head, triggering a dazzling array of sparkles. All at once, Frosty (Jackie Vernon) comes to life before their very eyes.
“Happy birthday!” Frosty says to the startled children.
Just then, another breeze brings the hat back to Hinkle and renders Frosty motionless.
The children beg Hinkle for the hat, but he refuses. “If that hat is magic, I want it back,” he says.
But later, as Hinkle strolls through town, Hocus Pocus pulls a fast one, emerging from his hat, leaping off the magician’s head with it and taking it all the way back to the school playground.
When the children place the hat again on Frosty’s head, he begins to dance around, juggle and even count to five. But the rising temperature is making Frosty sweat.
“When the temperature goes up, I start to melt,” he explains to Karen.
The children suggest taking him to the town square, where he can catch a train to the home of Santa Claus himself — the North Pole. At the station, Karen asks for a ticket to the North Pole. The cashier calculates the crazy route and the cost, but the kids can’t afford it. Determined to hurry Frosty on his way, the children pack the snowman into a refrigerated boxcar filled with chilled desserts. Karen and Hocus Pocus also climb in.
Once they reach their destination, the travelers are unprepared fo the icy wilderness. Hocus Pocus persuades the forest creatures to build them a fire. Frosty, of course, keeps his distance. The rabbit suggests sending Santa an SOS.
Hinkle surprises the campers in the middle of the night — he’d clung to the underside of the train and gone north with them. When Frosty sails down the mountain and brings Karen to a warm greenhouse, Hinkle shuts them in.
“The minute you’re all melted, the hat will be mine,” Hinkle cackles.
Santa receives the urgent message and follows Frosty’s trail, but arrives too late. Karen is weeping beside the puddled remains of the beloved snowman.
“He was made out of Christmas snow,” Santa reassures her. “Christmas snow can never disappear completely.”
Santa opens the nursery door. A cool breeze sweeps through and magically rebuilds the snowman. Hocus Pocus hops over with the hat, which Hinkle grabs for yet again. After Santa vows never to bring Hinkle another present if he touches the hat, Hinkle chickens out and runs off.
Santa places the hat on Frosty’s head, and the jolly, happy soul comes to life.
Santa prepares to bring Karen home in his sleigh. The little girl cries at leaving Frosty, but the snowman agrees to come back again and waves goodbye.
As promised, he returns every year at Christmas.
Composers Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson wrote the song “Frosty the Snowman.” It was first recorded in 1950 by singing cowboy Gene Autry, who also recorded the immortal “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
The 25-minute TV special first aired on December 7, 1969, on CBS.
It was the final starring TV role for the legendary Jimmy Durante.
Two official sequels were made: Frosty’s Winter Wonderland (1976) and Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July (1979).
It's 1860, and almost everyone in London is full of good cheer.
“Christmas children peep into Christmas windows...” sings merry but impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit (David Collings) as he and his youngest children shop on Christmas Eve. They’re buying their very modest Christmas dinner as the children look longingly at toys they can’t afford.
That’s because Cratchit’s employer, Scrooge (Albert Finney), is a miser, a perpetually cross man who croons, “I hate people!” as he pushes his way through the crowded streets. He’s even cheaper and nastier than his partner, Jacob Marley (Alec Guinness), who died years before.
At his dreary home, Scrooge is having a soupy stew for dinner when Marley’s ghost visits and warns him that he’s doomed to a miserable afterlife unless he changes his ways.
Marley promises that three spirits will pay Scrooge a visit. And to prove just how nasty things can be for grim ghosts, Marley takes his still-living partner soaring over the city, singing “See the phantoms,”as he points out the many lost, unhappy spirits.
Back in his bed, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Dame Edith Evans), a distinguished lady who takes him to happier times — such as his long-ago courtship of lovely Isabel Fezziwig (Suzanne Neve) and a Christmas party thrown by a former employer, Mr. Fezziwig (Laurence Naismith).
Next, Scrooge is visited by the big, boisterous Ghost of Christmas Present (Kenneth More), who sings, “I like life!” and shows him the joy at the home of his nephew Fred (Michael Medwin), who’s struggling yet manages to enjoy the season with his wife and friends. The spirit also shows Scrooge the more somber life of the Cratchits, with their lame son, Tiny Tim (Richard Beaumont).
Finally, the shrouded, eerie Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come carries Scrooge to the future, where he discovers that Tiny Tim has died. He also sees everyone who owed him money singing, “Thank you very much!” The reason? Scrooge has managed to do “the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me,” as one debtor sings: The miser has died!
After tumbling into his own open grave, Scrooge takes a quick trip to a sizzling underworld, where he receives a final warning from Marley to reform.
Magically, Scrooge wakes up in his own bed and vows, in song, to “begin again.” He starts by sending a huge turkey to the Cratchits, then buys a costume and toys and parades through the streets as Father Christmas. He ends up at the Cratchits’ home, where he hands the children all the toys they longed for and promises to give his clerk a raise and help find doctors who can cure Tim.
In the end, attaching his Father Christmas beard to the lion door knocker of his apartment, Scrooge heads off to Christmas dinner with the nephew he’s woefully neglected.
The film is based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.
Albert Finney was offered the role only after it was turned down by Richard Harris and Rex Harrison.
At 34, Finney was younger than the actor playing his nephew, 47-year-old Michael Medwin.
Finney won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
The film got Oscar nominations for Best Score, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction and for the song “Thank You Very Much.”
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (1970)
As children everywhere prepare for Christmas, Special Delivery Kluger, or "S.D." for short (voiced by Fred Astaire), delivers their letters to Santa (Mickey Rooney). Aside from the usual toy requests, Santa also gets many personal questions, and S.D., an expert on the subject of Santa’s life, usually answers them.
As S.D. tells it, Santa’s story begins long ago in dreary Sombertown.
One cold night, a baby is found abandoned on the front stoop of the home of Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger (Paul Frees).
“Protect him from the dangers of the Mountain of the Whispering Winds,”a note tucked into his swaddling blanket reads. “He will be exceptional if only given the love he needs.” A tag on the baby’s necklace identifies him as “Claus.”
Instead of caring for the infant, the selfish, grumpy mayor decides to send Claus to an orphanage. During the stormy trip, Claus’ sleigh is blown onto a dreaded mountain where the wicked Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn) lives. Luckily, animals find the baby and take him to a tranquil elfin hideout called Rainbow River Valley, where they deposit him on the Kringle family doorstep.
Dingle Kringle and his elf brothers, Wingle, Bingle, Tingle and Zingle, bring Claus to Tanta, the Elf Queen, who adopts the child and names him Kris. The elves lovingly raise Kris and teach him the very special art of toy making. In time, Kris learns that the Winter Warlock has made it impossible to deliver toys to children on the other side of the mountain. He solemnly promises Tanta that one day he’ll transport toys safely over.
When that day comes, Tanta gives Kris an official red and white Kringle suit. Kris grabs a satchel of toys and marches through the dismal forest near the foot of the Warlock’s mountain, where he meets a friendly penguin, Topper.
“Who nears my mountain?” Warlock booms. “Go back or you are doooomed!” Kris and Topper scurry safely across the mountain. Unaware that Mayor Meisterburger has outlawed toys, Kris walks the drab Sombertown streets, offering presents to the sad children. Their worried teacher, Miss Jessica (Robie Lester), tries to stop Kris, but his gift of a china doll makes her think twice.
When the mayor sees the toys, he arrests the children, and Kris is trapped by the Warlock’s menacing tree. Kris hands the Warlock a "choo-choo" toy, which melts his icy heart. Kris teaches the misguided wizard how to be good, and the Warlock schools him in magic.
Miss Jessica tracks down Kris to give him letters from the Sombertown children. Kris promises to return the following evening with more toys.
The furious mayor orders all doors and windows locked. That doesn’t stop Kris, who uses the chimneys! The mayor has his men search every house. After they capture the Kringles, Warlock and Topper, Kris is forced to surrender.
Jessica petitions for their freedom, but the mayor refuses. Secretly she feeds Kris’ eight reindeer magic corn, which gives them the power of flight. Kris and the captives hop on their backs and soar away.
Kris goes into hiding, growing a beard and adopting an alias: Claus. He marries Jessica, who becomes Mrs.Claus. The Clauses and the Kringles move to the North Pole. Letters from around the world pour in, and Kris’ to-do list grows. He continues delivering outlawed presents, traveling at night to avoid detection. Eventually, he limits his risky deliveries to a single day a year.
The Burgermeisters’ reign finally ends, and the people of Sombertown declare Kris a saint. Even today, the Warlock continues to honor his friend every year with a snowy white Christmas.
Having wrapped up his history lesson, S.D. hurries to deliver the last batch of letters to Santa.
Composers John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie wrote “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” first performed in November 1934 by Eddie Cantor.
The 51-minute “Animagic” feature premiered on December 13, 1970, on ABC.
Fred Astaire reprised his role as postman S.D. in the holiday special The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ to Town (1977).
The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)
At the North Pole, Mrs. Claus (Shirley Booth) tells a story: It's Christmastime, and Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney) wakes up sick, tired and dreading the thought of riding in his sleigh.
Mrs. Claus sends for the doctor.
“Stay home in bed this year,” he tells her husband, adding that no one really believes in Santa any more.
Mrs. Claus disagrees, but Santa tells the elves the workshop will be closing.
Mrs. Claus briefly considers donning the red suit herself, but devises a better plan. She secretly tells two elves, Jingle and Jangle, to go with Vixen the reindeer and prove that Christmas spirit still exists.
When Santa discovers the trio is gone, he panics.
"I have to go," he says, playing into Mrs. Claus’ hands. “Those three won’t even get past the Miser brothers!”
The Misers are Snow Miser (Dick Shawn) and Heat Miser (George S. Irving), who’ve been waging a ferocious battle over who controls the weather.
Thankfully, young Vixen survives the dangerous passage, and the elves land safely in Southtown, USA. To maintain their cover, Jingle and Jangle disguise Vixen as a dog.
While the elves speak with Iggy, a boy who thinks believing in Santa is just kids stuff, a dogcatcher nabs Vixen.
Santa, in pursuit of the elves, also meets Iggy and convinces the boy to reconsider his beliefs. When Santa leaves, Iggy finds the elves and goes looking for Vixen.
At the mayor’s office, the elves promise to make it snow in Southtown if the mayor frees Vixen. Unbeknownst to them, Santa has already bailed out the reindeer.
Mrs. Claus shows up to help the elves and asks Snow Miser to make it snow in Southtown.
“The south is under the control of my stepbrother, Heat Miser,” the cooler brother says. “Every time I try to send a little refreshing snow down there, what does he do? He turns it in to rain.”
Mrs. Claus implores Heat Miser to cooperate. He agrees, provided he gets free rein in the North Pole for a day. Snow Miser refuses. Out of options, Mrs. Claus asks their mom — Mother Nature (Rhoda Mann) — to broker a deal. Meanwhile, Santa brings a tired Vixen home and stays with him.
Thanks to Mother Nature, snow falls in Southtown. Mrs. Claus and the elves share the miraculous headlines with Santa, including a news report saying Santa is “under the weather.” Children worldwide start sending him presents. One girl writes saying she’ll have a “blue Christmas” without him.
Convinced the children believe, Santa pulls himself together and delivers all the Christmas toys.
"Yearly, newly, faithfully, truly,” Mrs. Claus says, “somehow Santa Claus always comes.”
The Year Without a Santa Claus is based on the 1956 book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Phyllis McGinley.
The 51-minute “Animagic” film premiered on December 10, 1974 on ABC.
Mrs.Claus was Oscar-winner Shirley Booth’s final role.
A live-action remake in 2006 starred John Goodman as Santa and Delta Burke as his wife.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Grown-up Ralphie Parker (Jean Shepherd) enjoys reminiscing about Christmas 1940, a very special holiday he spent at his boyhood home in Hohman, Ind.
“Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas,” he recalls. “Around which the entire kid year revolved.” As he reminisces...
Young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) and the other children are congregating in front of the windows of Higbee’s Department Store to ogle the Christmas presents. Ralphie has his sights set on the Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle.
The 9-year-old just needs to convince his parents.
For starters, Ralphie cleverly sticks a Red Ryder ad into his mother’s copy of Look magazine. At breakfast, he lays it on thick — a little too thick.
“Flick says he saw some grizzly bears near Pulaski’s candy store,” Ralphie lies, hoping his parents will take the bait.
Mr. Parker (Darren McGavin) just stares at his son before leaving the table. Mrs. Parker (Melinda Dillon) asks Ralphie point-blank what he wants for Christmas.
Ralphie tells her. “No,” she calmly says. “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Often the victim of an overactive imagination, Ralphie fantasizes that he’s a rhinestone cowboy using his “Old Blue” rifle to protect his pioneer family from intruders.
Back in real life, Mr. Parker struggles with a broken-down car and a faulty furnace.
Ralphie and his younger brother, Randy (Ian Petrella), finish their breakfast and leave for school. Randy’s bulky snowsuit prevents him from lowering his arms. On their walk, the brothers are joined by pals Flick and Schwartz; they debate whether a protruding tongue would freeze to a metal pole in winter. At recess, Flick is challenged with a “triple-dog dare” and puts his tongue against the flagpole. It sticks.
The fire department and the police have to rescue the boy.
Back in the classroom, the teacher, Miss Shields (Tedde Moore), asks the students to write a theme paper titled, “What I Want for Christmas.” The assignment renews Ralphie’s hope of getting a Red Ryder rifle. He assumes that if he writes something brilliantly eloquent, she’ll sympathize.
On the way home, Ralphie and his friends square off against bully Farkus (Zack Ward) and his toady Grover Dill (Yano Anaya), whose frequent abuse usually lasts until their victims cry “Uncle!”
At home, Ralphie finishes his theme paper just as a very excited Mr. Parker comes home, waving a telegram he’s gotten alerting him of a prize delivery that night for naming great characters in American literature.
While seated at the family dinner table, Mr. Parker finally hears the anticipated knock on the door. He answers it, and a deliveryman rolls in a massive wooden crate marked “FRAGILE.”
Mr. Parker pries the box open and removes a mannequin leg dressed in a fishnet stocking and a high heel. Then he pulls out a lampshade. He assembles the lamp, clears a space by the front picture window, plugs it in, and runs outside to admire his award.
The display stops traffic.
Ralphie turns his theme paper in the following day. He imagines his A-plus essay will define Miss Shields’ career.
That night, the Parkers go Christmas tree shopping. Unfortunately, the car blows a tire. Ralphie tries to help his father change it, but when all the nuts and bolts go flying the into road, Ralphie drops the F-bomb.
“The queen mother of dirty words,” Ralphie recalls as narrator. “The f-dash-dash-dashword.”
Back at home, Ralphie sits with a bar of soap in his mouth while his mother grills him about where he heard the word. Ralphie rats on a friend instead of telling her he learned it from his father.
While lying in bed, Ralphie imagines his parents sobbing because their punishments render him blind.
The next day, Ralphie’s mail- away Little Orphan Annie decoder pin arrives, accompanied by a Secret Circle signed letter. At the end of the next Annie radio episode, Ralphie uses the code breaker to solve an important secret message: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.”
That night, Mrs. Parker “accidentally” shatters Mr. Parker’s prized lamp. He buries the leg next to the garage.
On the final day of school before the cherished Christmas break, Ralphie gets his graded theme paper. He opens the booklet and sees two notations from the teacher — a “C+” and “P.S., You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ralphie envisions Miss Shields as a wicked witch, and his gossiping mother standing over her dressed in a jester outfit.
On the way home, a moody Ralphie runs into Farkus and Grover. Denied his dream, Ralphie beats the bully to mush.
In a final attempt to obtain the rifle, Ralphie makes his case to none other than Santa at Higbee’s.
“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” Santa says, and boots Ralphie down the exit chute.
Ralphie is still hopeful when he wakes up to a white Christmas morning. After carefully inspecting his presents under the tree, he tears open a big box, hoping it’s his Red Ryder air rifle. Instead, he finds a handmade pink rabbit costume from his Aunt Clara. Mrs. Parker tells him to put it on.
A dejected Ralphie and his parents are sitting on the sofa when Mr. Parker mentions there’s one final present hiding behind the desk. Ralphie unwraps it.
His Red Ryder! He loads it with BBs and runs outside to play.
The first shot ricochets off the target, striking Ralphie below his right eye, knocking his glasses off. While searching for them, he hears a crunch underfoot. Ralphie tells his mom that an icicle broke off and struck him — and she buys it.
Meanwhile, the neighbor’s dogs invade the Parker home and eat their Christmas turkey.
And yet, with surprising Christmas cheer, Mr. Parker announces that all’s well — they’ll go out to eat.
The Parker Christmas concludes with dinner at a Chinese restaurant — the only one open on the holiday — and caroling by the well-intentioned waitstaff. The main course is Peking duck with its head still on, which the owner kindly hacks off at the table.
Ralphie goes to bed that night clutching his cherished Red Ryder.
“My oiled blue-steel beauty,” the adult Ralphie recalls. “The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received, or would ever receive.”
Writer Jean Shepherd adapted the TV movie screenplay from his own published works In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash (1966) and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories (1971).
Peter Billingsley beat out thousands of actors who auditioned to play Ralphie.
Jack Nicholson was up for the role of Mr. Parker.
Hohman, Ind., is fictional. The town is named after Hohman Ave. in Shepherd’s Indiana hometown of Hammond.
The Parker house, located at 3159 West 11th St. in Cleveland, Ohio, became a museum called A Christmas Story House in 2006.
Made on a budget of just $3 million, the film became a surprise hit, grossing $20 million.
The film spawned several adaptations, including Broadway’s A Christmas Story: The Musical (2012) and the TV special A Christmas Story Live! (2017).
The Night They Saved Christmas (1984)
An oil company is blasting the North Pole to bits!
Prospective oil wells keep coming up dry, and project manager Michael Baldwin (Paul Le Mat) is given a week to turn things around.
At the office, he gets a visit from Ed (Paul Williams), who’s Santa’s chief elf. Ed pressures Michael to cease operations — specifically the dynamite used to keep the drills ice-free.
“If you continue, there’s a very good chance you’re going to blow up Santa Claus,” Ed tells him.
Believing the warning to be a prank, Michael brushes it off. Ed shows up at Michael’s house and takes his wife, Claudia (Jaclyn Smith), and their children David (Scott Grimes), Marianne (Laura Jacoby) and C.B. (R.J. Williams), to see Santa (Art Carney) in North Pole City. Claudia contacts Michael using a special phone at the gates of the city.
“You’re talking into a candy cane and you’re going to go to the North Pole?” Michael exclaims before the connection’s lost.
Traveling by sleigh, the group enters the city through massive sliding doors concealed behind an ice wall.
Back at the office, Michael’s problems mount. He worries that his family has actually been abducted; plus, company owner Sumner Murdock (Mason Adams) wants more dynamiting.
Claudia and the kids learn that Santa’s not only real, he also uses high-tech gadgets to teleport, slow down the passing of time and fly. As Santa’s explaining how the oil well explosions damaged their communication systems, another blast rattles the room. Santa asks Claudia to convince Michael to change digging sites.
“I hate to say this, but they may not believe you,” Santa says.
As usual, he’s right. Claudia states her case to Michael and Sumner, who think she’s been drugged. She, David and Marianne sneak off to warn Santa.
At the last minute, C.B. persuades Michael to cancel the countdown to bigger blasts and Christmas is saved.
The 92-minute TV movie, which aired on ABC on December 13, 1984, earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Program.
Director Jackie Cooper played Perry White in Superman (1978).
Art Carney, costar of TV’s The Honeymooners, won six Emmys as well as a Best Actor Oscar for Harry and Tonto (1974). He was also the original Felix Unger in Broadway’s original The Odd Couple in 1965.
June Lockhart, who plays Mrs. Claus, starred in the classic series Lassie and Lost in Space, and also portrayed Lucille Ballard, the Smith sisters’ rival at the Christmas dance, in Meet Me in St. Louis.
Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
In a log cabin at the blizzardy top of the world, a roomful of children eagerly await Santa and his two reindeer. His arrival evokes cheers. “Happy Christmas, Uncle Claus!” the kids shout before receiving their gifts.
Claus (David Huddleston) and his wife, Anya (Judy Cornwell), continue on their way, but stormy conditions make it impossible for the reindeer to press on, and the stranded couple freeze.
However, a bright light revives them, and dozens of candle-bearing “little people” surround them. “We prefer to be called elves, if you don’t mind,”elder elf Dooley (John Barrard) informs Anya. The elves have been expecting Claus and Anya for a long time, and welcome them to their new home at the North Pole.
Claus tours his massive new toy workshop. During his first night, he sneaks out of bed to check on his two reindeer in the stable, where an elf named Patch (Dudley Moore) introduces him to six more.
The toy factory is soon in full swing. Claus oversees the creation of many toys. Anya selects the color of his new suit.
On his first Christmas Eve, Santa meets the Ancient Elf (Burgess Meredith).
“From this day on, now and forever, you will bring our gifts to all the children, in all the world,” he proclaims, “and all this to be done on Christmas Eve.”
The Ancient Elf anoints him Santa Claus and wishes the elves a merry Christmas. The reindeer eat a magic meal and gain the power of flight. Santa climbs into his sleigh and races into the crisp, cold night.
Santa’s magical mission continues for centuries. In the 1700s, he begins rewarding with gifts only those children who behave. In the 1800s, children start leaving cookies for him. In modern times, the elves stamp the toys “Elf made.”
But modern times require modern methods, and Patch tries to convince a reluctant Santa to automate the factory. Santa puts Patch’s plans into action and, despite some glitches, production is increased.
Amid all the activity, there are two children in particular who are in need of good cheer.
On Christmas Eve in New York City, a lonely girl from a well-to-do family, Cornelia (Carrie Kei Heim), befriends a homeless boy named Joe (Christian Fitzpatrick). That evening, Santa takes Joe and Cornelia on a sleigh ride over Manhattan, and they deliver presents together. Santa leaves Joe at Cornelia’s estate.
Shortly after the holiday, Santa begins to receive customer complaints about the quality of his toys.
“Returns?” Santa grumbles. “We’ve never had returns!”
Santa blames Patch for rushing production, and the demoralized elf leaves the workshop. Then things go from bad to worse. At a Senate subcommittee hearing, a sleazy rival toy maker, B.Z. (John Lithgow), responds to charges that his toys are dangerous. The court orders his toys pulled from stores.
Soon Patch arrives in Manhattan and, seeing B.Z.’s toys being removed from the shelves, offers him his expertise and suggests giving his toys away for free. To fix his company’s tarnished image, B.Z. very reluctantly agrees.
“If you give extra kisses, you get bigger hugs,” Patch says, quoting Mrs. Claus.
B.Z. clearly doesn’t care about kisses or hugs — profits are all that matter to him. But Patch, acting out of the goodness of his heart, gets to work on a top secret creation to help his new friend, not realizing he’s helping to create a rivalry with Santa.
On Christmas Eve, Patch introduces his new product — a special lollipop — with a live commercial. Santa sees it before he sets out to deliver presents. He goes and finds Joe, gives him a hand-carved toy, and brings him along.
At the same time, Patch climbs into his own life-size toy car and flies up, up and away into Manhattan to put free lollipops under every tree.
And they really are special
Cornelia’s nanny eats a lollipop and floats from her chair. Children all over the city have similar experiences.
With his reputation for Christmas razzle-dazzle assured, B.Z. holds a press conference to announce a partnership with Patch.
But Patch says that’s a no-go.
“Santa Claus has seen what I can do,” Patch explains to B.Z. privately about his decision, adding excitedly, “I’m sure he’s going to send for me to come home.”
But before he can leave, B.Z. ropes Patch into doing one more favor. He asks him to “juice up the formula” and create candy canes that will actually make kids fly.
And, he says, he wants it on the market before next Christmas.
“We’ll bring it out on March 25th,” he exclaims. “We’ll call it ‘Christmas 2!’”
At the North Pole, a sad Santa begins to question his place in the modern world, worrying that B.Z. has outdone him. He feels people no longer care about the simple joy of gift giving.
“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas anymore,”Santa laments to Anya.
Back in the secret factory, Patch begins pumping out magic candy canes, unaware of his employer’s true intentions.
However, Cornelia discovers them when she invites Joe to stay in her basement. While settling in, they overhear Cornelia’s uncle — none other than the hateful B.Z. himself — reveal his plans to finish off Santa and take over Christmas.
Joe sneezes, and is discovered by B.Z., who holds him hostage at his toy factory. But B.Z. has even bigger problems: He learns that the secret ingredient in Patch’s candy canes causes them to blow up when exposed to heat — not an issue at the North Pole, but a problem almost everywhere else. B.Z. decides to let Patch take the blame.
Meanwhile, Cornelia calls the police and writes Santa an emergency letter asking him to come to the rescue.
At the factory, Patch finds Joe and frees him. After seeing Joe’s toy from Santa, he decides to return to the North Pole. Unaware that his candy canes have an explosive issue, Patch fills the trunk of his rocket-powered car with samples. Joe rides along.
Santa picks up Cornelia. They spot Patch’s car flying over Manhattan and race after it, eventually catching up near the North Pole. Just then, the rocket engines on the car heat the candy canes and they explode, throwing Patch and Joe out into the air. Santa’s reindeer perform the “super-duper-looper” maneuver and save the pair before they hit the ground.
The police corner B.Z. at his office, but he evades capture by eating mouthfuls of his magical lollipops. He opens the window, floats out and drifts into outer space.
Christmas has been saved, and Santa and Anya allow Cornelia and Joe to live with them at the North Pole.
Before Santa Claus: The Movie, Jeannot Szwarc directed another flying-hero film, Supergirl (1984).
Screenwriter David Newman also cowrote Superman (1978).
The role of the villainous B.Z. was originally offered to Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman and Burt Reynolds, who all declined.
The Ancient Elf character was created for screen legend James Cagney, but he’d already retired when production began.
The film recouped only half of its $50 million budget.
All the prop toys used in the movie were donated to charity organizations for Christmas.
The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus (1985)
In the Forest of Burzee, Tingler the Sound Imp alerts the Great Ak (voiced by Alfred Drake) that the Leaders of the Immortals are arriving for a council meeting. They convene to decide if the elderly Santa (Earl Hammond) deserves immortality. “I must convince them, or tonight will be Santa’s last sleigh ride,” the Great Ak says mournfully.
The Great Ak informs the assembly that the Spirit of Death is primed to visit Santa. He proposes that the merry man be allowed to continue his yearly ride. To help persuade the group, the Great Ak decides to tell the enchanting story of Santa Claus, which began long ago.
In the tale, the Great Ak finds an abandoned baby in the snow. He gives the lioness Shiegra the task of protecting the baby, and asks wood nymph Necile (Lesley Miller) to raise him. Necile names the boy Claus, which, in the language of the forest, means“little one.”
When Claus is old enough, he enters the less peaceful mortal world, hoping to improve it. Shiegra and Tingler tag along.
The young man settles in the wintery Laughing Valley of Hohaho, and befriends local nymphs and humans. Years pass, and Claus saves a lost child named Weekum. To cheer the boy up, Claus carves a wooden copy of his cat, Blinky.
“A ‘toy!’” Claus exclaims, referring to his invention. “I like the sound of the word!”
Demand for his creations grows, and Claus continues his work, adding a doll to the roster. The wood nymphs chip in, helping at his new workshop.
Alas, opposing Claus and his merrymaking is the beastly King Awgwa, who wishes to maintain his evil influence on children. The king and his subjects have the gift of invisibility and misuse it to sabotage Claus’ good deeds
The Great Ak and the Immortals battle King Awgwa and destroy his monster army.
Claus resumes his gift-giving activities, using reindeer to pull his increasingly heavy sleigh. But the unexpected house guest is greeted by locked doors. Tingler suggests using the chimney, and Claus begins thumping down to deposit his toys.
“A saint like Claus has no need to unlock doors if it pleases him to enter our home,” an understanding father tells his children, who begin calling Claus “Santa.”
Upon hearing the Great Ak’s tale, the Immortals unanimously grant Santa Claus the Mantle of Immortality.
While thanking the Great Ak, Santa says it isn’t he and his toy makers who’ll benefit the most from this decision.
“In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child,” he exclaims.
The TV movie was based on a 1902 children’s novel by L. Frank Baum, who also wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The 50-minute feature first aired on December 17, 1985 on CBS.
This was the last “Animagic” film by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) directors Rankin and Bass.
The Great Ak was also the final role played by film star Alfred Drake.
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) and his Muppet friends are piled in Fozzie Bear’s pickup truck, headed to Fozzie’s family farm to spend Christmas with his mother, Emily.
“Don’t you think we should’ve called your mother to let her know we were coming?” Kermit sensibly asks. Fozzie (Frank Oz) promises that his lonely mother will appreciate the surprise.
At the farm, Emily eagerly preps for her trip to Malibu, Calif. She’s sublet her place to Doc (Gerry Parkes), who shows up with his dog, Sprocket, for a quiet country Christmas.
Fozzie and the Muppets arrive at the farmhouse immediately after Doc, who’s perplexed. The accommodating Emily cancels her trip.
Diva Miss Piggy (Frank Oz) calls her beloved Kermit and promises to be there as soon as she wraps up her glamorous photo shoot.
The Swedish Chef arrives at the party to cook Christmas dinner. Turkey shows up next, and Gonzo (Dave Goelz) urges the oblivious, endangered bird to take off, but instead he joins the crowd.
“See you at dinner,” Gonzo hollers.
Piano-playing Rowlf the Dog enters, checks in with Sprocket and kicks off the celebration with a “Sleigh Ride” sing-along. Miss Piggy calls again and tells Kermit she’s doing last-minute Christmas shopping.
While the Swedish Chef looks for Turkey, Scooter shows Christmas home movies featuring the Muppets as babies.
“Listen!” Kermit announces. “Me thinks me hears carolers!”
Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Bert, Ernie and the Sesame Street gang congregate outside to sing “Deck the Halls,” then join the Muppets inside. Doc resigns himself to the intrusion and offers to build more beds.
The party’s disrupted by news that “the worst blizzard in 50 years” is coming. Kermit worries about Miss Piggy traveling in the storm. Undeterred, Bert and Ernie host a “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” pageant.
Miss Piggy calls again, this time from a phone booth. She tells Kermit that her limo is stuck and she’s taking a taxi to the farmhouse. Kermit suggests she wait the storm out.
“Nonsense,” she says. “And miss my Christmas Eve with vous?”
Miss Piggy exits the phone booth and battles an onslaught of fiercely gusting snow.
Fozzie distracts the concerned Kermit by performing a comedy routine with new partner Snowman. In the kitchen, the Swedish Chef, hoping to make a memorable meal, tries to summon Big Bird, but the gentle feathered giant carols his way out of trouble.
Now a team player, Doc searches the storm for Miss Piggy. Kermit’s recruited by nephew Robin to explore a hole in the basement wall. They find the Fraggles, cave-dwelling Muppets who’ve never heard of Christmas. They do have a holiday tradition, though: They regift the same rock to a new Fraggle every year.
“That pebble’s been a gift 37 times,” Gobo Fraggle says.
Boober and the Fraggles “pass it on” to Robin.
Incredibly, a still-fabulous-looking Miss Piggy makes her entrance on a reindeer-drawn sleigh. The Muppets gather round the sofa and carol away — all except Oscar the Grouch.
Kermit gives Miss Piggy her present: a mink named Maureen.
“I’m your biggest fan,” Maureen says, lessening Miss Piggy’s disappointment at having received a live fur.
Doc returns dressed as Santa Claus, and Miss Piggy smooches with
Kermit under the mistletoe, ending everyone’s crowded but wondrous Christmas Eve.
The 52-minute TV special aired on December 16, 1987 on ABC.
Muppets creator Jim Henson made an on-screen cameo at the end, washing dishes with Sprocket.
A Muppet Family Christmas earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Program.
Acid rain, drugs, and terrorism fuel Scrooge, a new TV version of A Christmas Carol — at least that’s the way IBC TV President Frank Cross (Bill Murray) wants it. He’s put $40 million into the upcoming live holiday special, and doesn’t think heartwarming performances will make viewers tune in. He wants the audience to be too terrified to miss it!
Nervous employee Eliot (Bobcat Goldthwait) suggests Frank is way off base. Frank appears to agree, but when Eliot walks away, Frank has him fired.
Frank’s boss, Preston (Robert Mitchum), reminds him that everything is riding on Scrooge being a success. Frank says it will be, promising that IBC will “own Christmas.”
That night, Frank is alone in his office. The doors explode and the rotten corpse of his old boss Lew Hayward (John Forsythe) walks in. Lew tells Frank his future is grim, but there’s still time to change his nasty ways.
Lew tells Frank that three ghosts will visit him. Frank’s not buying it, so Lew dangles him from his skyscraper- office window. Lew’s arm crumbles and Frank falls — but mysteriously lands back in his office chair.
He still thinks it’s all humbug. The next day is business as usual. On the Scrooge set, Frank’s former girlfriend Claire (Karen Allen) shows up and hands him a business card for the homeless shelter she runs. The hard-hearted executive is unmoved. But when Frank goes to lunch with Preston and a competitive newcomer, Brice (John Glover), he starts to unravel. Hallucinating, he sees an eyeball in his drink and a waiter on fire.
Frank excuses himself and hops in a taxi. The decrepit cabbie turns out to be the Ghost of Christmas Past (David Johansen), who drives Frank to his boyhood home in 1955.
“You’re taking me back in time to show me my mother and father and I’m supposed to get all goosey and blubbery,” Frank says, insisting that the ploy will fail — miserably.
Frank, as an invisible spectator, sees his father return from work and chide his little 4-year-old self for being unemployed. Frank’s lovely mother wishes the boy a merry Christmas. Frank finds himself weeping.
The Ghost jumps ahead to Frank’s office, to a rollicking Christmas party in 1968 — it’s the night he met Claire. The Ghost then jumps to their first Christmas together, then another a few years later, when Lew spontaneously invites Frank and Claire to dinner. Claire reminds Frank that they have plans. When the ambitious Frank protests, Claire suggests they separate.
The Ghost deposits a gloomy Frank back on the Scrooge set.
There, Frank soon encounters a crazed fairy princess. It’s the Ghost of Christmas Present (Carol Kane), who takes him to the love-filled home of his overworked assistant, Grace (Alfre Woodard).
Her traumatized little boy, Calvin (Nicholas Phillips), refuses to talk.
The Ghost socks Frank with a toaster, magically knocking him under the city street and into a frostbitten tunnel. Frank sees Herman (Michael J. Pollard), a homeless man he spurned, frozen to death. Frank breaks out through an opening that leads back to the Scrooge set. Retuning to his office as the show goes live, he gets a visit from Eliot, the employee he fired, who’s drunk and toting a shotgun. Frank escapes into an elevator — which is occupied by the Ghost of Christmas Future.
The black-cloaked angel of death shows Frank grim visions: Calvin gets institutionalized, Claire becomes repulsed by beggars, and Frank gets cremated alive.
Frank emerges in his office. Eliot still has a shotgun trained on him, but Frank is suddenly, deliriously pleasant.
He offers Eliot a promotion. Then he crashes the Scrooge set and pours his soul out during the live finale.
“It’s Christmas Eve,” Frank says. “It’s not too late, is it?”
Little Calvin is there and reminds him to say, “God bless us every one,” and Frank drags Claire on stage for an on-air kiss.
Bill Murray ended a four-year acting hiatus to make the film, for which he earned $6 million.
The movie features three of his brothers: Brian Doyle-Murray (Earl Cross), John Murray (James Cross) and Joel Murray (a party guest).
The film was nominated for a Best Makeup Oscar.
Screen legend John Houseman— who introduces Scrooge — passed away shortly before the film’s release.
Care Bears Nutcracker Suite (1988)
Siblings Holly and Chris are rehearsing their school production of The Nutcracker. Their teacher, Miss Walker, tells them a version of the story she knows, involving her cuddly cottontail friends, the Care Bears.
“Once upon a time, not too long ago,” Miss Walker begins, “the Care Bears were preparing for the arrival of Christmas in Care-a-lot...”
Baby Care Bears Hugs and Tugs can’t find a special Christmas tree ornament. They’re interrupted by Funshine Bear (Susan Roman), who spies a sad girl named Anna (Tara Strong) with her Star Telescope. Determined to help Anna, Funshine and Grumpy Bear (Bob Dermer) hop in the Cloud Mobile and fly down to the snowy town below their cloud city.
At Anna’s house, the Care Bears learn that the girl’s best friend has moved away. Suddenly, a dimensional portal opens in her room and the Nutcracker (Michael Beattie) falls through. He has amnesia! The portal opens again and seven man-size rats appear.
“You can’t get away from me that easy, Nutcracker!” the Rat King (John Stocker) screams.
The rats chase the Care Bears and kids around the house. Funshine Bear attacks the rats with her “Care Bear Stare” power.
Aha! The Nutcracker then remembers that he’s from Toyland. The rats work for the Vizier, who wants to rule Toyland. The Care Bears fire off a rainbow flare to Care-a-lot. Brave Heart Lion, Tenderheart Bear and Lotsa Heart Elephant (Dan Hennessey, Jim Henshaw and Luba Goy) ride down, unaware that Hugs and Tugs are with them. The group magically warps to Toyland. Anna's younger brother, Peter, and the baby Care Bears follow them.
At Toyland Castle, the Vizier (Don Francks) questions the Sugar Plum Fairy: She’s hidden the Prince’s magical ring, and the Vizier wants it.
While traveling through Toyland, the Care Bears join forces with rebel toys. They battle the rats, who take Peter and the babies prisoner.
“We’ll never find our own special Christmas ornament in here,” Tugs sobs behind bars.
But all is not lost. The heroes sneak into the throne room and save the Sugar Plum Fairy. She shows the Care Bears a walnut Christmas ornament that contains the ring.
The Vizier grabs the special nut and forces the Nutcracker to open it. However, the Sugar Plum Fairy swoops in and puts the ring on the Nutcracker’s finger. He transforms back into the Prince and restores Toyland.
Hugs and Tugs bring the walnut shell ornament back to Care-a-lot. Anna’s sad about losing her new pal.
Back at Anna’s house, Peter wakes his sister and tells her they have a new neighbor, Alan Prince. The familiar-seeming boy gives Anna a gift — a nutcracker.
“I only have one question Miss Walker,” Chris asks his teacher after the story. “Whatever became of Anna?”
In the back of the theater, Alan shows up to take Miss Walker —a.k.a. Anna — home. Up in the rafters, the Care Bears have a good giggle about their adventure.
The 60-minute special premiered on December 10, 1988, on the Disney Channel.
This was the third and final TV movie featuring the Care Bears.
The DVD, released in 2006, retitled it Care Bears: The Nutcracker.
Don Francks (the Vizier) had a six-decade career, with roles on Mission: Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Wild Wild West.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Chicago natives Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), and their two kids, Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki), drive into the woods to pick out the biggest Christmas tree they can find. As usual, Clark complicates what should be a happy occasion by forgetting to bring a saw or axe. The tree must be yanked out by the roots. That night, after lugging their prize home, Ellen mentions that both sides of the family are coming for the holiday. Clark admits he’s always wanted “a big family Christmas.”
Clark and Ellen’s parents arrive first. Clark spends all day festooning the house with Christmas lights.
“I dedicate this house to the Griswold family Christmas” Clark joyously announces — as the decorations fail to illuminate.
The next morning, an undaunted Clark sneaks presents into the attic. Ellen’s mother inadvertently shuts him in, and the family goes shopping without him. Clark watches home movies from 1959 until Ellen finds and releases him.
Clark revisits the Christmas lights. The blinding array goes on and off several times before Ellen realizes a light switch in the garage controls it.
“House sure does look swell, Clark,” says Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), who’s shown up uninvited. Crude Eddie shouts for his kids, Rocky (Cody Burger) and Ruby Sue (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), who exit their RV with their Rottweiler, Snot.
In the chaotic days before Christmas, the Griswolds go sledding, Clark fantasizes about a pending Christmas bonus, Eddie empties his RV’s waste into a storm drain and Clark buys presents for Eddie’s kids.
Even more family arrives on Christmas Eve, whereupon Aunt Bethany (Mae Questel) begins dinner with the Pledge of Allegiance, a cat gets fried by the Christmas lights an Uncle Lewis (William Hickey) torches the tree. Then Clark gets a special delivery from work. “I was gonna wait till tomorrow to tell you all of this, but what the heck,”an emotional Clark tells the entire family. “With this bonus check I’m putting in a swimming pool!”
He opens the envelope — and finds it’s a “Jelly of the Month” membership. He snaps, goes on an epic rant about his “cheap, lying, no good, rotten” boss, and cuts a new Christmas tree from his front yard. A wild squirrel jumps out and Snot the dog destroys the home chasing it.
With the best intentions, Cousin Eddie shows up with Frank (Brian Doyle-Murray), Clark’s boss — gagged and wrapped in a bow. Clark calls Frank out on the bonus and Frank changes his mind. Meanwhile, the police raid the house looking for the kidnapped Frank, Uncle Lewis tosses a match into Eddie’s explosive sewage and everyone celebrates as Clark and Ellen share a Christmas smooch.
The $25 million movie raked in $70 million-plus at the box office.
This was the third Vacation movie, following National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985).
The film was based on “Christmas ’59,” a short story by John Hughes published in the December 1980 issue of National Lampoon.
Mae Questel (Aunt Bethany) was the voice of both Betty Boop and Olive Oyl. This was her final film.
Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus (1991)
It’s Christmas 1897, and Irish dockworker James O’Hanlon (Richard Thomas) has to fight for every penny he earns. Unfortunately, he’s fired for fighting with a loudmouthed coworker.
Now Christmas will be an even tougher time.
The approaching holiday also marks a full year since esteemed New York journalist Francis Church (Charles Bronson) lost his pregnant wife, Elizabeth, to pneumonia. Since then, he’s becoming more famous for drinking than for writing.
At The Sun newspaper office, reporter Andrea Borland (Colleen Winton) covers for Church by secretly completing his latest assignment. Editor Edward Mitchell (Ed Asner) is impressed. Gloomy Church isn’t.
“Tomorrow it’ll be yesterday’s newspaper and you can wrap a fish in it,” he glumly tells Andrea.
Meanwhile, O’Hanlon’s 8-year-old daughter, Virginia (Katharine Isabelle), has been fighting her ow battle — she’s made it her mission to shout down the know-it-alls who doubt the existence of Santa Claus. With nowhere else to turn, little Virginia writes to The Sun requesting the truth.
Church is about to take his life when he gets the assignment to answer Virginia’s letter in the paper.
“A hundred years from now, when there are new issues to be considered, some kid will still be asking this same question,” editor Mitchell tells the jaded journalist. “And you... will already have written the answer.”
While searching for inspiration, Church reengages with the real world. He also ditches the bottle. He writes a heartfelt editorial that runs on Christmas Eve.
That same day, police arrive at O’Hanlon’s door. He’s taken in — not for a crime, but for questioning about a robbery he thwarted! He returns home with reward money, and also brings home a Christmas tree and a kitten. Little Virginia gives him her gift: a newspaper.
“It’s today’s, Papa, today’s,” she says proudly. “Not a soggy, smelly one from yesterday.”
O’Hanlon immediately spots Church’s front page editorial that confidently proclaims, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.” He reads it to his family. In it, Church assures Virginia that her skeptical little friends are wrong, that the world is a place of faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance — and unseen wonders. Santa is one of those wonders.
Church stands in the doorway of Virginia’s home, aware that not only has his message been received but his own life has been turned around by the magic of Santa.
The made-for-TV movie premiered on December 8, 1991, on ABC.
Writers Val De Crowl and Andrew J. Fenady based the story on actual events.
The actual editorial “Is There a Santa Claus?” was published in The Sun on September 21, 1897, not on Christmas Eve.
An animated version of the story aired in 1974 on ABC. It won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Special.
In 2009, another animated version of the story, Yes, Virginia, aired on CBS, starring Alfred Molina as Church and Neil Patrick Harris as O’Hanlon.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is the story of the place where all holidays come from.
We begin in Halloween Town, where monsters and mutants are led by well-dressed skeleton. Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King. Halloween, of course, falls under his jurisdiction.
Every year, Halloween gets more and more horrible. Ordinarily, that pleases Jack immensely. But this year’s celebration has left the skeletal Pumpkin King feeling hollow. He craves something more fulfilling than bigger scares. Meanwhile, Sally (Catherine O’Hara), a patchwork quilt of a girl, has adored Jack from afar. She also desires something new — and no wonder: Her creator, mad scientist Dr. Finklestein (William Hickey), keeps Sally locked in his castle as a servant.
Back in Halloween Town, the mayor (Glenn Shadix) wants to begin planning the next Halloween, but can’t find Jack, who, with his ghostly, pumpkin-nosed dog, Zero, has been wandering in the woods.
While engaged in that pensive pursuit, the morose Pumpkin King suddenly finds himself in a strange clearing in the woods with a circle of seven unusual trees, each with a door in an odd shape: a heart, a shamrock, a brightly colored egg, a firecracker, a pumpkin, a turkey and a brightly decorated pine tree.
Jack pulls open the tree-shaped door and enters the darkened doorway, where he’s drawn down a wintery spiral. He lands in a frosty realm adorned with colorful lights. The Pumpkin King can’t believe his eyes.
“What’s this?” he wonders, seeing snow for the first time. Amazed and eager, he explores this wonderful world called Christmas Town.
Back in Halloween Town, the mayor grows increasingly concerned — and irrational — about Jack’s absence. He sounds the alarm: The Pumpkin King must be found!
At Finklestein’s castle, Sally’s hatched a plan. She adds a noxious Deadly Night Shade potion to her master’s soup, along with some Frog’s Breath and Worm’s Wart to mask the Night Shade’s putrid scent. However, the doctor senses that Sally’s up to no good and makes her sample the dish.
But Sally wasn’t stitched together yesterday! She uses her own special porous spoon to surreptitiously avoid downing the potion. Satisfied, Finklestein drinks it and passes out. Sally sneaks out.
Later that day, Jack returns to home riding a Christmas snowmobile and towing a sack of presents. The citizenry is aghast. Jack calls a town meeting to discuss his adventure.
He describes the wonderful traditions he’s learned in Christmas Town, but the twisted Halloween Town residents don’t get it. Frustrated, Jack fills his home with Christmas decorations and tries to figure out a way to convey this jolly new feeling to everyone.
“Eureka!” Jack suddenly screams from his chamber window. “This year, Christmas will be ours!”
Jack hands out new holiday assignments to everyone in Halloween Town. He sends young trick-or-treaters Lock, Shock and Barrel on a special assignment: to kidnap Santa from Christmas Town!
When Jack finds Sally and asks her to make his “Sandy Claws” outfit, she warns him that the Santa-kidnapping idea is a mistake, but he cockily brushes off her concern, and she reluctantly agrees to make the costume.
Halloween Town is now consumed with Jack’s plans to celebrate Christmas. Vampires construct toy ducks with bloody fang marks, a monster makes a hat by pounding a rat flat and even Sally’s captor, Dr. Finklestein, participates by reanimating reindeer skeletons. The night before Christmas, as Jack tries on his Santa outfit, Lock, Shock and Barrel sack the real Santa and take him to their leader.
“You don’t need to have another worry about Christmas this year,” Jack tells his portly prisoner. “Consider this a vacation, Sandy. A reward!”
Against Jack’s orders, the kids drop Santa off with bogeyman Oogie Boogie (Ken Page). The giant gambling goblin strings Santa up and toys with him. As Jack goes to the town square to make his debut as Santa, Sally pours a brew in the fountain that creates a thick, impassible mist. Jack sulks over his spoiled Christmas.
Then, in true Santa form, he has a bright idea. “Why, what a brilliant nose you have,”Jack tells his hovering dog, Zero. “The better to light my way!”
Despite Sally’s continued protests, Jack launches his sleigh into the foggy Christmas Eve night.
Nimble Jack performs his Santa duties, sneaking into homes and delivering spirited presents — only not the lovable Christmas kind. The demonic gifts he leaves behind attack the unsuspecting recipients
The police switchboard lights up with reports of an imposter Santa.
Sally sees only one solution: Venturing to Oogie Boogie’s lair, she removes one of her legs and uses it to distract the bogeyman while she unties the bound-up Santa and they attempt to escape. Alas, Oogie catches on and uses his super breath to suck the escapees back.
Military forces mobilize in Christmas Town to deal with the Santa imposter. Jack flies higher to avoid the antiaircraft gunfire, but his sleigh takes a direct hit. He plummets into a cemetery.
Once more Jack considers his Christmas a failure — though he happily recalls the precious few moments he felt “alive.” He realizes what he must do, and strips off his tattered Santa suit and sprints to save the real Santa Claus.
Hearing Sally scream, Jack sneaks down into Oogie’s lair and surprises the villain.
“But Jack, they said you were dead!” Oogie shudders, then activates his array of deadly booby traps.
Clearly not dead, Jack navigates Oogie’s gauntlet and tugs on a loose string on the monster’s burlap-sack exterior, causing the millions of bugs that form Oogie’s interior to tumble into a toxic pit.
Freed, Santa sagely advises Jack to stay out of other people’s holidays and to listen to sensible Sally. Then the one and only Santa bounds away before it’s too late to save Christmas.
Reinvigorated as the Pumpkin King, Jack takes a homecoming lap through Halloween Town, where, for the first time, it snows. Jack follows Sally onto his coiled, moonlit cemetery perch and they kiss.
The film, a musical, is based on a poem Tim Burton wrote in the 1980s.
Danny Elfman composed the score and sang all of Jack’s songs. The film was nominated for three Best Song Oscars and won for Best Original Score.
It was also nominated for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Jurassic Park.
Made using stop-motion animation puppets moved incrementally one frame at a time, the movie took three years to complete.
Director Henry Selick was inspired by legendary stop-motion filmmaker Ray Harryhausen, creator of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and other fantasy classics.
The Santa Clause (1994)
Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) always chooses career over family. Even on Christmas Eve, the divorced father spends more time at a corporate party than with his young son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd). Scott argues with his ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson), criticizing her new husband, Neal (Judge Reinhold), for telling Charlie that Santa isn’t real.
That night, Charlie wakes to a clatter outside and Scott gets up to investigate. He sees a Santa- suited man on the roof and shouts at the intruder, causing him to lose his balance and fall. Hearing the commotion, Charlie runs outside.
Scott searches the unconscious man for ID and pulls out a “Santa Claus” business card that reads: “If something should happen to me, put on my suit. The reindeer will know what to do.”
Scott and Charlie look at the roof and now see reindeer and a sleigh. They look back at Santa and only an empty suit remains. While Scott gathers the outfit for a potential insurance claim against him, a ladder magically appears. Charlie and Scott climb it and get into the sleigh, and the reindeer carry them away.
On the next roof, Charlie begs Scott to put on the suit. Scott gives in, and finds himself reflexively carrying out Santa duty. The outfit automatically squeezes him down chimneys and through fireplaces to deliver presents. Scott settles into the routine. He even finds himself enjoying it!
Once the reindeer take them to the workshop at the North Pole, though, it’s no so much fun. Scott begs the head elf, Bernard (David Krumholtz), to let him go home. “When you put on the suit, you fell subject to the Santa clause,” Bernard says, explaining that Scott is now legally Santa.
Scott wakes up at home, believing it was all a dream. But he keeps getting heavier, and his hair starts turning gray. His boss, Mr. Whittle (Peter Boyle), recommends he seek medical help. When Scott’s doctor listens to his heart, it thumps out “Jingle Bells.” And when he goes to Charlie’s soccer practice, kids line up to share their wish lists with him.
Feeling that Scott has taken the Santa scenario too far, Laura and Neal decide to seek full custody of Charlie. Scott dyes his hair and shaves before the court hearing, but his beard immediately returns and his hair reverts to snowy white.
The judge rules against Scott and suspends his visitation rights, effective after the new year. Scott shows up at Laura’s to say goodbye to his son, and she gives them a minute alone. Suddenly the head elf, Bernard, appears and whisks Scott and Charlie away.
The abduction kicks off a police manhunt. At the North Pole, Scott and Charlie gear up and head out on their holiday rounds. Scott agrees to land at Laura’s home and deliver a present Charlie made her at the North Pole. Scott sneaks in and puts it under the tree. The police ambush him while Charlie remains hidden on the roof.
The North Pole gets word of the setback and deploys the jet-packed E.L.F.S. (Effective Liberating Flight Squad). They collect Charlie and extract Scott from prison.
Again risking his freedom, Scott returns Charlie safely to Laura. Scott’ physical and spiritual transformation into Santa Claus is complete, and Laura finally believes his claim.
Laura tosses the custody papers into the fireplace and invites Scott back any time. Bernard tells Charlie to shake his magic snow globe any time he wants to see his father.
The family and most of the neighborhood watch Scott soar away in the sleigh.
Charlie immediately shakes the globe. Scott floats down and, with Laura’s permission, takes Charlie on a quick ride.
The $22 million Disney movie earned $190 million at the box office.
Bill Murray was the first choice for Scott Calvin but turned the part down.
Tim Allen, who served two years in prison for dealing cocaine, almost didn’t get the job because of Disney’s policy of not hiring ex-cons!
The film spawned two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006).
Jingle All The Way (1996)
Jet-packing superhero Turbo Man and his pink, saber- toothed sidekick, Booster, are the stars of a hit TV series.
“It’s Turbo time!” the crusader announces in every explosive episode.
So it’s no surprise that the only thing 9-year-old Jamie Langston (Jake Lloyd) wants for Christmas is a Turbo Man action figure. His workaholic father, Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is determined to give him one to make up for his constant absence — even though he hasn’t started shopping for the Turbo Man yet.
Unfortunately, today’s the day before Christmas, and Howard’s told his wife, Liz (Rita Wilson), that he’s already found one!
Howard excuses himself from breakfast to “run to the office” and grab the toy, promising to be back in time for the Christmas parade featuring Turbo Man. He runs into his neighbor Ted (Phil Hartman), who bought his son a Turbo Man months ago. “It’s nestled safely under our tree,” Ted brags while walking his pet reindeer.
At the first toy store he visits, Howard learns that the last Turbo Man was just sold. He battles a fellow toy- hunting dad, Myron (Sinbad), just to get out the door, but fails to catch up to the lucky Turbo Man buyer. He strikes out at the next batch of stores too.
Howard negotiates with a shady Santa impersonator who claims to have a Turbo Man. They drive to a black-market warehouse, where Howard gets a shoddily made knock-off version.
Howard and Myron meet at a diner where they hear a radio announcement for a Turbo Man giveaway. They run to the radio station, where Howard kicks his way into the studio. But Myron outdoes him by bluffing a bomb threat. The DJ clarifies that he doesn’t actually have the Turbo Man toy, only a gift certificate for one
Howard goes home a failure. Desperate, he breaks into Ted’s home to steal his Turbo Man, but has second thoughts. He returns the figure but ends up battling Ted’s reindeer and destroying his house. Liz and Ted catch him in the act.
“You can’t bench press your way out of this one,” Ted says.
Liz leaves for the parade. Howard eventually shows up and is mistaken for the performer playing Turbo Man. Going with it, he makes his grand entrance on the float and calls out “Jamie” to get a special edition figure.
“He knows my name!” a stunned Jamie says, not recognizing that Turbo Man is actually his dad. Jamie jumps onto the float and
Howard hands him the toy. But before Howard can reveal his true identity, Myron — dressed as Turbo Man’s archenemy, Dementor — zip-lines onto the platform. The men have an epic battle, just like their characters.
Howard takes off his helmet and apologizes to his family. Jamie generously gives Myron the Turbo Man figure for his own son.
That night, Liz lovingly prods Howard about her present from him. Which, as his “oops” expression reveals, he totally forgot to buy...
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Howard) got a hefty $20 million for the film.
Walmart released an exclusive 13-inch Turbo Man figure as a tie-in to the film. Originally $25, it now goes for 10 times that.
At the time of the movie’s release, Tickle Me Elmo was the “must-have” holiday toy that was sold out everywhere.
Jingle All the Way 2 was released in 2014 starring Larry the Cable Guy.
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
It’s Christmas in Whoville, a bustling little town that isn’t on any map — it exists in a snowflake! — and the Whos who live there are bursting with more cheer than their nearest neighbor, the Grinch (Jim Carrey) can bear.
The Grinch puts on a disguise, descends from his mountain and causes mayhem in the Whoville town square. He cuts a three-person bicycle in thirds, hands the hacksaw to kids and orders them to run with it.
Like the Grinch, 6-year-old Whoville citizen Cindy-Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) also feels overwhelmed by all the holiday hubbub and doesn’t understand why everyone enjoys getting “all kerbobbled.”
While in the sorting room at the post office, Cindy-Lou meets the Grinch and starts to fall backward into the dangerous sorting machine. After he saves her, the little girl decides to learn about the Grinch’s life. She finds out that, one Christmas Eve, the baby basket he was put in after he was born caught a “strange wind” and landed in Whoville, where he was raised by two kind women and went to school with the Who children.
She also learns that, though he was teased for being different, the Grinch had a crush on young Martha May Whovier (Landry Allbright), and she felt the same.
For the secret Santa gift swap at the Grinch’s school, he made Martha a lavish sculpture. Unfortunately, he tried shaving his “beard” the night before but cut his face, leading his classmates to ridicule him. He ran away and never went back.
Moved by his story, Cindy-Lou nominates the Grinch as Holiday Cheermeister at the annual Whobilation. She climbs Mount Crumpit and tells him that he’ll get an award — and that Martha May (Christine Baranski) will be there.
The Grinch decides to show up at the Whobilation, where the welcoming crowd gives him a gift: an electric razor. But when the mayor (Jeffrey Tambor) shockingly proposes to Martha May, the Grinch sours. He shaves the mayor’s head, torches the town’s Christmas tree and crashes a little Who car, creating a massive explosion.
Back on Mount Crumpit, the Grinch angrily assembles a rocket-propelled flying sled he plans to use to carry all the presents out of Whoville.
Cindy-Lou catches the Grinch in her house, but, believing he’s Santa Claus, reminds him not to forget the Grinch and returns to bed.
When the mayor blames Cindy-Lou for involving the Grinch in the town’s business, her father, Lou Lou (Bill Irwin), defends her, saying “Christmas isn’t about the gifts, or the contests, or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone.”
The town has a change of heart. Meanwhile, the Grinch has piled all the stolen toys on a giant sleigh, and is ready to push it off the top of the mountain.
Then he softens. “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store,” the Grinch thinks, as his heart literally starts to grow. Cindy-Lou startles him when she suddenly appears on top of the sled, which starts to slide toward the ledge. He summons the strength to save her — and Christmas as well. The Grinch and Cindy-Lou return to Whoville with everyone’s presents.
“I’m the Grinch who stole Christmas,” he proclaims. “And I’m sorry.” Martha May cancels her engagement to the mayor, Cindy-Lou kisses the Grinch’s cheek and the town unites over a roast beast feast.
The film was No.1 at the box office for four weeks.
Carrey spent nearly 100 days in the Grinch makeup and costume, which took several hours to put on.
The film was nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design, and won for Best Makeup.
Buddy (Will Ferrell) is just a baby when Santa (Ed Asner) visits his orphanage on Earth. There, unbeknownst to Santa, Buddy crawls into his sack of presents and is carried back to the North Pole. Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) raises Buddy just like any other elf. When he’s fully grown, Buddy still believes he’s an elf, despite his size and being, in his own words, “the worst toymaker in the world” and “a cotton- headed ninny-muggins.”
One day Buddy overhears Papa’s forced to tell his distraught adopted son that his real parents are Susan Wells and Walter Hobbs. Susan has passed away, he says, but Walter (James Caan), who was never told he had a son, is now a publisher of children’s books. Santa confesses that stingy Walter is on the naughty list and encourages Buddy to help straighten him out.
Still dressed as an elf, Buddy walks to New York City and visits Walter in his office at the Empire State Building. Once Walter realizes Buddy’s not a singing “Christmas-gram,” he has him thrown out.
Buddy heads to festive Gimbels department store, where he’s mistaken for a holiday employee. He meets shy Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), an elf-costumed worker, and helps renew her Christmas spirit. When the store closes, Buddy stays behind and thoroughly — and accurately — redecorates the North Pole-themed area.
When a Santa impersonator arrives the next morning, Buddy isn’t fooled. “You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa,” Buddy complains. Enraged, he rips Santa’s fake beard off, horrifying the crowd of children and getting into a scuffle with store employees.
Back at the office, Walter unwraps a present from Buddy — a photo of young Walter with Susan. He gets a call from the police and bails Buddy out of jail. Still suspicious of Buddy’s claims to being his son, he takes a DNA test with Buddy, which comes back a match.
Walter brings Buddy home to meet his wife, Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and his other son, Michael (Daniel Tay). They invite him to stay, and Buddy injects some much-needed merriment into the family’s rigid lifestyle.
At first, only Emily accepts him, but after Buddy, an expert at snowball fights, defends Michael from school bullies, the two form a tight bond.
Visiting Gimbels, Michael convinces Buddy to ask Jovie out to lunch, and she agrees to a date later in the week.
In the meantime, Walter brings Buddy to the office but ends up sending him down to the mail room, where he mistakes booze for syrup and triggers a department-wide dance party.
On their first date, Buddy and Jovie have coffee at a diner, spin through revolving doors and look at Christmas trees. She shows him the showstopping spruce in Rockefeller Center, and the couple kiss while ice skating.
Walter’s job is in jeopardy. He needs a hit book idea by Christmas, and brings in bestselling children’s book author Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage). Buddy interrupts their meeting and, delighted to see that Miles is a little person, innocently remarks, “I didn’t know you had elves working here!”
Finch beats Buddy up and storms out. Angry, Walter shows Buddy the door. At Walter’s apartment, Buddy puts his elf clothes back on, writes a goodbye note on an Etch A Sketch and runs away. Michael sees the note and alerts his dad, who’s in a job-saving pitch meeting. Prioritizing, Walter quits and goes with Michael to find Buddy.
Gusty Christmas Eve winds blow along the Hudson River, carrying the sounds of Santa and his reindeer Buddy’s way. Santa’s sleigh is powered by Christmas spirit — which, unfortunately, is at a minimum in New York City — so it crashes in Central Park. Buddy races to find his fallen hero.
Santa is relieved to see Buddy and asks him to fix the sleigh. But Buddy’s having a Christmas crisis of his own: He doubts his abilities and his heritage.
“You’re more of an elf than anyone I've ever met,” Santa assures him, “and the only one who I’d want working on my sleigh tonight.” The crash makes prime-time news, and Jovie sees Buddy in the report. While searching for Santa’s missing sleigh engine, which was thrown clear in the collision, Buddy runs into Michael and Walter, who says he regrets yelling at Buddy and asks for forgiveness. Buddy accepts, agrees to stay in New York, and introduces them to Santa.
To generate enough Christmas spirit to power Santa’s sleigh, Michael grabs Santa’s wish list and reads people’s gift requests on live television. Jovie arrives and inspires the crowd to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Watching on TV, the entire city starts caroling.
Finally, the “Clausometer” powers up and Santa and Buddy race the sleigh away from the militant park rangers chasing them. Christmas has been saved!
The following year, Walter releases Elf — a bestselling kids’ book about Buddy — and Buddy marries Jovie. Soon they bring their daughter, Susie, to visit Papa Elf at the North Pole.
Elf had a $33 million budget. It made $220 million at the box office.
The elf uniforms were based on those worn in 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Peter Billingsley, the star of A Christmas Story, plays exasperated elf Ming-Ming in an uncredited role.
The Polar Express (2004)
Lying in bed on Christmas Eve, a boy listens for Santa’s sleigh. He sneaks downstairs and sees a husky shadow with a pointy hat exiting the kitchen — but it’s only his father, getting his sister a drink. He slips back into bed, and when his parents come in and check on him, he pretends to be asleep.
“An express train wouldn’t wake him now,” his father remarks
The boy's eyes close.
A few minutes before midnight, his room begins to shake: A steam-gushing locomotive is pulling into his yard! The boy runs outside stares in awe at the Polar Express. The conductor (Tom Hanks) invites him aboard the North Pole-bound train.
The boy sits next to a girl in pink pajamas. He gives a golden “round trip” pass to the conductor, who mysteriously punches in it the letters “BE.”
After the train makes a stop to collect bashful young Billy, dancing waiters serve the children hot chocolate. The girl brings Billy a cup but leaves her unpunched ticket on the seat. The conductor whisks her away. The fretful boy searches for her on top of the train, where he meets a drifter.
"I am the King of the North Pole," the man shouts, then invites the boy to sit by his fire. He climbs on the drifter’s shoulders, and they ski the length of the train. The boy finds the girl comfortably seated behind the throttle of the Polar Express.
A massive herd of caribou covers the tracks, and the boy stops the train. But after the animals disperse, the train accelerates uncontrollably, spins onto a frozen lake and outraces a massive, expanding crack in the ice.
The train resumes its journey. An aggressive Scrooge marionette yells at the boy for not believing in Santa Claus. He walks to the caboose, where Billy and the girl sing about Christmas.
As they near the North Pole, thousands of elves greet the incoming train. The children enter Santa’s command center, where they spot a present on a conveyor belt with Billy’s name on it. Billy latches on to it and falls down a sorting slide. The other two go after him, and all three get deposited on a huge stack of presents.
Elves rescue the children, and the Christmas opening ceremony begins. Santa enters, and the boy notices a jingle bell that’s come loose from a reindeer’s harness. He picks it up and shakes it, but doesn’t hear it jingle.
“I believe,” the boy says.“I believe.” The bell chimes. The boy returns the bell to Santa, who chooses him to receive the inaugural present and asks him what he wants. The boy whispers to him.
Santa stands and holds the bell up.
“This bell is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of Christmas, as am I,” Santa says. “Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”
Santa signals his reindeer and makes a dazzling exit. The children board the Polar Express. The conductor finishes punching out the word on the boy’s ticket: “...LIEVE.”
On the ride home, the boy realizes his bell slipped through a hole in his pocket. The boy wakes up in his bed and realizes it’s now Christmas morning.
After opening presents, his sister notices one more gift at the back of the tree. The boy opens it and removes a silvery jingle bell.
The computer-animated “motion- capture”3-D film was based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 children’s book.
Among the film’s motion-capture actors are Tom Hanks (Boy, Boy’s Father, Conductor, Hobo, Santa, Narrator), Peter Scolari (Billy), Nona Gaye (Girl) and Steven Tyler (Elf Lieutenant, Elf Singer).
The film got three Oscar nominations, including Best Original Song for “Believe.”
Arthur Christmas (2011)
Gwen (voiced by Ramona Marquez), mails her letter to Santa. By Dec. 4, it’s being read by the mail- room clerk at the North Pole — Santa’s youngest son, Arthur (James McAvoy).
On Christmas Eve, a gigantic high- tech S-1 stealth craft hovers over every community in the world. Covert elf units deliver the presents for Santa (Jim Broadbent), who seems ready to retire. Steven (Hugh Laurie), Santa’s heir apparent and oldest son, runs the place with cold efficiency.
Back in the operations area, an elf discovers an undelivered present — the bike that little Gwen asked for. “A child’s been missed!” Arthur shouts. Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), who’s 136 years old, digs out his old wooden sleigh, Evie, and hitches up the descendants of the original reindeer, and he and Arthur head off to give Gwen her gift. Elf Bryony (Ashley Jensen) stows away to make sure it arrives in perfect condition.
As Grandsanta leads them on a time-wasting tour through Canada and Africa, Arthur realizes he’s there for a final taste of glory, not for Gwen. When they finally get to what they think is her home, it turns out GPS has taken them to the wrong house — on the wrong continent.
Short on time, they ask Steve for help. “If we all just gave in to Christmas spirit, there’d be chaos,” Steve says, denying their request.
Arthur, Grandsanta and Bryony get distracted and are left behind on a deserted island while the sleigh keeps going. Arthur catches it on its return trip from around the world.
Back at the North Pole, the elves confront Santa about the gift oversight. Santa blames Steve, who readies the S-1 to deliver the present. Santa and Mrs. Santa join him. Both groups converge on Gwen’s home as the Christmas sun rises. Arthur is allowed to make the delivery.
“Drop complete,” Bryony informs the elves. “And we have a new Santa!” The following year, a proud Arthur helms the refitted stealth craft, now renamed EVIE, which is powered only by reindeer — 5,000 of them!
The original name of the film was Operation Rudolph.
The stop-motion clay animation was done by Aardman Animations, the team behind the wildly popular Wallace and Gromit movies.
Arthur Christmas was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.
The Nutcracker & The Four Realms (2018)
As her first Christmas without her late mother approaches, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) isn't celebrating. Her grieving father, Mr. Stahlbaum (Matthew Macfadyen), hopes his daughter will make the best of the holiday and encourages her to come to the upcoming ball thrown by her godfather, Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman).
At the fete, Drosselmeyer tells Clara her mother was “the cleverest inventor I ever knew,” adding, “There was never any doubt when I asked what her greatest creation was.” Clara isn’t sure what he means.
Later, the guests participate in a party game, following colored cords to unknown destinations in the mansion. Drosselmeyer presents Clara with a golden thread leading to a key that opens a door with a clockwork lock. The thread winds through a creepy corridor, then through the hollow trunk of a huge uprooted tree into a wintery realm: the Land of Snowflakes. Eventually, Clara arrives at a palace, where she’s treated as a princess by the inhabitants. There she meets soldier Philip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), who introduces her to the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). The magical being reveals that Clara’s mother, the former queen, created their kingdom, and that there are two more delightful realms: the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets. Unfortunately, all three are under siege by the vicious Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), leader of a fourth, scorched world.
The evil woman has been expecting Clara. Mother Ginger’s fierce, well- organized forces include synchronized tin soldiers primed for a hostile takeover as well as the Mouse King (Lil Buck) and his mice hordes.
Clara is undaunted: She becomes a warrior herself. “I’m going to fix this,” she promises Philip. She asks for the support of his soldiers.
To save her mother’s creation, Clara unlocks the mysteries of each realm and restores balance to all of them.
Ultimately, Clara realizes what Drosselmeyer meant. Her mother’s greatest “invention” was her!
The film is based on the 1816 tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann.
Mackenzie Foy (Clara) made her big-screen debut as Renesmee in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011).