So Amy invested in buying DVDs of her favorites. Some are spendy, some are free for Netflix and for Amazon Prime users and some are just darn hard to find. Here's a list of our eclectic essentials for holiday viewing.
Every Year Mandatory Viewing in the Hunt House:
Christmas in Connecticut
Nightmare Before Christmas
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Christmas in Connecticut - Traditionally, Amy and I sit down to watch this every New Years Eve after the kids are in bed. Curled up on the couch with Amy looking at the tree and watching this black and white postwar classic. Barbara Stanwyck is perfect and the house in the country must have lived in the dreams of many couples creating a new life for each other after the war. The back and forth between Sydney Greenstreet and Cuddles Skall is as evocative of Christmas as gingerbread cookies to me.
I love these postwar movies. There is a sense of hope for the future, while everyone is making do as best the can. White Christmas falls into this category of course. It is free on Netflix and one of the best Christmas movies of all time - if for no other reason than Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" twice. So does Miracle on 34th Street, which we don't watch every year. Here too, the theme is adjusting after the war - loss and hope. It goes without saying for this and other movies mentioned, that the remake is no where near as good as the original.
Holiday Affair, staring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh also deals with Americans coming to grips with loss after the war, while trying to have hope for the future. It's a neat little movie about a war widow and ex-GI with a toy train running through it. Robert Mitchum is one of my favorite actors.
I'm not a huge It's a Wonderful Life fan, but I do like Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner.
As for the modern Christmas Movies, here's our list:
Nightmare Before Christmas - not sure if this is a Halloween movie or Christmas movie, but we watch it early and often. It's a movie that is culturally influential far beyond the holidays. We find ourselves singing Danny Elfman's wonderful songs all year 'round. That said, Halloween Town is an acquired taste and not for everybody.
Love Actually - Some love it, some hate it. It's a grown up movie that doesn't sugar coat the jagged edges of loving relationships, yet is still funny and hopeful. You'll cry, which makes laughing so much better. Not for kids.
Christmas Vacation - Brutal funny family Christmas classic that you can watch after all the family has gone home and the kids are in bed.
Mickey's Christmas Carol - Amy's favorite. Expensive on DVD, but worth it. The kids were watching it this morning.
The Muppet Christmas Carol - My favorite version of the Dickens classic, and one of the best in the Muppet movie cannon.
Emmit Otter's Jug Band - Speaking of muppets. The girls claim they don't like this movie, but I love it and they watch it with me.
Scrooged - Bill Murray, Carol Kane, Karen Allen Bobcat and Goldthwait doing a modern TV Executive version of Dickens. Awesome. Think Ghostbuster's Christmas and you get the idea. And Mary Lou Retton!
The Polar Express - This movie kind of creeps me out - Uncanny Valley and all that. Let's face it, that's a lot of Tom Hanks. Still the songs and train ride are a blast. This one gets watched a lot on our house.
Rare Exports - Finnish movie where "the real Santa" is dug up and children start disappearing. I don't think this one is for the kids just yet, but Amy and I loved it. Dark comedy and a lot of suspense.
Arthur Christmas - originally I had no interest in this movie because I associated it with that weird TV cartoon with the rabbits living in the suburbs that the kids used to watch. It's not. It's English and from the creators of Wallace and Grommit it's fun and Grand Santa is hilarious. Get and watch it. It's a blast.
Rise of the Guardians - William Joyce has created THE coolest Santa ever. It's fun, brilliantly animated and designed and just fun to watch.
Charlie Brown Christmas - Nothing needs to be said here about this, other than I listen to Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack all the time - not just at Christmas. Yet driving over to midnight mass listening to "Christmastime is Here in the snow, with the lights of Astoria is one of my favorite moments on this planet.
Anything by Rankin and Bass (Rudolf, Little Drummer Boy, The Year Without a Santa Clause and Santa Clause is Coming to Town are my favorites.)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (not the remake movie. Ick.)
Santa vs the Snowmen - Weird, crudely animated, still like it.
Prep and Landing - An Elf gets passed over for a promotion. Doesn't sound like a good plot for a Christmas special, does it? This is clearly one of the best of the recent Christmas TV specials all the same.
A Christmas Carol performed by Patrick Stewart. - Dickens' original words are too good to allow the distraction of a movie. Listen instead. Stewart is brilliant.
These aren't for everyone, and I'm open to suggestions of anything I may have missed. Merry Christmas!