There are so many sappy, stupid Christmas shows and movies made. The Hallmark channel has shallow and sentimental Christmas shows 24/7 during the Christmas season. None are really worth the two hour time investment required. (I know, we recently visited family who watched such programs round the clock.)
So, I thought I would engage a discussion of the greatest Christmas movies of all time. Obviously, opinions are going to vary on some of these, but there is to be no debate or question about number 1. Those who disagree with me on #1 will be referred to my good buddy St. Nick (we met at fat camp years ago) to be put on his naughty list.
#5 Tie – Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
NOTE: I strongly recommend that if you watch Christmas Vacation, you record it off the TV. That knocks a little bit of the vulgar dirt off this gem.
Do you see how I managed to get two in here for the price of one? Home Alone is hilarious and a reminder of the importance of family. But watching Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get tortured just puts you in the Christmas spirit, doesn’t it? And Clark Griswold has been my Christmas decorating icon for years. My life will be complete when my Christmas tree causes a neighborhood black out!
#4 A Christmas Story
Ralphie gets his Red Ryder BB gun and gets to beat up the bully and help his dad change a tire in the middle. This movie suffers a little from over-exposure, since TBS runs it for 24 straight hours on Christmas Eve/Day. But every line in it is a classic.
One moment of disappointment, though. When I watched this show for the first time, years ago, I was certain how it would end. Ralphie was constantly warned throughout the movie that he would shoot his eye out with the gun. I was sure that at the end, the narrator (the adult Ralphie) would appear with an eye patch. I thought that would have been comic genius. Oh well, that’s life.
#3 A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version)
There have been 712,346,824 versions of the Dickens classic made, but the George C. Scott version is my favorite. I realize that some like Alistair Sim, but they are simply wrong! Patton was made to play Scrooge.
This is a story of redemption and transformation. Granted, we know that this kind of change only comes through the gospel, not through visitation from the ghosts of Christmas, but it is a powerful reminder that a man like Scrooge can become the best celebrator of Christmas the world has ever seen.
#2 It’s a Wonderful Life
I think all of the silly, sappy, sentimental Christmas tripe that is out there today is simply repeated attempts to recreate the emotion evoked by this movie. Yeah, it’s a little over the top at times, but it is a great story, well made. No Christmas celebration is complete without it.
That brings me to #1. Let me remind you, I am open to debate on #2 through #5. Some of you might want to add Elf, or Miracle on 34th Street, or Scrooged, or perhaps The Santa Clause to the mix. Maybe a few adventure junkies would argue for Die Hard. Some might like the classic White Christmas. But #1 is beyond contestation. It is a TV show, not a movie.
#1 The Andy Griffith Christmas Special
Made in 1960, it is the story of Andy and the gang’s celebration of Christmas while ol’ Ben Weaver tries to play the Grinch. But in the end, Ben’s heart is warmed (primarily by the best rendition of Away in a Manger EVER – by Andy and Ellie). If you can keep a dry eye as Ben stands outside peering in through the bars on the window while Andy and Ellie sing, your heart is hard! And Barney has to be the worst Santa ever.
So, debate is open, but anyone who questions the rightful place of Andy, Barney, Opie and Aunt Bee at the top of the list will be called a liberal, or a Methodist, or perhaps both!