My Christmas Favorites

by grendelkhan | created - 17 Dec 2012 | updated - 22 Apr 2013 | Public

Some movies, tv specials, favorite tv episodes, and a few odds and ends. The absence of any favorite of yours isn't a slight; evryone has their special favorites.

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1. A Christmas Carol (1951)

Not Rated | 86 min | Drama, Fantasy

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve...

Director: Brian Desmond Hurst | Stars: Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns

Votes: 16,891

The all-time champion and arguably the best adaptation of the Dickens classic. Alistair Sim truly captures both sides of Scrooge, from miser to redeemed. The movie feels Victorian, as the story should, and the cast is brilliant.

2. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
89 Metascore

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 320,932 | Gross: $7.27M

"Merry Christmas, you old Building & Loan!" Jimmy Stewart delivers more heart and sentiment than would seem possible in one movie. It's become cliche through imitation; but, Stewart and Capra did it best.

3. A Christmas Story (1983)

PG | 94 min | Comedy, Family

8.0
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77 Metascore

In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Director: Bob Clark | Stars: Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Scott Schwartz

Votes: 115,571 | Gross: $19.29M

Never before has a film captured what Christmas feels like to a kid. A wonderful adaptation of Jean Sheperd's stories, from the director of Porkys, of all things!

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 26 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville.

Directors: Chuck Jones, Ben Washam | Stars: Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft, June Foray, Dal McKennon

Votes: 37,171

The perfect blend of Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones, with a little help from Boris Karloff and Thurgood Ravenscroft (Tony the Tiger). Wonderful songs and some great little moments.

5. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970 TV Movie)

TV-G | 48 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees

Votes: 9,116

"You better watch out..." Fred Astaire narrates the Rankin/Bass classic, with Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle and Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock. These guys could also scare the pants off of you, with scenes like the trees grabbing Kris and the penguin. Lot's of fun!

6. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974 TV Movie)

TV-G | 51 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a weary and discouraged Santa Claus considers skipping his Christmas Eve run one year, Mrs. Claus and his Elves set out to change his mind.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Shirley Booth, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, George S. Irving

Votes: 5,986

Heat Miser and Snow Miser; what more do you want? Rankin/Bass strike again!

7. Frosty the Snowman (1969 TV Short)

TV-G | 25 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Jackie Vernon, Billy De Wolfe, Jimmy Durante, Paul Frees

Votes: 11,617

"Happy Birthday!" I prefer the stop motion Rankin/Bass specials, but Frosty is good stuff. It certainly reminds you of the power of magic.

8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964 TV Movie)

TV-G | 47 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

Director: Larry Roemer | Stars: Billie Mae Richards, Burl Ives, Larry D. Mann, Paul Soles

Votes: 20,486

I didn't see much of this as a child, since it was on CBS and we could barely tune in the area affiliate. It's grown on me over the years, though. I still think Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is better, but Rudolph is perfectly voiced.

9. A Wish for Wings That Work (1991 TV Short)

22 min | Animation, Short, Comedy

7.7
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Opus the Penguin struggles to achieve his seemingly impossible dream to be able to fly.

Director: Skip Jones | Stars: Michael Bell, Joe Alaskey, John Byner, Tress MacNeille

Votes: 768

A later, odball addition, from the mind and pen of Berke Breathed. Bill and Opus hit the screen and hit every note. Based on the wonderful picture book, with honest sentiment.

10. Scrooged (1988)

PG-13 | 101 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

7.0
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38 Metascore

A selfish, cynical television executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover

Votes: 71,618 | Gross: $60.33M

A nice update on the Scrooge plot, with Bill Murray channeling some of Alistair Sim's ability to show both sides of Scrooge (or Frank Cross, as we have here). It's manipulative as all heck, but it gets away with it thanks to sincere performances, including a tear-enducing moment at the end. It also has a fantastic song to cap everything off.

11. Fitzwilly (1967)

Not Rated | 102 min | Comedy, Romance

6.7
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When Miss Vicki's father dies, she becomes the world's greatest philanthropist. Unfortunately, she is flat broke! Her loyal butler, Claude Fitzwilliam, leads the household staff to rob from... See full summary »

Director: Delbert Mann | Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Barbara Feldon, John McGiver, Edith Evans

Votes: 991

Not exactly a Christmas film, but it is set at Christmas time. Dick Van Dyke is a butler who runs a crime ring whose purpose is to keep a "wealthy" woman in the life to which she is accustomed, even though her money is long gone. Enter Barbara Feldon as the fly in the ointment and the caper to end all capers: the robbery of Gimbles, without an element of violence. great character work from all involved.

12. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988 TV Short)

43 min | Short, Comedy, History

8.0
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After a genial spirit shows the benevolent Ebenezer Blackadder visions of his unscrupulous ancestors, he resolves to mend his generous ways.

Director: Richard Boden | Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry

Votes: 9,946

Wonderful twist on Dickens. Ebeneezer Blackadder is a doormat for everyone in London. He soon finds himself accidentally visited by a Christmas spirit (who's imbibed in a few spirits of his own) and gets a glimpse of a rather scary future: Baldrick in a posing pouch!

13. An American Christmas Carol (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 98 min | Drama, Fantasy

6.9
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In an American town, an old bitter miser is given a ghostly chance at redemption on Christmas Eve.

Director: Eric Till | Stars: Henry Winkler, David Wayne, Chris Wiggins, R.H. Thomson

Votes: 904

Another twist on Dickens, featuring Henry Winkler as a miser in the Great Depression. The future part isn't quite up to the rest of the film, but Winkler and the cast are excellent. The moment in the Thatcher home is well played.

14. A Christmas Carol (1971 TV Short)

28 min | Animation, Family, Short

7.7
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An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when spirits visit him on Christmas Eve.

Director: Richard Williams | Stars: Alastair Sim, Michael Redgrave, Michael Hordern, Diana Quick

Votes: 933

Chuck Jones brings Dickens to life via animation. Features vocal work from Alistair Sim and Michael Redgrave. This was my introduction to Dickens.

15. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 TV Movie)

TV-G | 25 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

8.4
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Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

Director: Bill Melendez | Stars: Ann Altieri, Chris Doran, Sally Dryer, Bill Melendez

Votes: 25,492

The special that launched a phenomenom. The Peanuts gang are here in this deservedly beloved special. You can't top the sight of that little tree. It also introduced the "running man" dance, long before it appeared on the dance floor.

16. The Avengers (1961–1969)

TV-14 | 60 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

8.4
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A quirky spy show of the adventures of an eccentrically suave British agent and his predominately female partners.

Stars: Patrick Macnee, Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman, Linda Thorson

Votes: 5,132

The episode, "Too Many Christmas Trees" is another favorite, featuring many homages to Dickens.

17. Mary Tyler Moore (1970–1977)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The lives and trials of a young single woman and her friends, both at work and at home.

Stars: Mary Tyler Moore, Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper

Votes: 5,375

Mary finds herself stuck manning the teletype at the station on Christmas Eve. A wonderful Christmas episode that really lets the the actors shine.

18. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

8.4
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The misadventures of a TV writer both at work and at home.

Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam

Votes: 7,130

The Alan Brady christmas show, with the writers performing is another favorite, with a great dance number from Rob and Laura, a nice song from Sally, and a bit of cello work from Buddy. Even Mel gets to join in. Lots of fun.

19. Happy Days (1974–1984)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Music

7.5
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The Cunningham family live through the 1950s with help and guidance from the lovable and almost superhuman greaser, Fonzie.

Stars: Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley

Votes: 13,031

Happy Days had many Christmas episodes, but my favorite is from Season 2, when Richie invites Fonzie home for Christmas so that he is not alone, despite Fonzie's assurances he has places to be. henry Winkler caps the moment wonderfully with a simple line, near the end.

20. The Six Million Dollar Man (1974–1978)

60 min | Action, Adventure, Crime

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

After a crippled test pilot is rebuilt with nuclear powered limbs and implants, he serves as a unique intelligence agent.

Stars: Lee Majors, Richard Anderson, Martin E. Brooks, Lindsay Wagner

Votes: 6,820

The Bionic Christmas episode, despite the cliches, is great fun, thanks to Ray Walston and Dick Sargent.

21. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

Director: George Seaton | Stars: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 34,359 | Gross: $2.65M

I missed this one as a kid, but discovered its wonder as an adult. Natalie Woods is brilliant, and the scene with Kris Kringle and the Dutch orphan girl gets me every time.

22. Donovan's Reef (1963)

Not Rated | 109 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

6.9
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Comedy subtly dealing with moral issues such as racial bigotry, corporate greed, American belief of societal superiority and hypocrisy.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Allen, Jack Warden

Votes: 6,562

Again, not stricly a holiday movie, but there are some great Christmas-themed scenes later in the film. The Three Kings are certainly unique.

23. WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The staff of a struggling radio station has a chance at success after the new programming director changes the format to rock music.

Stars: Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Howard Hesseman

Votes: 6,004

Not quite up there with the Thanksgiving episode from season one, but the show had a couple of good holiday episodes. In the first, Jennifer is disappointed that everyone is rushing to get away from the station Christmas party. Everyone shows up at her place to cheer her up, complete with tree (except Herb). A nice Jennifer episode. The second is their take on A Christmas Carol, where Mr. Carlson gets a lesson in rewarding hard work, possibly with a little help from a Johnny Fever brownie.

24. The Brady Bunch (1969–1974)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The misadventures of a large family united when a widower and a divorcée marry.

Stars: Robert Reed, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis, Barry Williams

Votes: 9,979

The reunion movie was chocked full of Christmas schlock, but the original series features a nice episode where Cindy asks Santa to restore her mother's voice in time to sing in church on Christmas. The show was full of false sentiment, but not this episode. Susan Olsen's shining moment.

25. The Partridge Family (1970–1974)

30 min | Comedy, Family, Music

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The humorous adventures of a family of pop musicians.

Stars: Shirley Jones, David Cassidy, Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce

Votes: 2,621

Dean Jagger guest stars in an episode where the family finds themselves stuck in an old, deserted town near Christmas. A story ensues, with the family having a bit of fun in a dream sequence, then a little miracle in the real world. A nice piece of comedy and warmth.

26. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
49 Metascore

The Griswold family's plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik | Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Johnny Galecki

Votes: 122,508 | Gross: $71.32M

The only sequel worthy of the original. Clark Griswold tries to have a traditional family Christmas, complete with Cousin Eddie, bickering in-laws, a penny-pinching boss (the great Brian Doyle Murray) and Yuppie neighbors. Lots of laughs and some warm sentiment.

27. A Christmas Carol (1984 TV Movie)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

7.9
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An old bitter miser who rationalizes his uncaring nature learns real compassion when three spirits visit him on Christmas Eve.

Director: Clive Donner | Stars: George C. Scott, Frank Finlay, Angela Pleasence, Edward Woodward

Votes: 9,852

Geroge C Scott doesn't quite pull of the redemption, but it has a great cast and some fine moments. Edward Woodward especially shines as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

28. Mr. Bean (1990–1995)

TV-G | 350 min | Comedy, Family

8.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Life is a difficult challenge for Mr Bean, who despite being a grown adult, has trouble completing even the simplest of tasks. Thankfully, his perseverance is usually rewarded, and he finds an ingenious way around the problem.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Robin Driscoll, Matilda Ziegler, Matthew Ashforde

Votes: 77,641

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean is a tremendously anarchic special. It's hard to decide whcih is the best moment: the playing with the department store Nativity, the Salvation Army band, or stuffing the turkey.

29. Are You Being Served? (1972–1985)

TV-PG | 28 min | Comedy

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The misadventures of the staff of a retail floor of a major department store.

Stars: Mollie Sugden, John Inman, Frank Thornton, Wendy Richard

Votes: 5,590

Several Christmas episodes, but my favorite is the staff's attempt to put on a ballet. Mr. Humphries is in his glory here.

30. The Vicar of Dibley (1994–2007)

60 min | Comedy

8.0
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A boisterous female minister comes to serve in an eccentricly conservative small town's church.

Stars: Dawn French, James Fleet, Trevor Peacock, Gary Waldhorn

Votes: 9,244

A couple of favorites here. First, the Vicar is invited to everyone's Christmas luncheon and can refuse none. Not for the faint of stomach, by the end of things. The second is the live Nativity, that gets a bit too realistic.

31. Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)

TV-PG | 23 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

9.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

The Dark Knight battles crime in Gotham City with occasional help from Robin and Batgirl.

Stars: Kevin Conroy, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Robert Hastings

Votes: 65,117

"Christmas with the Joker" really cemented this show as a classic.

32. M*A*S*H (1972–1983)

TV-PG | 25 min | Comedy, Drama, War

8.4
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The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their situation.

Stars: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr

Votes: 43,007

Again, there are several Christmas episodes, but my favorites involve Winchester. The first involves a rather cynical Charles who is homesick for Boston and can't seem to find the Christmas spirirt. A small gesture from Father Mulcahy brings a piece of Boston to him, reminding him of what Christmas is really about. The second involves Winchester's secret double life as an anonymous benefactor of orphans at Christmas. Only Klinger witnesses this side of Winchester and shares a wonderful moment at the end.

33. The Simpsons (1989– )

TV-14 | 22 min | Animation, Comedy

8.8
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The satiric adventures of a working-class family in the misfit city of Springfield.

Stars: Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith

Votes: 306,932

Who can forget the pilot for the series, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, where Homer tries to deliver Christmas, without a Christmas bonus or the Christmas Jar? A wonderful peak at the greatness that was to follow (though the Tracy Ullman Show started the ball rolling) and the introduction of Santa's Little Helper.

34. Good Neighbors (1975–1978)

28 min | Comedy

8.1
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The perils of "escaping the rat race" and dropping out of society - to start a farm in Surbiton (and to drive Margo nuts).

Stars: Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington

Votes: 2,098

Wonderful Christmas episode, where Jerry and Margo are pulled into the festivities. A little home brew helps get things going.

35. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

G | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

7.7
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The Muppet characters tell their version of the classic tale of an old and bitter miser's redemption on Christmas Eve.

Director: Brian Henson | Stars: Michael Caine, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson

Votes: 39,361 | Gross: $27.28M

The first feature following the tragic loss of Jim Henson. The Muppet gang do an admirable job at delivering Dickens, with a nice little moment amongst the Cratchitts that I am convinced was a tribute to the absent Henson.

36. Justice League (2001–2004)

TV-PG | 22 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

8.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Seven of the most formidable heroes form arguably the most powerful team ever.

Stars: Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, George Newbern

Votes: 32,625

Another great Christmas episode from Bruce Timm and the gang. Superman introduces Christmas to J'onn, while Green Lantern and Hawkgirl unwind on another world. The Flash hunts for the hottest toy of the season and finds a little Christmas help from the Ultra-Humanite! A nice little character piece.