Haul Out the Holly: From "White Christmas" to The Muppets, The Holiday Movies You Can't Miss (Video)

News   Haul Out the Holly: From "White Christmas" to The Muppets, The Holiday Movies You Can't Miss (Video)
 
'Tis the season for holiday films! The Playbill.com staff has compiled a mix of titles that you can rent or stream while spending time with your family and friends this holiday season.

Kermit the Frog in "The Muppet Christmas Carol"
Kermit the Frog in "The Muppet Christmas Carol"

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After enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with your friends and family, what better way to relax than to curl up on the couch with some festive seasonal entertainment? From old-fashioned musicals to animated childhood classics to a screwball family comedy, there's nothing quite like a good holiday movie. 'Tis the season to be jolly!

Click through to read our collection of favorite holiday films.

"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol"

"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" is a fresh and fun take on the oft-revamped Charles Dickens holiday classic.

Structured as a show within a show, Magoo takes the Broadway stage in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a musical version of the tale. With tunes by the Funny Girl songwriting team of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, Broadway fans can't go wrong. The show also features the most adorable Tiny Tim in the "Christmas Carol" canon — razzleberry dressing, anyone?

"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Both on ABC annually, these specials feature Charles Schulz's famous characters dancing to the inimitable music of Vince Guaraldi. Good grief.

"White Christmas"

Besides being chock full of holiday nostalgia, "White Christmas" has some of the most exciting dance numbers of any film musical. Vera Ellen's "Mandy" is a marvel of choreography, and a cast of crooners, including Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye, wrap their voices around every song like a warm blanket.

 

"Mrs. Santa Claus"

The cast alone is a Christmas gift. Angela Lansbury in the title role, plus Michael Jeter and Terrence Mann, as well as a full-on Jerry Herman score make this a fun holiday treat.

 

"Meet Me in St. Louis"

Is it a Christmas movie? They cover so many holidays, but it's got Judy Garland warbling that holiday classic "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and that's plenty.

 

"A Christmas Carol: The Musical"

The television version, starring Kelsey Grammer, Jane Krakowski, Jesse L. Martin and Jason Alexander, doesn't quite capture how wonderful this Lynn Ahrens-Alan Menken musical actually is. Regardless, it's a fun, charming watch, and those Menken songs are some of the best he's written for the stage.

 

"The Muppet Christmas Carol"

The Muppets, a musical and the holidays — what could be better? This re-telling of the holiday classic features Michael Caine as Ebeneezer Scrooge, with the beloved Muppets filling in the other characters, including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit and Waldorf and Statler as the ghosts of Marley and Marley.

 

"Rent"

"December 24th/9 PM/Eastern Standard Time"… Need we say more?

 

"Camp"

Okay, so this is not really a holiday movie, but the performance of the definitive Thanksgiving song "Turkey Lurkey Time" is truly a holiday gift.

 

"Remember the Night"

This film is an unsung 1940 romantic comedy with a script by Preston Sturges and direction by the underrated stylist Mitchell Liesen. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, who were paired in several films (including the less family-friendly "Double Indemnity") and enjoy a natural chemistry, play a state's prosecutor and a convicted shoplifter who fall in love during a Christmas-time road trip back to their mutual home state: Indiana. Madcap comic bits are seamlessly knit together with passages of low-key drama and melodramatic sentimentality. The country Christmas scenes will warm your heart and then break it.

 

"Scrooge"

No film adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" got closer to the spirit of Dickens than this 1951 British version by director Brian Desmond-Hurst and screenwriter Noel Langley. And no actor delivered a better Scrooge than Alistair Sim, a huge British film star in the '40s and '50s who, sadly, is largely forgotten today. The film also includes fine character turns by Kathleen Harrison, Michael Hordorn, Jack Warner and a young Patrick MacNee. Genuinely moving and occasionally terrifying, almost every scene is a gem.

 

"A Christmas Story"

This 1983 Bob Clark adaptation of the stories of Jean Shepherd needs no championing. The 1940s-set movie is deservedly one of the most treasured holiday flicks of all times. But only a son of the Midwest can know how exactly right Clark and Shepherd get the experience of growing up in the snowbelt during the mid-20th century. A plus for theatre fans are what are arguably the best film performances of stage vets Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon.

 

"The Nightmare Before Christmas"

"What's this?" Follow Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as he stumbles into Christmas Town and struggles to understand the true meaning of the holiday. With classic animation by Tim Burton, as well some witty and clever songs, this eerie, yet sweet, movie offers a great alternative to typical holiday fare.

 

"Elf"

"I like smiling. Smiling's my favorite."

This charming movie follows Buddy, the baby who accidentally crawls into Santa's bag and lives at the North Pole, thinking he is a Christmas elf. As he approaches adulthood, he returns to New York to find his biological father. Will Ferrell plays Buddy perfectly as he learns to understand being a real person and falls in love.

 

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

Dr. Seuss' classic story of a mean monster, who, through his heart growing three sizes, learns the true meaning of Christmas, is a must-see for everyone, no matter their age. It's a heartwarming tale, simply told, and the old-fashioned animation is a classic.

 

"Scrooged"

In this modern-day retelling of "A Christmas Carol," Bill Murray plays a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge, a ruthless programming executive who is visited by three ghosts who warn him of the errors of his way. Throw in references to "Ghostbusters" and the TV industry, and you've got a 1980s holiday classic.

 

 

"Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas"

Jim Henson's magical retelling of "The Gift of the Magi," featuring songs by Paul Williams, is another favorite film to watch during the holidays. It's simple and sweet but with a lovely score and a lot of fun.

 

 

"The Shop Around the Corner"

The film that She Loves Me is kinda, sorta based on is just bliss. James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan star as coworkers who hate each other who are also pen-pals who have fallen in love with each other's letters. If the plot sounds familiar, that's because it was remade in 1999 as "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

 

The Rankin/Bass specials

This seems especially poignant since we recently lost Arthur Rankin, Jr., but how many of us have spent our holiday season glued to the television set watching "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," "The Year Without a Santa Claus," "Frosty the Snowman" and so many others? Not only did they use traditional carols, but several of them had new songs written just for the films by Johnny Marks that became classics, such as "A Holly Jolly Christmas," "Silver and Gold" and more.

 

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