Some purists may sniff that 1942’s “Holiday Inn,” of which this 1954 musical is a partial remake, is a superior piece of work. The fact remains that this latter vehicle for Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen has become a compulsory part of the yuletide celebration for millions around the world. The classic title tune is just one of several memorable Irving Berlin melodies performed here with style, heart and panache.
Small-town guy George Bailey (James Stewart) defers one big dream after another to stay home, marry a local girl (Donna Reed) and run the family business. Facing financial ruin, he’s pulled from suicidal despair by angel Clarence (Henry Travers), who shows him how terrible the world would have been if he’d never lived. Lionel Barrymore also stars in director Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, a Christmas Eve television tradition.
TBS begins its annual 24-hour yuletide marathon — also airing on sister channel TNT — of this holiday favorite from 1983 starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, the little boy who yearns to find a Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree. Not just a Christmas story, it’s about parents, little brothers, bullies, decoder rings, double dog dares and most of all, the workings of a youthful mind. The writing by Jean Shepherd (who also narrates) captures it all perfectly. Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon also star.
Many people consider this 1938 version their favorite screen adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. Count June Lockhart (“Lost in Space”) among them: She made her film debut at age 12 as one of the children of Bob and Emily Cratchit, played by her real-life parents, Gene and Kathleen Lockhart. Reginald Owen stars as Christmas-hating curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge.
Written by "Home Alone" filmmaker John Hughes, the third installment in the movie-comedy series was a major hit of the 1989 holiday season. Chevy Chase returns as Griswold family patriarch Clark, who tries to ensure a traditional yuletide for his clan -- despite the considerable odds against it. Co-stars Beverly D'Angelo and Randy Quaid also are back. Juliette Lewis plays one of the younger Griswolds.