The 12 Movies of Christmas


December 20, 2015 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

It's_A_Wonderful_LifeThis is a busy time of year, and with Krampus coming this past weekend, there wasn’t a whole lot left over for writing – so I thought my gift to my readers this year would be easy access to a few holiday classics. Below, then, are my 12 Movies of Christmas. To be fair, some are shorts, and others are that odd genre, the Christmas TV special.

It was a Christmas tradition for me for many years to wrap presents on Christmas Eve while watching It’s a Wonderful Life. That movie has been in the public domain so long it is not difficult to find it online – but some of these you may be unaware of.

It is telling that a full third of these are variations on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I could have included more. I am embarrassed to say that the version that most influenced me growing up was the one with Mr. Magoo in it – which I did find, though I’m not able to embed it. So I suppose this is a baker’s dozen.

1. A Christmas Carol [1910]

This is the first Christmas Carol movie, a silent version made for Edison Studios.

2. The Insect’s Christmas [1913]

One of the first stop-motion animations, by Russian filmmaker Wladyslaw Starewicz.

3. The Little Match Girl (La petite marchande d’allumettes) [1928]

A film by Jean Renoir based on the Hans Christian Anderson story.


4. Laurel and Hardy: March of the Wooden Soldiers  (Babes in Toyland) [1934]

Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try to borrow money from their employer, the toymaker, to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep’s shoe and keep it and Little Bo Peep from the clutches of the evil Barnaby.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]

Donna Reed really did knock the glass out of that window, and Jimmy Stewart really cries in the bar. You can find out cool trivia like that at the IMBd site.

6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer [1948]

The Max Fleischer version. All the two-leggedness is a little odd, but hey.

7. A Christmas Carol [Scrooge] 1951

Both Alastair Sim (as Scrooge) and Michael Hordern (as Marley) reprised their roles in A Christmas Carol (1971), and Hordern also appeared as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1977).

8. Peter Pan [1962]

You know, there’s no reason for this to be a Christmas movie other than that it was always broadcast between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So that’s how I’ve always thought of it.


9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer [1964]

I loved this as a child, and when I was a parent, I loved sharing it with my own kids. Somehow the Christmas special season became part of the anticipation. The triumverate of “good” Christmas specials – i.e., not cheesey, or with bad animation – were Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Neither of the other two are available in full online, though there is a nice animation of the Dr. Seuss book. We are all grateful that Star Wars: The Force Awakens does not suck, but The Star Wars Holiday Special was so bad that it has become infamous.

10. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians [1964]

About as bad as Rudolph is good.

11. A Christmas Carol [1984]

George C. Scott’s performance has received accolades, but what I find most interesting about this version is that the film is directed by Clive Donner, who had been an editor of the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim.

12. The Muppet Christmas Carol [1992]

Because, why not?

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Solstice or just another day above ground, I wish you well this holiday season.

Are any of your favorites here? What might you add?

Update 1/1/2016: Because, why not? Well, apparently because it was not a legitimate copy of the film. As with two others, including It’s a Wonderful Life, which became hugely popular precisely because the copyright had lapsed. But there are enough movies embedded in the comments to make up a dozen, and then some. At any rate, it will be interesting to see, when the season comes around next year, if there are still 12 free Christmas movies to be had.


50 thoughts on “The 12 Movies of Christmas

  1. Norah says:

    Interesting selection there Paula. Some I have watched, and some not. I would probably add Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and there is a third but I can’t remember it’s name. I thought it was called The Santa Claus Movie, but all I can find is reference to a Tim Allen movie, and it’s not that.
    Best wishes to you and your family for the Christmas season and 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic list! 🎄🎁❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow great list paula. Some were definitely new to me. Enjoyed watching :) :)


  4. ann reay says:

    I would add “The Lion in WInter” because it takes place on Xmas Eve. When I am feeling Krampus-y my go-to Xmas movie is forever “Die Hard” – the first one. When I was recovering from foot surgery and in pain I saw, through the haze of oxycontin,” Meet Me in Saint Louis” – and when Margaret O’Brien destroyed the snow people, I finally started to let that pain go. I am at heart a true sap and for that reason I will drift under the spell of “Love Actually” because Xmas and airports have always been a part of my experience of the season – and I love what the film says about Wisconsin. Good list, Paula. Merry Xmas.


    • Do you know, I’m not sure I have seen Die Hard. Someone else on Twitter mentioned it as a Christmas movie as well. And The Lion in Winter was so long ago, if I did see it, that I can not recall much. (I’m assuming you mean the 1968 movie with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn, not the less well known 2003 movie with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close?) Meet Me in St. Louis was something I watched with Katherine on one of her movie nights. My daughter loves Love Actually, and had me watch it with her the Christmas I spent in Chicago. Merry Christmas, my redoubtable Frau Perchta We are so happy to have you back in the Twin Cities. ;-)


  5. DeeScribes says:

    I watched Scrooge with Alistair Sim this weekend. It is still good!


  6. Soul Gifts says:

    Interesting selection. Will have to make time to watch some of them :) I am a big fan of good animated movies. The last one I saw was Inside Out. There is as much, if not more in them for adults as kids. I’m a big kid at heart anyway!


  7. pinkmenotmom says:

    Ah, your post brings back memories, Paula! Laurel & Hardy’s March of the Wooden Soldiers was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I will have to try to find it online to introduce it to the girls! Happy Christmas to you – I hope you have a lovely and peaceful holiday.


  8. TanGental says:

    Love all the versions of a Christmas Carol. There’s a new version on the Beb here this Christmas with Jim Broadbent in the role which should be fun. Our must watch for the last ten years has been Love Actually. My daughter and I settle down with turkey sarnies at ten pm and blubb our eyes out as well as laughing hard. Perfect end to a good Crimbo.


    • All right, Geoff, you’ll have to explain turkey sarnies and Crimbo… I do know what the Beb is. And yes, Jim Broadbent would be a good Scrooge. Although I think for me he will always be John Bayley, the husband of Iris Murdoch, a role in which he is both the brilliant husband of a brilliant woman and the archetype of all spouses caring for a partner with Alzheimers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        He was extraordinary. I think Broadbent played him in the film, Iris? Anyway Crimbo is slang for Christmas and turkey sarnies are the cold turkey and stuffing sandwiches mum made on Christmas evening a tradition now carried on in this house.


  9. Muppets Christmas Carol! Every time ‘light the light, not the rat..’ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary Rowen says:

    Great list, Paula! Need to make some time to watch some of these. Have never seen the Muppet Christmas Carol, but hope to this year. Thanks so much, and happy holidays! xo


  11. GigTog says:

    I loooove Christmas movies! I’ve already watched White Christmas three times! I’ve also seen Muppets Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, While a You Were Sleeping, Sleepless In Seattle, Christmas Vacation, Polar Express and It’s A Wonderful Life. Santa Claus with Dudley Moore and Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer are next lol!
    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Awesome! What about Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol? And of course White Christmas. My fav.


    • Yes, Mr. Magoo was one of my favorites – (though as a child it scared me just as much as any “real” version of A Christmas Carol might have) I have a link to it in the third paragraph but it’s not on a site where I could get embedding to work. I love White Christmas as well, though all I can find online in any legitimate format is the preview:

      Of course, Bing singing the song is easy to find. As is Holiday Inn, in which the song first appeared.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ray Defendorf says:

    Have a wonderful Christmas Paula. My recommendation is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with Loretta Swit. The Herdmans steal the show.The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


  14. Judith Post says:

    I loved the story The Little Matchgirl, but it breaks my heart. Don’t think I could watch it while wrapping presents:) They’d all be soggy. I love the movie A Christmas Story, about the little boy who wants a Red Ryder BB gun. I’ve yet to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I’ll have to put that on my “to do” list after the holidays settle down. Have a wonderful Christmas!


  15. jan says:

    I’d never heard of An Insect’s Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. vafayari says:

    Awesome collection of Christmas movies


  17. Wow! What a collection of films…we just watched the musical version of A Christmas Carol, starring Albert Finney singing his heart out. Quite another twist on that classic. I’m always struck by how timely Scrooge’s tale seems to be, given ongoing political and social issues Dickens raises. We’re reading the book as a holiday treat–so witty, too! Great post!


  18. elainemansfield says:

    I know a few of these. Jimmy Stewart . Thanks for sharing them, Paula. Family crashed around the house either sleeping after a red-eye flight or knitting or dozing. We made a wonderful Solstice altar this year. My sons dragged out my many boxes of sandtray figures (from the days when I worked psychologically with sand tray), so we have Dark Vadar, a red tractor driven by a baby, a sweet Baby Mohammed with a roughly hand carved Madonna from Lebanon, and on it goes. Many photos taken. Peter Pan and The Christmas Carol ring my bell.


    • I am looking forward to reading your solstice post. Sand tray figures, huh. I’m not quite sure how that works, but it sounds a little like the Godly Play stuff we used to do with Bible stories in children’s worship.


  19. Lidy says:

    Oh, I loved watching March of the Wooden Soldiers on TV growing up. I also loved The Flintstones and the Micky Mouse version of The Christmas Carol. And Miracle on 34th Street (the 1940s and 1990s version). And can’t forget Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad.The Santa Clause too.


    • I love Miracle on 34th Street. The 1994 version is available on one of those not-quite-reputable sites, as is the one everyone knows and loves, the 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and a young Natalie Wood. Interestingly, there is a 1955 version on YouTube I wasn’t even aware of:

      There is currently a version of Jingle All the Way on YouTube – “full version English” it says. But there is something very, very weird about the English. Everybody sounds like they’ve had a shot of helium.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. In our family, it’s “Scrooge” with Albert Finney and “A Christmas Story” with Peter Billingsley. And we just discovered the 2003 anime “Tokyo Godfathers,” as dark and as uplifting as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And definitely check out the 1982 Academy Award winning animated short, “The Snowman.” Except for the introduction, it’s nearly wordless:


  21. Austin says:

    Bad Santa and Die Hard are missing. :)


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