OK, so I'm rarely in jeopardy, but I write woman-in-jeopardy novels—otherwise called "Modern Gothics"—and this is my blog. It will probably have lots of time between posts, but I'll try not to bore you. Welcome.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Films

While You Were Sleeping

This is, hands down, my favourite time of year, so I was very, very excited to come across Marg and Kailana's awesome annual Virtual Advent Tour, and even more thrilled when they let me sign up to participate (an author sneaking in amongst the bloggers, here :-)

Every year, come the first of December, my family lets out a collective groan as I begin to haul out my collection of holiday films. There used to be an unwritten rule in our house that only Christmas DVDs and videos got played in the few weeks before the holiday, but over the past few years that's been relaxed a bit.

Still, there are films without which Christmas just doesn't seem to be Christmas, for me, so I watch them each yearon my own, if I have to. Apart from the more well-known ones, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, the black-and-white original Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which I never actually saw as a child, believe it or not, but fell in love with in my twenties), and the classic Alastair Sim version of Scrooge, retitled A Christmas Carol for us North Americans (which I still watch every Christmas Eve, in keeping with our family's long tradition), I have some that have become my special favourites...

In 1978 I was twelve and already a sucker for romance, and I fell in love with the made-for-TV film The Gift of Love, starring a young Marie Osmond and Timothy Bottoms in a story inspired by O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi". I watch it each year for its sweetness, its shameless romance, and its message that love truly is the best and bravest gift that we can give each other. (And as a bonus, you get to see a young James Woods before he started playing evil bad guys...)

A few years before that, while visiting my grandparents for our annual pre-Christmas Christmas dinner, I had snuggled with my family in my Grampa's den, with its wood-panelled walls and slowly ticking clocks, the organ and the colour console television set (we only had a black and white set at our own house, in those days) and watched enthralled as Albert Finney scowled and danced and made me cry in Scrooge, the musical.

I remembered it for years until, in 1983, when after living in Korea for two years we moved to Texas, we saw it listed in our TV guide and bought a tape so we could have our own recording of it (no such thing as Netflix, way back then). That tape was worn through by the time I found a proper copy I could buy, but I can watch this one a hundred times and never tire of seeing Anton Rogers sing and dance his way through "Thank You Very Much". It holds up well, and never fails to make me cry.

While You Were Sleeping makes me cry, too, but in a good way. My sister introduced me to this film when I was staying with her one year. I was single then, and something in this film just struck a chord with me—the whole idea of loneliness and wanting to find somebody to share your Christmas with—I just connected with the character of Lucy. And although I'm not alone now, this is still a favourite film of mine to watch each year. Is anything more perfect than the moment that Bill Pullman gives her Florence? I don't think so. And this movie doesn't only make me cry, it makes me laugh. Out loud, in places, which is always a good thing.

Not being alone means I've had to expand my traditions a little. One year, after suffering through yet another of my Christmas Eve playings of the old Alastair Sim Scrooge, my husband got up from the sofa and put in his own movie: Die Hard. When I raised an eyebrow, he said, "It's a Christmas movie, too." And he was absolutely right. It is. So every year now, once the kids have gone to bed, we watch Bruce Willis battle Alan Rickman. Because nothing's quite as Christmassy as having a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.

Finally, it's not exactly a movie, but it's always at the heart of my Christmas video viewing: Leo Buscaglia's Stories of Christmas Love. I first saw this on PBS years and years ago, and each year I use it to centre myself in the midst of the holiday chaos; to remind me what Christmas is really about. Here's a taste of it:

So there you are: my own favourite selection of holiday films. What are yours?


  1. Hahaha, your husband totally sounds like my boyfriend - he says that "the only Christmas movie I like is Die Hard!" LOL.

    I have so many favourite holiday movies - Home Alone, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and this other that I haven't seen since I was a child but still remember extremely fondly: Santa Claus. It stars Dudley Moore as an elf and John Lithgow as the exec of a toy making company. I should really look into seeing if I can purchase a copy of that movie. Hmm.

    Thanks for sharing your favourite Christmas movies with us!

  2. I love the holiday films, and I love reading your books. I found your blog today through the Virtual Advent Tour. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

  3. I never really thought about Die Hard being a Christmas movie but you're totally right! I may have to add that into the rotation at my house too!

  4. Oh, I LOVE While You Were Sleeping. Such a great ensemble piece! I also love The Bishop's Wife -- the original Cary Grant one, not the terrible remake. Christmas movies are so much fun :)

  5. great picks and I kind of love that Die Hard is in there. Scrooged used to top my list but I have become a HUGE fan of the movie ELF. Mostly in part due to my kids but we laugh so hard EVERY time we watch it. Oh, and yes, it makes me tar up every time as well.

  6. Court, I love Dudley Moore. I remember that movie coming out, but never actually watched it. I'll have to put it on my list this year.

    Kaye, thanks for finding me! Glad you like the books. And isn't the Virtual Advent Tour such a great idea? I'm discovering so many new bloggers through Kelly & Marg's hard work.

    Christa, you totally should add Die Hard to the mix. I can't imagine Christmas Eve without it, now. You get action, romance, and a whole bunch of good-looking guys, including Alan Rickman, being Terribly Resourceful and Intelligent. A true holiday treat.

    Melwyk, I didn't even know there was a remake of The Bishop's Wife. How could anyone top Cary Grant? And yes, the whole cast is so good in While You Were Sleeping. You can tell they had a lot of fun making that movie, from Elsie with her camera flashes right down to the creamy mashed potatoes!

    Alisha, I've never seen Elf, either. One more new one for me to try.

    Thanks everyone, for coming by!

  7. Love your choices! My favorite is definitely How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but lately Elf has been playing in our house a lot. It's so funny! I'm stopping by from the Virtual Advent tour.
    Pamela at http://www.ireaddoyou.blogspot.com/

  8. I like your tradition to haul out the Christmas movies this time of year! You listed some great ones too that you enjoy! We would do a similar thing when the kids were still at home; watch a Christmas movie one a night between Thanksgiving and Christmas; so fun to do! May you and your family have a great Christmas season!


  9. I had completely forgotten that While You Were Sleeping was set at Christmas! I think I am going to have to spend some time watching some films to come up with some new favourites!

    Thanks so much for participating in the tour! Kelly and I were thrilled when you joined in!

  10. Pamela, I adore the Grinch. We only got two TV channels when I was growing up, and for some reason I never saw him as a child, but when I moved down to "the City" my new friends soon set me straight :-)

    Betty, I do love my Christmas movies. My kids used to go along with my rule, but now they're a bit older and want to sneak in the occasional non-holiday movie as well, so I let them. For now.

    Marg, it's surprising how many Christmas films there actually are, when you start looking for them. And thanks so much again, to both you and Kelly, for organizing this awesome tour and letting me come along!

  11. My children love the Grinch along with the Muppet Christmas Carol, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Elf and the Polar Express. We also enjoy the Santa Clause movies, my husband loves Tim.
    My favourite is White Christmas :)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  12. I have never watched many Christmas movies. I was thinking this year I should branch out and watch some of the 'famous' ones, so I will be using your suggestions for sure!

    Thanks for participating!

  13. Hi Shelleyrae. The Muppet Christmas Carol is also one of our annual must-watch movies. I've long been a big Michael Caine fan, and I adore the way he plays Scrooge in this one (he even sings!).

  14. I love While You Were Sleeping! That and Love Actually are my favourite Christmas movies.

  15. I never thought of While You Were Sleeping as a Christmas film. I guess it' is though. I loved that movie but hadn't really thought of it until I read this post. I now need to watch it again soon.

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