As the holiday season approaches, everyone will eat lots of food and sit down to watch classic holiday movies – and we all have our own favorites! I’ve got a list of the nine best holiday movies, including RARE behind-the-scenes photos from the set of “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and so much more!
First, get into the holiday spirit with Billy Mack’s “Christmas Is All Around”!
Thanks Billy, just what I needed to get into the holiday spirit! If you know this song, then you LOVE “Love Actually” – one of the NINE best holiday movies ever!
“Love Actually” is a series of inter-locking stories that take place during the holiday season: some are funny, and a few are sad – with an all-star cast including Kiera Knightley, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson.
So many terrific Actors in the film, and thanks to the great website IMDB, here is some terrific “Love Actually” trivia! Let’s start with this fun one:
The word “actually” is spoken twenty-two times by various characters in the film.
When casting the part of Sarah, Richard Curtis auditioned a great many British girls, but kept saying, “I want someone like Laura Linney…” The casting director eventually snapped and said:
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, get Laura Linney then!”
They brought her in and she of course got the part.
The idea for Mark’s surprise of the band singing “All You Need Is Love” at Peter and Juliet’s wedding came from Jim Henson’s funeral (which Richard Curtis attended) where all the puppeteers brought their Muppets and sung the song.
Colin Firth’s “Avocado Elbow!”
The lake that Lúcia Moniz and Colin Firth are “swimming” in was actually only eighteen inches deep and they had to kneel down and pretend to be in deeper water. It was also over-run by mosquitoes and Colin Firth was badly bitten and his elbow swelled up to the size of an avocado, requiring medical attention.
Billy Bob’s Fear Of Furniture!
Knowing about Billy Bob Thornton’s quite unique fear of antique furniture, Hugh Grant would sometimes flash a piece of antique (which is abundant in England) in front of Thornton just before the cameras rolled, and watch him freak out in amusement.
The airport greeting footage at the beginning and end of the film is real. Richard Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week, and whenever they saw something that would fit in they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage. Alex and I always wondered how excited these people must be to be in the film forever!
Thanks, Billy Mack!
“Christmas Is All Around” is now one of our favorite holiday songs thanks to Bill Nighy. With that tune in our heads, let’s see some of the other great holiday films, beginning with Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and the spirit of “Saturday Night Live”!
Get “Scrooged” and “Griswolded”!
Our next two great holiday films are screwball comedies with iconic stars!
“Scrooged” (1983) and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989) both are infused with SNL attitude – Bill Murray does an updated “Christmas Carol” as miserly TV exec Frank Cross – Murray is full of great lines and classic double takes, but the Actor also reveals his soft spot, in a film that has more of a manic energy than many holiday classics.
Check out the trailer:
Once you are “Scrooged”, you might as well go “Griswold!”
Let’s get right to this holiday hilarity with the Griswold family:
That’s right, welcome back to the Clark Griswold family – Chevy Chase takes his clan on another “Vacation”…yes, it’s just a holiday version of the first movie, so do they deserve a spot on the list? As Clark Griswold would say:
“Bend over and I’ll show you!”
OK, maybe a bit forward for the holiday…let’s go back to a simpler time…
The “White Christmas” (1954) / “Holiday Inn” (1942) Crosby Combo!
This double bill is a single entry in my top nine, because these two iconic holiday films star legendary Actors – and they are basically the same movie! In “Holiday Inn”, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are two war buddies who sing lots of classic Irving Berlin tunes, including the Oscar winning “White Christmas”…
The Song Becomes The Film!
“White Christmas” was such a great song that they decided to remake “Holiday Inn” and CALL it “White Christmas”! This time, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are two GIs coming home from WWII, who fall in love with singing-and-dancing sisters and help their general with his failing Vermont inn. Again, almost the same film, but both of classic Hollywood holiday entertainment! A great double bill!
This ain’t your father’s holiday movie, which is why is MUST be on a top nine list! How can you NOT love a film with the classic line:
“Fuck me, Santa, Fuck Me!”
So says Lauren Graham in a movie that wears its dark heart on its sleeve…forget the sequel if you want, but this original caustic comedy is one of the best! Here is the trailer:
It’s the perfect movie to watch after all of your horrendous holiday shopping – fighting crowds, no parking, enormous bills – and it’s virtually impossible to watch without a stiff drink in your hand. But it is hilarious, profane and touching as well!
Here’s another holiday charmer:
Happy Holidays, Del Griffith!
And now, the funniest holiday movie character ever, the legendary Del Griffith!
“Planes, Trains & Automobiles”!
I know, it takes place over Thanksgiving, but it’s a holiday movie through and through, and Del Griffith deserves to be here – as it is one of the most heartwarming holiday movies ever!
It’s the classic story of a guy just trying to get home to his family in times for the holidays. “Here’s an idea. When you tell a story, have a point!” And who can forget Del Griffith pulling his socks off on the plane, waving them around and exclaiming “the dogs are barking!”
And of course, as you can see above:
“those aren’t pillows!”
I rest my case. Just one of the sweetest holiday films ever…see more great trivia here:
I love Del Griffith – and you know who else I love?
Buddy the Elf of course! Will Ferrell’s best film by a mile – check out the trailer:
Will Ferrell is innocent and perfect as Buddy – the elf who heads to New York City to find his real father – a very unfriendly James Caan. Add Ed Asner as a slightly grumpy Santa PLUS Zooey Deschanel as the “innocent love” interest and you have an instant holiday classic!
Speaking of holiday classics:
Congratulations To Director Bob Clark!
Time to celebrate the seriously under-rated Director Bob Clark, who directed the classic holiday film “A Christmas Story” – literally one of the most quoted holiday movies ever! Need an example?
“You’ll shoot your eye out with that thing!”
It makes me want to have chinese food on Dec. 25th just to honor him. This is arguably the best Christmas movie of all time – the encounter with the frozen tether ball pole is just one reason…
And who can forget Dad’s new lamp – look at this terrific TBS ad for the movie that captures the fun of that scene…
It is a holiday classic, directed by Canadian Bob Clark, an under-appreciated Director…check out the trailer:
So funny, so heartwarming! That said, Bob Clark also directed the little-known classic horror film “Black Christmas”, where a sorority is terrorized by a manic over the holidays. He perfected the killer’s POV shot years before “Halloween” got credit for revitalizing it. The thriller stars Kier Dullea (2001) and Margo Kidder (Superman)…dark, dark, dark, but what a Bob Clark holiday double bill – just make sure to send the kids to bed before you start this second feature!
Added trivia: Clark also created and directed “Porky’s”…talk about an eclectic career – read all about it here:
And now, the last film – the ninth film being honored on this list – because it’s the “Citizen Kane” of holiday films:
“It’s A Wonderful Life”!
The greatest holiday movie of all! Jimmy Stewart, the Tom Hanks of his generation, beautifully portrays a disillusioned husband and father who sees his life amount to nothing – or so he thinks.
This Frank Capra classic is a dark look at one man’s disappointment with his life – of course all coming to a head on Christmas eve – and the film reveals a ton of universal truths about what we should or should not expect from life – remember this line: “we serve stiff drinks for men who want to get drunk fast!” I mean, this movie gets DARK…
Rare “Bedford Falls” Photos!
LIFE Magazine has revealed 13 rare behind-the-scenes photos from the set of the 1946 Frank Capra classic. The pictures focus on one aspect of the holiday favorite that many probably take for granted: the snowy milieu of Bedford Falls!
So as you can see, they used snow machines to create the beautiful serenity of the town:
Looks like Jimmy Stewart had a few snowballs tossed back in his direction during filming!
I will admit that, in some ways, Pottersville always looked a lot more fun than Bedford Falls – like a mini-Vegas! But no matter what life through at George Bailey, he always had a secret weapon…
That’s right – Zuzu’s pedals!
Send me a note and let me know what you watched this holiday season!
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