What’s the greatest Christmas movie of all time? Update: More options added

posted at 4:01 pm on December 22, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

My wife and I ran across Christmas Vacation on the television last night, and realized that we hadn’t started our Christmas movie viewing season yet.  We’ll probably get cracking tonight, with some annual favorites like A Christmas StoryIt’s a Wonderful Life, and maybe even White Christmas – which I haven’t seen in years, but glimpsed while channel-flipping last weekend.  We will watch The Nativity Story on Christmas Eve, probably after attending Mass, and hopefully can squeeze a few more in, too.

This time of year brings a familiar debate among Christmas-movie aficionados: what is the greatest Christmas movie of all time?  Marist attempted to answer that with a poll released today, and which will almost certainly resolve nothing. However, it does show a swap at the top position that might just poke yer eye out, kid:

According to this Marist Poll, 26% of adults nationally cite A Christmas Story as their favorite holiday movie.  It’s a Wonderful Life is preferred by 24%.  Miracle on 34th Street warms the hearts of 16% while 13% enjoy watching Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney croon in White Christmas.  An additional 13% say A Christmas Carol is their favorite holiday flick, and 9% are unsure.

When Marist last asked this question in 2010, 24% of U.S. residents said It’s a Wonderful Life was their choice for classic holiday movie compared with 23% for A Christmas StoryMiracle on 34th Street received 22% while 13% said A Christmas Carol was their holiday staple.  12% most enjoyed White Christmas, and 5% were unsure.

There is an age gap.  Nearly four in ten adults under 45 years old — 39% — currently prefer A Christmas Story while 31% of Americans 45 and older say It’s a Wonderful Life is their favorite holiday film.

How about the traditional animated features? “Traditional” is the right word.  A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tie for top honors with 24% each. How the Grinch Stole Christmas — the Boris Karloff version, not the ersatz Jim Carrey monstrosity — comes in third.  Polar Express comes in fourth for its first showing ever, followed by the oddly psychedelic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.  Frosty the Snowman, alas, comes in last.

That just seems wrong.  Let’s take a look at the sample, where the D/R/I is … aw, I’m just kidding.  But let’s take a poll ourselves here at Hot Air for both categories.  What are the best Christmas movies/specials of all time?  I’ll post a clip of the winners on Christmas Day, so be sure to check back to see how your favorites are doing.

Two notes: I’ve moved Polar Express to the movie list, rather than the TV list as Marist did. Also, if you have any other suggestions in either category, feel free to e-mail them to the tips line, and I’ll add them to the poll.

My selections would probably be It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas, although the little-known Little Drummer Boy isn’t bad, either.  Of course, I have argued in the past that while It’s a Wonderful Life is set at Christmas, it’s really more of an Easter story.  Read my old review at IMDB and see if you don’t agree.

Update: By popular demand in the first 100 comments, I’ve added the following films to the first poll: Die Hard, The Ref, Elf, The Santa Clause, Prancer, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Frost, Bells of St. Mary’s. Loved The Ref myself, but I’m still sticking with my choices above.

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It’s a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story (I’m a lifelong fan of Shep)

The Rogue Tomato on December 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

You won’t poke yer eye on on these, kid.

Editor!!!

Gohawgs on December 22, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Is the “Little drummer boy” even on tv anymore?

I haven’t seen that in years.

BallisticBob on December 22, 2012 at 4:05 PM

A Christmas Story.

Without a Doubt.

As for TV:

Charlie Brown all the way.

(a major network wouldn’t produce a swhow like that one today)

Tim_CA on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Diehard

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

I let Mom cast the votes. She went with, It’s a Wonderful Life and Charlie Brown.

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Nestor the Long-eared Christmas Donkey.

justltl on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is on tonight.

Wethal on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Not the greatest. But standing the test of time better than I thought, Elf.

Smiling is my favorite.

swamp_yankee on December 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM

The Ref. Love that movie.

Fallon on December 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM

I watched Prancer last week before I left on holiday.

I really liked it and had never seen it before.

JPeterman on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Nothing beats lines like “Eat my rubber” and “sh*tter was full.” I love all the traditional Christmas movies, but nothing keeps me laughling like “Christmas Vacation.”

bopbottle on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

)1 It’s a Wonderful Life
)2 A Christmas Carol, any of them
Those are my picks.
L

letget on December 22, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Die Hard, Die Hard 2.

Honorable mention goes to Lethal Weapon.

CPL 310 on December 22, 2012 at 4:10 PM

I went with a couple not listed. A Nightmare Before Christmas and The Sid Vicious Christmas Special.

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Too many!

It’s a Wonderful Life
Christmas Story
Shop Around the Corner
White Christmas

There are also movies that have a Christmas scene, which are worth seeing, e.g., A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where the girl & her little brother win a Christmas tree by being able to catch it together.

Blake on December 22, 2012 at 4:13 PM

I have never watch any of the tv kids Christmas movies, so I didn’t vote.
L

letget on December 22, 2012 at 4:13 PM

DERP!!!!!

“ELF”………”You’re not Santa!”

Must add to list.

PappyD61 on December 22, 2012 at 4:13 PM

What, no Die Hard?

RadClown on December 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

A Christmas Carol, Alistair Sims version.

Blake on December 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

The Lion In Winter

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Diehard

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Indeed.

Solaratov on December 22, 2012 at 4:15 PM

Diehard

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

LOL- Odd, that’s my 13 year old daughters’ favorite too.

Mine are It’s A Wonderful Life and The Grinch

Night Owl on December 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Easy. Miracle on 34th Street. For kids, Christmas is all about magic and wonder and mystery, and that movie trumps all the others. I guess I’m just an old fart. 9 votes? Seriously??

Paul-Cincy on December 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Aw… I forgot about that one.

Fallon on December 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Favorite Xmas film is About a Boy.

Favorite Xmas TV show is the Scrubs episode where Turk has lost his faith and then rediscovers it under a tree in the park.

Favorite Xmas song is Otis Redding’s version of Merry Christmas Baby.

bobs1196 on December 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Speaking of the Grinch………how about Grinch meets Michael Jackson.

http://youtu.be/9Co4Hi4VxLU

It’s a Thriller!

PappyD61 on December 22, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians gets neglected again.

viking01 on December 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Christmas Carol starring Alistair Simms.

The only version worth watching.

Ufdaubet on December 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

The Godfather (though actually there is more Christmas in the made-for-TV Godfather Saga)
What, you think that’s not a Christmas movie – watch it again.

HammerNH on December 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

My favorite Christmas song is a c/w by Garth Brooks, The Gift.
L

letget on December 22, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I voted for A Christmas Story because I just love that movie. Jean Shepherd was a great story teller. It’s not the “greatest” or “best,” but it’s my favorite.

Christmas Vacation is the funniest, though.

Nothing on TV is close to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph comes in 2nd for me on that one. I’ve grown to appreciate it more and more. Grinch is 3rd just because I can’t look at the Grinch himself anymore without thinking of the terrible movie version.

AScott on December 22, 2012 at 4:22 PM

Rambo: First Blood Part II

The gift of freedom, delivered with an absolute minimum of Ho-Ho-Ho.

(Actually, the “absolute minimum of Ho-Ho-Ho” is the important part. Also, no kids.)

PersonFromPorlock on December 22, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Bah. Humbug.

davidk on December 22, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Les Miserables… opens in theaters Christmas Day.

WordsMatter on December 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

A Christmas carol (George C Scott version)
A Christmas Story
Die Hard
Charlie Brown
Christmas Vacation.

portlandon on December 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Band of Brothers, Battle of the Bulge episodes.

Erich66 on December 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

While Christmas Story is a very, very close second, NOTHING beats Clark W Griswold at Christmas time!! Also gotta love the Burgermeister Meister Burger, Santa Claus is Comin to Town.

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM

What about Home Alone?

RedRobin145 on December 22, 2012 at 4:27 PM

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Doing okay?

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

There is a difference between, “What is the greatest Christmas movie of all time,” and, “What is your favorite Christmas movie.”

I voted “Wonderful Life” to answer the question. But “A Christmas Story” is my favorite. I can watch it all day, happily.

It was on the other night, and I was thinking: Part of the reason this movie is so popular, I think, is it harkens back to the days when we just naturally had Christmas in school and everywhere, and it was okay to have fun.

Today, the government tries to ruin any fun they ever run across. (The Hemingway cats,for instance.). Now, when anybody wishes someone else a merry Christmas, it’s practically a federal case, and if anyone tries to do anything about Christmas in school, it IS a federal case. We’ve got atheists making sure people can’t practice local traditions (the city with the crèche scenes, for instance), while putting up grinchy billboards telling people their beliefs and their traditions are stupid. We’ve got people out the wazoo declaring they are “offended” by the very existence of, mention of, or sign of, Christianity. (Offending Christians, though, is okay.)

A Christmas Story is about a time when people were allowed to have fun without the government, its many fans and statist minions, and sundry atheists trying to make people feel guilty about it.

Alana on December 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Oh yeah, every year my old high school crowd meets up
to to watch Silent Night, Deadly Night. We rented it for a Christmas party in 1992, and reenact the party for fun. Its the corniest Christmas slashed film ever!

portlandon on December 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Miracle on 34th street original black and white version and Charlie Brown…

sandee on December 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

The Lion In Winter

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Oh, yes. The family from hell. lol!

Blake on December 22, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I went with A Christmas Story and Grinch…I do not like the “sappy-feel-good” Lifetime Christmas stories, but I do love the Dr. Who Christmas Specials.

HawaiiLwyr on December 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Gosh I just love Christmas movies. My favorite has to be Miracle on 34th St. My eyes always get dusty when Kris speaks Dutch to the little orphan girl. What is so great about the movie is that it really is a triumph of the good of Christmas over the cynical modern world. Kris might not be Santa but all he wants to do is spread joy. He ultimately gets helped in this goal because of cynical businessmen looking for profits, cynical politicians looking for votes, and cynical newspapers looking for stories.

As for TV.. Charlie Brown Xmas tree.

Illinidiva on December 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Love, actually

Great movie.

portlandon on December 22, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Doing great! I hope all is well with you and your family. Still hurtin from the election but concentrating on the bad guys here to get us through that and Christmas.

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Muppet Christmas Carol.

thinkingthought on December 22, 2012 at 4:34 PM

I went with Scrooged. Not because it was a great movie (even thought Carol Kane was awesome in that) but because it evokes fond family memories one of the last times my immediate family all went to a theater as a family.

I suspect that at the heart of every poll response is some kernel of much the same nostalga that has nothing to do with with cinematic brilliance. Because, face it, some of the top favorites are pretty bad when it comes to quality.

Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Christmas Vacation is our family tradition. We watch it every year, right after decorating our Christmas tree. We also like to watch an old movie called The Juggler of Notre Dame.

Aodhan on December 22, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Die Hard

portlandon on December 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

LMFAO

Tim_CA on December 22, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Its Twerp with her Bunny suit.

Tell Cozmo ASAP.

SparkPlug on December 22, 2012 at 4:39 PM

How many people remember watching Charlie Brown brought to you every year by Dolly Madison cakes and pies? Careful, you’re probably dating yourselves to admit it!

Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:41 PM

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM

We are okay. My Mom says thank you to you and all ours there. Merry Christmas, stay safe, we love ya!

Bmore on December 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM

At Christmas, I always enjoy seeing:

The Bishop’s Wife (1947) with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young (TCM will be showing this a couple of times on Sunday night)

We’re No Angels (1955), with Bogart, Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray and Basil Rathbone

Donovan’s Reef (1963), with John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Cesar Romero, and Dorothy Lamour. Takes place in the South Pacific at Christmastime. A bit silly.

Reno_Dave on December 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM

No Mr. Hanky?

Tim_CA on December 22, 2012 at 4:43 PM

I don’t really like Christmas that much. I just think we overdo it, and I’m already sick of it by the time it gets here.

So I was with my son at a movie one July, when on comes a long loud trailer for Polar Express.

I hated the trailer, and in the silence at its conclusion I couldn’t help saying out loud to my son, “I hate Christmas”. The people around us heard me and started laughing. I enjoyed making them laugh. So that’s my Christmas movie memory.

juliesa on December 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Love the Bishop’s Wife. The Empty Stocking sermon is wonderful.

Illinidiva on December 22, 2012 at 4:45 PM

“And why is the carpet all wet, Todd!?”

“I don’t know Margo?”

“Where you gonna put a tree that size?”

“Bend over and I’ll show you”

“You gotta a lot of nerve Griswold”

“I wasn’t talking about you”

Hahaha classic lines…

Russ, Russ, go find my hammer…

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Stalag 17

Rixon on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Thanks, Bmore and your family!

g2825m on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Ok, I just admitted being a curmudgeon, but the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas scene in Meet Me in St Louis always makes me cry.

juliesa on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM

juliesa on December 22, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Don’t be so grinchy!

Have an eggnog with me.

Tim_CA on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Christmas Carol starring Alistair Simms.

The only version worth watching.

Ufdaubet on December 22, 2012 at 4:19 PM

1951 — Alistair Simms
But what’s wrong with
1938 — Reginald Owen
?

Paul-Cincy on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM

The Bishop’s Wife (1947) with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young (TCM will be showing this a couple of times on Sunday night)
Reno_Dave on December 22, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Good choice but not the remake.

JPeterman on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Surprised that no one has mentioned the great one from 1942, “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, with the inimitable Monty Woolley.
One of his co-stars was Jimmy Durante.

Turner Classic Movies is showing this starting tonight at 6 PM ET.

As for the animated Christmas shows, a friend e-mailed me this morning that also tonight, NBC is bringing back “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol”, which first aired in 1962 and last aired in 1967. That is at 8 PM.

Del Dolemonte on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I’d think The Santa Clause, with Tim Allen, would poll better than Scrooged or Christmas Vacation.

I’d also recommend for everyone here the Ernst Lubitsch movie “The Shop Around the Corner” also with Jimmy Stewart. It’s a great movie, rates an 8 at IMDB. It’s not all about Christmas but it leads up to it and ends at Christmas.

Dusty on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

I have never watch any of the tv kids Christmas movies, so I didn’t vote.

A Christmas Story isn’t really a kids film-although kids enjoy it. It’s a movie adults love which is what’s made it so popular, I think.

To the poster who said, Love, Actually….for shame! It’s a truly awful film. So antiAmerican…in that particularly cartoonish way that only the ignorant Brits can do. So awful a movie, in fact, the hilarious Redeye devoted a whole segment to ripping it to shreds.

kit9 on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

It’s a Wonderful Life is the greatest, with Miracle on 34th Street a close second. I also have a soft spot for The Santa Clause with Tim Allen.

changer1701 on December 22, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Love Actually. Not a Christmas movie, per se, but a great feel-good movie that takes place during the Christmas season. My wife and I make watching it a holiday tradition.

HiJack on December 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics is very good.

I especially like Mr. Garrison’s rendition of “Merry F&*#ing’ Christmas”.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/151728/merry-fing-christmas

Reno_Dave on December 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM

THIS one didn’t make the list?

I have lost all hope :/

JetBoy on December 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM

I’d also recommend for everyone here the Ernst Lubitsch movie “The Shop Around the Corner” also with Jimmy Stewart. It’s a great movie, rates an 8 at IMDB. It’s not all about Christmas but it leads up to it and ends at Christmas.

Dusty on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Such a fine film. For enduring memories, give me black and white any day over color. Even “The Godfather” I remember as B&W, with its dark tones.

Paul-Cincy on December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

“Electric sex,” lots of swearing, & creepiness.

A Christmas Story is a dirty film that demeans the holyday.

itsnotaboutme on December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Die Hard.

ladyingray on December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Miracle on 34th street original black and white version and Charlie Brown…

sandee on December 22, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Yeah, I’ve never seen 34th Street, believe it or not, so I tried to watch it the other night on tv.

The colors made me nauseous. I saw about 10 minutes then had to bail.

juliesa on December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Holiday Inn and Christmas in Connecticut are being left out, Barbara Stanwyck was one hot number. But a Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street (black and white version) are the best.

major dad on December 22, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Bells of St. Mary’s is one of favorite Christmas movies. I’m surprised it didn’t even get a sniff from the pollster.

Over30 on December 22, 2012 at 4:53 PM

A couple of nights ago on Fox News Red Eye, they spent the entire “Halftime Report” discussing Love Actually. Pretty funny:

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/red-eye/index.html#/v/2049038759001/halftime-report-122112/?playlist_id=86926

Reno_Dave on December 22, 2012 at 4:54 PM

A Christmas Story is a dirty film that demeans the holyday.

itsnotaboutme on December 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

lol.

Elaborate…please.

Tim_CA on December 22, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Almost all Christmas movies suck…really bad… The only one that I can tolerate a bit is Scrooge…

mnjg on December 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

[Paul-Cincy on December 22, 2012 at 4:46 PM]

I like both and the 1984 one with George C Scott.

The ’38 version is better at representing the state of London in the period it is set, though. The Sim’s version tidied up the environment too much.

Dusty on December 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

A Christmas Carol, George C. Scott version (don’t care for the others)
A Charlie Brown Christmas, followed by Rudolph & Grinch as a trinity.

rbj on December 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

George C Scott A Christmas Carol. He was the ultimate pompus ass.

faol on December 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM

A Christmas Story isn’t really a kids film-although kids enjoy it. It’s a movie adults love which is what’s made it so popular, I think.

kit9 on December 22, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Same case could be made for Charlie Brown. Tiny little people you’d like to come across at some cocktail party.

Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM

A Charlie Brown Christmas, followed by Rudolph & Grinch as a trinity.

rbj on December 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Absolutely. They are all together at the top for me.

juliesa on December 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

I’d also recommend for everyone here the Ernst Lubitsch movie “The Shop Around the Corner” also with Jimmy Stewart. It’s a great movie, rates an 8 at IMDB. It’s not all about Christmas but it leads up to it and ends at Christmas.

Turner Classic Movies will be showing this on Monday at 5PM PST.

Reno_Dave on December 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

George C Scott A Christmas Carol. He was the ultimate pompus ass.

faol on December 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM

No! That honor goes to the current rat-eared bastard infesting the White House.

Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Mark1971 on December 22, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Good choice. Too bad they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

This time of year…spend lots of time on the Hallmark channel…grandkids get into it better than the pap on the alphabet networks.

coldwarrior on December 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

[JetBoy on December 22, 2012 at 4:50 PM]

I missed that one entirely. It looks good and will have to watch. Thanks.

Dusty on December 22, 2012 at 5:01 PM

George C Scott A Christmas Carol. He was the ultimate pompus ass.

faol on December 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM

No! That honor goes to the current rat-eared bastard infesting the White House.

Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Pompus ass not dumbass.

faol on December 22, 2012 at 5:01 PM

…A Christmas Carol…the older the version…the better…every chance I get.
The other day…I watched the George C. Scott version twice…three days in a row.

KOOLAID2 on December 22, 2012 at 5:03 PM

what, no Black Christmas or Silent Night Deadly Night fans in here???

GhoulAid on December 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM

I’ve got to throw in my two cents for a very old movie, but one that is a delightful fairy tale: Laurel and Hardy’s BABES IN TOYLAND from 1934.

SagebrushPuppet on December 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM

[Happy Nomad on December 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM]

Yeah. Just about everyone has grown up knowing Charlie Brown, so people will have a fondness for it because of the events surrounding it. Same for the The Christmas Story. I don’t know of a better movie for so easily letting one relate it to one’s own childhood.

Dusty on December 22, 2012 at 5:09 PM

If you’re not watching the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim, you’re not watching the right one.

kagai on December 22, 2012 at 5:09 PM

A Christmas Carol: The Musical version with Albert Finney.
I Like Life!

rob verdi on December 22, 2012 at 5:16 PM

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