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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No “Scrooged?”

And if we’re doing TV (A Charlie Brown Christmas) what abvout the Waltons?

urban elitist on December 23, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Right. You’d watch a bunch of country people living their simple lives. You detest us, remember?

hawkdriver on December 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM

You cut me to the quick, Hawk, Pa coming back from the mill and spending all his money on presents, John-boy getting his paper and pencils so he can grow up to be writer, memorizing bible verses to get a present — including that saucy Song of Solomon bit. Who doesn’t love that stuff? Almost made me want to leave the suburbs for the hills.

And, to be clear, when I’m not arguing politics, I pretty much get along with everyone, including “country people living their simple lives.”

urban elitist on December 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM

And, to be clear, when I’m not arguing politics, I pretty much get along with everyone, including “country people living their simple lives.”

urban elitist on December 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I spent last evening with friends who live close by. Typical country people that I’m sure most liberals would make fun of behind their backs and probably be very uncomfortable being around. They’re definitely the type Hollywood makes fun of and accuse of being the very ill of this country. They’re a family that once came to a yard sale we’d had. Their son was pretty young at the time and he wanted a toy we were selling but didn’t have enough money. So I told him he needed to come up with a Bible verse to cover the rest. He came up with, “”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Guaranteed to get a chuckle out of the adults and the toy for free, right?) We’ve been friends since. All of our children went to the same Christian private school and for them, it was pretty much every cent they could scrape together to do it. I’ve seen that boy grow up and serve in the military over the last six years. I’ve sat with him and we’ve traded stories of our different times in theater. I’ve listened to his account of losing a friend in a firefight which changed his career direction from 11B to Medic. His accent is heavy Southern even for NC and his very name, Arliss, I’m sure would have you and your friends elbowing each other. He is the salt of the Earth as is the rest of his family.

I’m glad you at least share a TV show with folks like that.

hawkdriver on December 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

The one Christmas episode that really got to me was on Eight is Enough after the original mom, Diana Hyland passed away in real life. Tommy, played by Willie Aames, had been acting out while grieving for his TV mom.

He found a gift in a kitchen cabinet from her. His was the only gift she’d had time to buy before her death and she had written a note telling him how much she loved him.

A tearjerker!

GoodBoy on December 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM

A tearjerker!

GoodBoy on December 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM

It was.

hawkdriver on December 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM

“Electric sex,” lots of swearing (kids swearing!), & creepiness.
A Christmas Story is a dirty film that demeans the holyday.

On the other hand, The Nativity Story is not the most entertaining Christmas film, but it’s very uplifting.

itsnotaboutme on December 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Its a wonderful life and Charlie Brown Christmas. LOTS and lots of other great movies listed, but I’m a sucker for the ones I just listed. It would be perfect if they played back to back.

44Magnum on December 24, 2012 at 11:51 AM

My favorites:

It’s A Wonderful Life
A Charlie Brown Christmas

A recommendation:

Tinker Bell And The Secret Of The Wings

It isn’t a Christmas movie, but it has a winter theme. Heart warming, and very clever.

MichaelGabriel on December 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM

The answer is Bad Santa… It’s not even close…

I’ll tell you what it’s NOT THOUGH…

Home Alone 2
http://www.amazon.com/review/R3RBWNKS1U69DX/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Great review…

Washington Fancy on December 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM

PS,

“It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Hands down.

hawkdriver on December 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM

We’re No Angels with Humphrey Bogart is a personal favorite.

vcferlita on December 24, 2012 at 1:23 PM

We’re No Angels with Humphrey Bogart is a personal favorite.

vcferlita on December 24, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Me too! I thought I was the only one who knew about that movie. What’s not to Love? Super cast, sweet story, not to mention the 2 deaths by snake, and escaped convicts. LOL
Too bad it’s so outrageously priced on DVD but I do watch it on VUDU since my VHS tape bit the dust.
Have a great Christmas.

Deanna on December 24, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Ummm I vote for Love Actually and Gremlins

TinCanNav on December 24, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Sentimental hogwash.

Ted Torgerson on December 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Not sure how “The Year Without A Santa Clause” (Snow and Heat Miser) didn’t make the TV list…

right of the dial on December 24, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Sentimental hogwash.

Ted Torgerson on December 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Don’t you have some Carolers to chase off your lawn?

You’re kidding, right?

hawkdriver on December 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Steve Hayward at Powerline had a post on the Charlie Brown Christmas and how the CBS suits didn’t like the Scripture at the end.

Hayward pointed out one thing I never noticed before: when Linus starts reciting from the Gospel of Luke, he drops the security blanket – because he doesn’t need it.

Wethal on December 24, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Bob Hope in “The Lemon Drop Kid” just to hear William Frawley singing “Silver Bells” – “Chunk it in, chunk it in, let’s put some dough in the kitty”.
An all time favorite around here second only to Alastair Sim in “Scrooge”

And Charlie Brown – I watched it’s debut and have watched it ever since. Nothing else comes close.

Lockheed on December 24, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Sentimental hogwash.

Ted Torgerson on December 24, 2012 at 5:02 PM

.
Hang yeah … I take my hogwashing seriously.
I’m also very sentimental about it. What’s it to ya?

listens2glenn on December 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM

. . . . . Who doesn’t love that stuff? Almost made me want to leave the suburbs for the hills.

urban elitist on December 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM

.
.
I triple-dog dare you . . . . . : )

listens2glenn on December 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Linus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA

Merry Christmas to All!!

dddave on December 25, 2012 at 5:32 AM

“WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING”
BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY EVER
BEST MOVIE EVER
EVERY SINGLE MOMENT IS WORTH WATCHING AGAIN AND AGAIN.

MAC1000 on December 25, 2012 at 7:12 PM

My husband his a huge fan of “The Long Kiss Goodnight” which is a nightmareish choice!

MAC1000 on December 25, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Christmas day almost over, I broke down and turned on A Christmas Story, right when they get a flat tire bringing home the tree, and Ralphie says the bad word. I was transported to childhood, when Dad took us kids out the Henry J (the only car by Kaiser) on a snowy night to get a tree. He couldn’t find one cheap enough, but coming back the car blew the radiator cap about eight blocks from home. We had to push the car all the way home over crunchy snow pack. I thinks Dad said the bad word

Which brings a joke:
A guy gets a flat outside a mental asylum. Gets out his spare and jacks up the car. Inmates come up to the gate to watch. Guy removes the hubcap, and puts all the nuts into the hubcap. He stands up and kicks the hubcap over into the tall grass losing the nuts. He couldn’t figure out what to do, when an inmate yells “Why don’t you take one nut off each wheel, and that will give you enough to get the tire back on” Guy says “That’s brilliant. What’s a smart guy like you doing in a place like that?”. The inmate smiles and says “Hey, I may be crazy, but I ain’t stupid”

Here’s a little Christmas present for all those lug nuts out there. Peace be with you

entagor on December 25, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year, and have always enjoyed Stewart’s performance and the lovely Donna Reed. So many fun lines and portrayals.

But let us make no mistake — it’s just another idiot liberal movie. The most basic premise of the movie — angels aside — is that the “richest man in the county” is a miserly and evil money-grubber with no ethics or morals, who steals money from a savings and loan for which he serves on the Board of Directors and then presses charges against the Chief Executive for “malfeasance”.

This is patently absurd, but entirely consistent with the long-held view of the Hollywood left that successful businessmen are evil and immoral, but millionaire media and movie leftists are angels. Sorry to those who live in a sheltered little movie fantasy world, but this is just more propaganda which should be ridiculed and pushed back against.

Jaibones on December 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM

I’m a fan of A Christmas Story, if for no other reason than I watched it with my sister-in-law and her family from Shanghai a few years ago. She and her family were fascinated – as Chinese always are by movies that show “ordinary” American life – and still make jokes about “Chinese turkey” whenever we visit Shanghai.

One other tale: watching Jaws with them in Martha’s Vineyard was also loads of fun. Not wanting to freak them out on our trip, I showed it on the night before we went home.

foobarista on December 26, 2012 at 2:03 PM

The Waltons one is called “the homecoming”. It’s very good. I really liked “Three days” too. It has Kristin Davis and is only shown on one network once a year (apparently).

Redglen on December 26, 2012 at 2:44 PM

“Die Hard”

Opinionnation on December 26, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I’m late to the party, but here would have been my picks

What is the greatest Christmas feature film of all time? “It’s a Wonderful Life”

For next year’s poll maybe add ( “The Shop around the Corner” – also with James Stewart )

What is the greatest Christmas TV show of all time? I watched most of these growing up and loved all of them, but no one can unseat (IMO) “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as the defacto winner!

BTW Ed, I read your review on IMDB about “It’s a Wonderful Life” and, though I thoroughly enjoyed your review, this flim will always be a Christmas flim to me. :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Conservative_Hippie on December 28, 2012 at 11:27 AM

“WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING”
BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIE EVER
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY EVER
BEST MOVIE EVER
EVERY SINGLE MOMENT IS WORTH WATCHING AGAIN AND AGAIN.

MAC1000 on December 25, 2012 at 7:12 PM

Your post made me think about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rqhG2yT-58

Conservative_Hippie on December 28, 2012 at 11:34 AM

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