We all need a break from the holiday rush. Here’s our list of beloved films – longer and shorter – to watch during your downtime, right here in this post. They’re all full-length. Some are not about the holiday season per se, although they have somehow become go-to movies to watch then, at least in some countries.
We hope you’ll sit back, relax and enjoy the ride through this YouTube of time!
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)
If you’re from Germany, you may be more familiar with the 1980 TV movie starring Alec Guinness and the extremely adorable Ricky Schroder. That particular version of the film has become a holiday favorite. This is a much earlier incarnation – also decently rated on IMDB – which you can watch for free, legally via YouTube.
The plot: “After the death of Cedric’s English father, he and his mother live together in Brooklyn. [His] grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt, had disowned Cedric’s father when he married an American. But when the Earl’s remaining son dies, he accepts Cedric as Lord Fauntleroy, his heir, and… sends for [them in Brooklyn]. Cedric uses the first of his newly found wealth to do some favors for his old friends, and then heads to England, where he must try to overcome the Earl’s dislike for [his] mother,” among other ills, with his sweet, mature disposition.
Dinner for One (1963)
In 1963, German TV station NDR recorded the British comedy sketch live in its original version, with a brief German intro. It went “viral” in a way YouTube videos probably never will: not only did it become popular in various countries (from Central Europe to Scandinavia to the Baltics across to Australia), but also timeless.
Dinner for One has become “the most frequently repeated TV programme ever,” says Wikipedia. Those in Germany or Denmark with access to a TV will probably watch this right before midnight on New Year’s Eve, a long-held tradition. In case you won’t, or can’t get enough of it, here it is, in its original 1963 version. It’s funnier, of course, if you’re drinking along with the butler in the film.
At a glance: An old lady used to throw a dinner every year for her friends, but has outlived them all. The butler has stood in for each of them since at the annual occasion, and becomes increasingly drunk and hilarious as he pours each of them drinks and impersonates them.
As you probably know, this is one of the major holiday classics that’s actually about Christmas.
At a glance: Scrooge “was the first sound version of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, not counting a 1928 short subject that now appears to be lost. (…) The 1935 film differs from all other versions of the story in one significant way – most of the ghosts… are not actually shown onscreen, although their voices are heard. Only the Ghost of Christmas Present is actually seen in full figure – the Ghost of Christmas Past is a mere shape with no discernible facial features, Marley’s Ghost is seen only briefly as a face on the door knocker, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is just an outstretched pointing finger.”
Babes in Toyland (1934)
This ranks 5th on Nerve.com’s “The 100 Best Christmas Movies of All Time.”
Micro review: “Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s adventure through the fantasy world of Toyland may be one of the most uproarious movies of all time, Christmas-themed or not. You could plop the duo in a Judd Apatow movie today and their comedy would click — they’re that universal. Surrounding them is pure imagination, with costumes and sets ranging from horrifying to goofy. Laurel and Hardy at the top of their game.”
Meet John Doe (1941)
This star-studded, Oscar-nominated Frank Capra film may have landed into public domain by accident. Lucky for us! Its plot is especially relevant in this era of rampant fake news (you’ll see why), and it still qualifies as a holiday movie. It ranks at number 50 on Boston.com’s “Top 50 holiday movies of all time.”
The plot: “Infuriated at being told to write one final column after being laid off from her newspaper job, Ann Mitchell (Barbara Stanwyck) prints a letter from a fictional unemployed ‘John Doe’ threatening suicide on Christmas Eve in protest of society’s ills. When the letter causes a sensation among readers… editor Henry Connell (James Gleason) is persuaded to rehire Mitchell, who schemes to boost the newspaper’s sales by exploiting the fictional John Doe [to be played by Gary Cooper]. Mitchell starts to pen a series of articles in Doe’s name (…) The John Doe philosophy spreads across the country, developing into a broad grassroots movement whose simple slogan is, ‘Be a better neighbor.'”