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Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season

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Turner Classic Movies presents a bucket list of the best and most beloved holiday films of all time, complete with spirited commentary, behind-the-scenes stories, and photos spanning eight decades of Christmastime favorites. Nothing brings the spirit of the season into our hearts quite like a great holiday movie. "Christmas films" come in many shapes and sizes and exist acr Turner Classic Movies presents a bucket list of the best and most beloved holiday films of all time, complete with spirited commentary, behind-the-scenes stories, and photos spanning eight decades of Christmastime favorites. Nothing brings the spirit of the season into our hearts quite like a great holiday movie. "Christmas films" come in many shapes and sizes and exist across many genres. Some, like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, are perennials, while others, such as Die Hard, have only gradually become yuletide favorites. But they all have one thing in common: they use themes evoked by the holiday period - nostalgia, joy, togetherness, dysfunction, commercialism, or cynicism - as a force in their storytelling. Turner Classic Movies: Christmas in the Movies showcases the very best among this uniquely spirited strain of cinema. Each film is profiled on what makes it a "Christmas movie," along with behind-the-scenes stories of its production, reception, and legacy. Complemented by a trove of color and black-and-white photos, Turner Classic Movies: Christmas in the Movies is a glorious salute to a collection of the most treasured films of all time. Among the 30 films included: The Shop Around the Corner, Holiday Inn, Meet Me in St. Louis, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Little Women,and The Nightmare Before Christmas.


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Turner Classic Movies presents a bucket list of the best and most beloved holiday films of all time, complete with spirited commentary, behind-the-scenes stories, and photos spanning eight decades of Christmastime favorites. Nothing brings the spirit of the season into our hearts quite like a great holiday movie. "Christmas films" come in many shapes and sizes and exist acr Turner Classic Movies presents a bucket list of the best and most beloved holiday films of all time, complete with spirited commentary, behind-the-scenes stories, and photos spanning eight decades of Christmastime favorites. Nothing brings the spirit of the season into our hearts quite like a great holiday movie. "Christmas films" come in many shapes and sizes and exist across many genres. Some, like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, are perennials, while others, such as Die Hard, have only gradually become yuletide favorites. But they all have one thing in common: they use themes evoked by the holiday period - nostalgia, joy, togetherness, dysfunction, commercialism, or cynicism - as a force in their storytelling. Turner Classic Movies: Christmas in the Movies showcases the very best among this uniquely spirited strain of cinema. Each film is profiled on what makes it a "Christmas movie," along with behind-the-scenes stories of its production, reception, and legacy. Complemented by a trove of color and black-and-white photos, Turner Classic Movies: Christmas in the Movies is a glorious salute to a collection of the most treasured films of all time. Among the 30 films included: The Shop Around the Corner, Holiday Inn, Meet Me in St. Louis, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Little Women,and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

30 review for Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Great photos and brief write-ups of our childhood Christmas films (primarily late 30's to late 40's). My favorite is "Christmas in Connecticut" with Barbara Stanwyck and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, as Uncle Felix; a great character actor from the 1930-50’s (He was in Casablanca!). They have a great humorous and snarky dialog together in this film. He knows her secret and wants to protect her and not marry the stuffy architect played by, Reginald Gardiner. He wants her to marry the soldier she's suppo Great photos and brief write-ups of our childhood Christmas films (primarily late 30's to late 40's). My favorite is "Christmas in Connecticut" with Barbara Stanwyck and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, as Uncle Felix; a great character actor from the 1930-50’s (He was in Casablanca!). They have a great humorous and snarky dialog together in this film. He knows her secret and wants to protect her and not marry the stuffy architect played by, Reginald Gardiner. He wants her to marry the soldier she's supposed to be 'cooking for,' played by handsome Dennis Morgan. Fun Christmas movie you must see. This is a wonderful book and super Christmas Gift for anyone who loves this films! Merry Christmas! I'm adding this physical book to my Christmas list now!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    I enjoyed the photos and brief overviews of the movies in this book but I am also really curious about the target reader for this book and what was the overall goal. From what I can call, it could be aiming at one of several things: — A nostalgic overview of (mostly golden age) Hollywood Christmas movies for people who know and love them. But then why not include info on how or where to watch them (a danger with having the book published by TCM which has no stake in other networks)? And why is so I enjoyed the photos and brief overviews of the movies in this book but I am also really curious about the target reader for this book and what was the overall goal. From what I can call, it could be aiming at one of several things: — A nostalgic overview of (mostly golden age) Hollywood Christmas movies for people who know and love them. But then why not include info on how or where to watch them (a danger with having the book published by TCM which has no stake in other networks)? And why is so much of the info given on each movie devoted to plot summary? — A helpful guide for people who love classic Christmas movies hoping to find suggestions for hidden gems. But again, no help is given on how to find them (Is the Holly and the Ivy even available on DVD?) And I’d say 3/4 of the book is about well known movies. — A thoughtful exploration of how Hollywood’s exploration of Christmas has changed over the decades, why we love Christmas movies and what makes a particular Christmas movie a classic. How can we explain why some great movies never achieved classic status? Why are ironic, funny movies likely to become classics today, compared to the heartwarming sentimental movies that rose to beloved status in the 1940s? The last is what I had really been hoping for. And the introductory essay has some terrific insights. I would have loved loved loved more of this. I wanted this smart author to give me more of his insights and provide more behind-the-scenes information. Instead of aw-shucks-wasn’t-that-sweet sidebars with “holiday moments” we love from each movie (OK but I can come up with those myself), give us something unusual to look for, some insight we might not have thought of. I felt like thus was mostly a book of movie plot summaries, a few fun facts and some nice photos of each movies. That’s OK but it could have been so much more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    A fun little book that highlights 30 Christmas movies, most of which are classics, but a few which you may never have heard of, but will surely be searching for this December. This book, like the movies it profiles, brings smiles as it reminds us of our extended Christmas families - the Baileys, the Griswolds, the Cratchits, etc. - and the time we share with them every year. There are a few tidbits included in the summaries of these classics that may surprise even those of us who have seen the m A fun little book that highlights 30 Christmas movies, most of which are classics, but a few which you may never have heard of, but will surely be searching for this December. This book, like the movies it profiles, brings smiles as it reminds us of our extended Christmas families - the Baileys, the Griswolds, the Cratchits, etc. - and the time we share with them every year. There are a few tidbits included in the summaries of these classics that may surprise even those of us who have seen the movies dozens of times. For example, I never knew that Rosemary Clooney dubbed Vera-Ellen's vocals in their duet, "Sisters" in the movie White Christmas, essentially doing a duet with herself. And who knew that Cary Grant and David Niven switched roles in The Bishop's Wife (a smart move by Samuel Goldwyn, which upset Grant at the time)? As someone who loves classic Christmas feature films, I was truly surprised to find nine titles among the thirty listed in the book that I'd never seen (and a couple of those that I'd never even heard of). I look forward to tracking them down. As with any list, this one has selections I don't care much for (as much as I truly love Jimmy Stewart, I have a hard time watching The Shop Around the Corner and find Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks much more enjoyable in the remake You've Got Mail), and omissions (for me, Laurel and Hardy's Babes in Toyland, and the original Yours, Mine, and Ours which is not technically a holiday movie, but has a wonderful Christmas scene), but that's part of the fun of these lists. In any case, each summary will surely bring warm, nostalgic feelings to readers as they look ahead to a snowy December evening with a crackling fire, a cup of cocoa, and some classic Christmas films.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Very fun book if you love Christmas movies, especially some of the old classics. I’ve seen all of these movies except a couple, some that I watch nearly every year, and some that I saw one time years ago. I’m not ready for the holiday season to end yet!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Great every of holiday movies with context for the development, release, and longevity in popular culture.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shari

    I loved the part about Judy Garland and the origin of the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It was originally much darker!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I like to watch Christmas movies and have seen many. But I found this book quite disappointing. Of the 30 "classic movies" featured, 21 were over 50 years old. And many weren't actually Christmas movies, but stories that took place partially during the Christmas season. There are so many good movies out there, I don't understand why these were chosen.

  8. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Bunce

    Originally published online at BORG.com. If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right? It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades. This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season. Originally published online at BORG.com. If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right? It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades. This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season. And yes, Arnold’s list includes Die Hard. So as the British say, “end of.” Most readers and movie fans will likely agree with at least twenty of the selections discussed in the book, and the rest are there ready for some good discussions with friends over some egg nog this holiday season. It’s also likely this bucket list of movies has several films that even avid movie watchers may have missed. I set up my DVR to pick up a few in the book I hadn’t seen yet and was surprised at how superb a selection Holiday Affair is. It stars Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, Henry Morgan, plus young Gordon Gebert in what must be the best-ever performance by a child actor in a Christmas movie. This is exactly the kind of value you get with a book like Christmas in the Movies–this movie will now be added to my own favorite Christmas movie list. For each entry Arnold discusses the actors, plot, audience reception and the impact of the film, and why it’s a good Christmas season film for audiences today. Along with Die Hard, which is smartly defended by Arnold, you’ll find the usual suspects like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf, plus some lesser known gems, like Remember the Night, the first of four films that would pair Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, plus Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You, and Humphrey Bogart in We’re No Angels. Arnold picks up genre films Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even a few Westerns, including 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne. These aren’t all your typical happy holiday films. Arnold sees as a theme of many films set during Christmas the dysfunctional family–a component of more Christmas classics than you might think. Repeating players and themes include Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Edith Head, Michael Curtiz, John Hughes, writer/directors, the impact of war, and ghostly spirits. Add Arnold’s list of 30 movies to the Rankin/Bass television specials, A Muppet Christmas Carol (mentioned in Arnold’s discussion of 1951’s Scrooge), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and–whether you’re actively watching or just have the TV on in the background as you go about celebrating this year–your holiday season of television will be completely covered. Check out the TCM website for December holiday movie listings here. There’s something for everyone in TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season, and it’s a great prompt to add some classics you haven’t seen to your December television watch list. Full of color and black and white photo stills, movie posters, and more, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season is available from Running Press now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cathi

    I read a blurb about this brand-new book in Book Page magazine, and it looked like something I might enjoy. (I love books about books and books about movies.) I put it on hold awhile back, but I didn't get it until last week. No worries. It's more of a book about movies than strictly a holiday book. For example, some of the movies written about (which happen to have some holidays tie-ins) are THE LION IN WINTER, DIE HARD, and that wonderful Billy Wilder classic, THE APARTMENT. Not what you'd thi I read a blurb about this brand-new book in Book Page magazine, and it looked like something I might enjoy. (I love books about books and books about movies.) I put it on hold awhile back, but I didn't get it until last week. No worries. It's more of a book about movies than strictly a holiday book. For example, some of the movies written about (which happen to have some holidays tie-ins) are THE LION IN WINTER, DIE HARD, and that wonderful Billy Wilder classic, THE APARTMENT. Not what you'd think of when you consider holiday movies! There are some basic holiday movies, which I've seen many times, such as IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MIRACLE ON 34th STREET, A CHRISTMAS STORY, WHITE CHRISTMAS, etc. but there are also quite a few oldies that I haven't seen before. (You can bet that I've added them to my list of movies to check out.) There are some great photos in this book, and the stories behind the movies are wonderful. I learned so much about how these movies were made--from casting to directors to musical scoring--and how well received the movies were when they first came out, as well as how known and loved they are today. Some are not known well at all, but others are hugely popular. Reading about some of these old movies (with some of my favorites, such as Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Fred MacMurray, etc.) makes me realize that are still a lot of great oldies I have yet to discover.

  10. 5 out of 5

    classic reverie

    I was watching a movie on TCM and afterwards they mentioned "Christmas in the Movies". I must admit I love older classic movies though some newer ones are really good, but they don't have the feel to me as the real classics. I enjoyed all the movies up to and including Billy Wilder's Apartment. I have seen almost all of these and reading on my Fire Device, the studio pictures are outstanding. Now the movies mentioned after there are several I have seen but only a couple I really enjoyed "Home Al I was watching a movie on TCM and afterwards they mentioned "Christmas in the Movies". I must admit I love older classic movies though some newer ones are really good, but they don't have the feel to me as the real classics. I enjoyed all the movies up to and including Billy Wilder's Apartment. I have seen almost all of these and reading on my Fire Device, the studio pictures are outstanding. Now the movies mentioned after there are several I have seen but only a couple I really enjoyed "Home Alone" when it came out and it is pretty cute, I could watch it again but not yearly. "Die Hard" was good and "The Nightmare Before Christmas", I enjoyed also. The rest are not my cup of tea. The know "The Christmas Story" is popular but I must admit, it is not for me. "Gremlins" no thank you but it is nice others can love these movies. My ultimate favorite is "It is a Wonderful Life". I highlighted many interesting facts on the stories which if you go to my highlight section, you might enjoy. There are a couple of movies that should have been included, Cary Grants and Deborah Kerr's Love Affair and Ginger Rogers and David Niven's Bachelor Mother. This is surely a keepsake for the wonderful pictures and I will certainly see the movies that I have not seen yet.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I picked up this book on a whim at the library because I love TCM, but I was kind of disappointed in it. I like the fact that I learned about some new movies and will definitely make a note of them to watch next Christmas. Some of the movies are definitely not Christmas movies but I can kinda see why they were included. But I wish that the only movies included were older films that are shown on TCM. However I do love Elf and A Christmas Story! That being said I admit that I really only skimmed t I picked up this book on a whim at the library because I love TCM, but I was kind of disappointed in it. I like the fact that I learned about some new movies and will definitely make a note of them to watch next Christmas. Some of the movies are definitely not Christmas movies but I can kinda see why they were included. But I wish that the only movies included were older films that are shown on TCM. However I do love Elf and A Christmas Story! That being said I admit that I really only skimmed the book and didn't really read it thoroughly but I did enjoy looking at the pictures. This is definitely a great book for movie lovers like myself and even though I was a little disappointed, I do recommend it and I'm going to see if I can find other TCM books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julia Walker

    I am a Christmas nut. I absolutely love Christmas and one of the ways in which a person can tell I love Christmas is that I own over 100 Christmas movies. I have long collected them, from old classics to new releases, from children’s to sing-a-longs, so I am always on the lookout for more. This book pulls together a list of 30 movies that Jeremy Arnold deems classic and thus worthy of watching them every year. The book is very fun with photos and trivia on each movie. He also states why he chose I am a Christmas nut. I absolutely love Christmas and one of the ways in which a person can tell I love Christmas is that I own over 100 Christmas movies. I have long collected them, from old classics to new releases, from children’s to sing-a-longs, so I am always on the lookout for more. This book pulls together a list of 30 movies that Jeremy Arnold deems classic and thus worthy of watching them every year. The book is very fun with photos and trivia on each movie. He also states why he chose it in a section on each movie about the Christmas Moment in the movie. A great gift book and a very fun read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

    Great details about a lot of great Christmas and holiday themed movies. I have seen a lot of them but not all. New goal to watch them all! White Christmas is my all time favorite movie so when I saw it was the main cover to book I knew I had to have it. Only thing I felt left out was in the information on White Christmas it says that Rosemary Clooney was used as Vera Ellen’s singing voice since she couldn’t sing but they actually used Trudy Stevens a lot for her singing voice. Credit due there! Great details about a lot of great Christmas and holiday themed movies. I have seen a lot of them but not all. New goal to watch them all! White Christmas is my all time favorite movie so when I saw it was the main cover to book I knew I had to have it. Only thing I felt left out was in the information on White Christmas it says that Rosemary Clooney was used as Vera Ellen’s singing voice since she couldn’t sing but they actually used Trudy Stevens a lot for her singing voice. Credit due there! Also could of been a bit longer with many more great movies left out but hey maybe the author will do a 2nd book! If he does I would buy it! Love Christmas!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sanchez

    If you want to view some English speaking movies with Christmas themes, this is the book for you. Thirty films are presented, most of them produced in the 1940s. Each film description has a one line synopsis, list of actors and the characters they play. The descriptions also include the length of the film and whether it is black and white or color. I appreciated the discussion of the films and the holiday moment. The pictures taken from the film draw you in. Now I know some classics I want to re If you want to view some English speaking movies with Christmas themes, this is the book for you. Thirty films are presented, most of them produced in the 1940s. Each film description has a one line synopsis, list of actors and the characters they play. The descriptions also include the length of the film and whether it is black and white or color. I appreciated the discussion of the films and the holiday moment. The pictures taken from the film draw you in. Now I know some classics I want to revisit and some I want to see for the first time this holiday season!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Esperanza

    A wonderful compendium to Christmas in the movies. Some movies feature a few minutes on Christmas, while others are entirely set at Christmastime. It covers casts, famous lines, and a distinctive holiday scene in each movie. From "Miracle on Main Street" to "A Christmas Story" to "Love Actually", this is a book for anyone who loves Christmas and loves the movies. A wonderful guide to find new Christmas titles to watch.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Wonderful introductions and highlights of 30 films made between 1939 and 2003. I'd seen many of them, and not just the well known ones, but I now have about 8 new-to-me classics to dive into, mostly from the 40s. I really enjoyed the plot descriptions, as well as what doesn't hold up decades later, and information on the stars and making of the films with some great historical context. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    You can’t watch 30 Christmas movies in one day. But you can experience them all in one afternoon with this book. I enjoyed the format and compact size. It'll make for a nice gift for the holidays or even something to display on top of a mantle. Nothing ground-breaking here. More for the nostalgia and ritual of celebrating the holiday. More details on my blog: https://www.outofthepastblog.com/2018... You can’t watch 30 Christmas movies in one day. But you can experience them all in one afternoon with this book. I enjoyed the format and compact size. It'll make for a nice gift for the holidays or even something to display on top of a mantle. Nothing ground-breaking here. More for the nostalgia and ritual of celebrating the holiday. More details on my blog: https://www.outofthepastblog.com/2018...

  18. 4 out of 5

    amaya

    4½ stars, only because whilst a few of the latter titles might technically qualify as Christmas films (namely 'Die Hard' and 'Gremlins'), they don't offer the same 'feel' as the rest of the collection. Plus, there are a few others I think were very worthy of this list and which could've gone in their (DH/Gremlins) places instead. Otherwise, a fantastic book with a great list of films and facts; though I've seen the majority, I'm still able to add a few of these to my list. Ho-Ho-Ho!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    As a tried and true Christmas movie lover, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about some of my all-time favorites as well as some I’d never heard of until now. My die-hard (no pun intended) fan status of Holiday Inn helped me notice a small error with naming Astaire as the maple performer in “Abraham” instead of Crosby. Regardless, this book was a delightful little holiday treat. Now time to pass it on to my fellow Christmas movie aficionado: my dear dad.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Punkie

    4 1/2 stars You may not agree with the particular 30 films chosen as "Essential Holiday Classics", but there is no denying that each of these are deserving of attention. Gorgeous stills and interesting tidbits make this a must for film buffs, though it does fall short on the segments dedicated to each film's "Holiday Moment". Quite a few of these fell flat due to the author's perspective, but que sera. It is still recommended for those who love movies, and a great gift for a film collector.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Stephen

    Excellent resource for some of the best Christmas movies ever made. While not a complete summary of all the Christmas movies ever made, this is a well written book that showcases some of the best Christmas movies ever made. A must read if you're looking to find some of the best Christmas movies to watch, rent, or own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christine Sinclair

    Excellent, well-written, great photos and background info on all my favorite Christmas films, and a few I haven't seen yet. There are a couple of questionable choices (Die Hard? Little Women?), but overall, my only complaint about this book is that it's too short. But at least now I'm in the Christmas spirit!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan Steeves

    I only took a star off because I wasn't a fan of the entries from the '80s onwards, and because (I'm pretty sure) an actor's name was wrong. Overall I found it to be well-rounded and it gave me a bunch of new old films I want to watch.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    A great list, with lots of interesting trivia. I have not seen most of the older movies, but most sound incredibly interesting, so now I have a goal this Christmas to see how many I can find and watch.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Smith

    Fantastic book to get you into the holiday spirit especially if you're a big time fan of holiday moves. The Book will definitely get you into the holiday spirit And ready to marathon your holiday favorites and maybe even discover some new ones.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Fun to read and find out the background of what went into these classics.

  27. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

    Pretty good selection of American and British christmas movies. It's also, simply, a joy to look through.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lee Ann

    Great holiday gift. Interesting collection of films set at Christmas. I actually haven't heard of 4 of the films. I have only seen 17 of the 30.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Loved this book! Very informational, with great photos and little known facts (at least to me) about some of the greatest holiday films ever made.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Andreotti

    This was a fun book- lots of classic to current Christmas films. Fun synopsis and tidbits from each film with great photos. This will be a fun one to revisit each year!

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