Dec 17, 2009

The Forties Goldmine of Christmas Movies: Part I

Have you ever noticed how many great Christmas movies came out of the forties?

The era produced not only some of the most beloved titles, such as It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), and Holiday Inn (1942), but also several movies with memorable holiday moments. Here are a few that come to mind:

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Never have I wanted so badly for a group of characters to find a happy place to celebrate Christmas. It practically turned the end of this movie into a suspense flick for me.

They Live by Night (1948)
Cold-eyed gangster Howard Da Silva demonstrates how to thoroughly terrorize a young couple by simply crushing an ornament. It’s as if he’s threatening to cancel Christmas.

Christmas Holiday (1944)
Deanna Durbin has a bleak Christmas Eve as she pines for her jail bound husband.

Lady on a Train (1945)
A happier Durbin’s intimate phone performance of Silent Night is a peaceful interlude in the midst of a chaotic murder mystery.

Lady in the Lake (1947)
Robert Montgomery’s Christmas noir, complete with an angelic choir on the soundtrack.

Penny Serenade (1941)
Christmas is a troubling season for a struggling couple played by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in this classic tearjerker.

Meet Me In St Louis (1944)
Judy Garland’s moving rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas makes such an impact that this mostly non-holiday movie is still satisfying Christmas viewing.

Tomorrow in part two: more fine holiday movies from the forties (I promise they will be happier than this bunch)

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  1. Don't forget the Man Who Came to Dinner!

  2. Aw, I shouldn't have left it out. The only reason I did was because I couldn't remember what happened; it's been years. I just remembered that it was a big scene and there was something about a bracelet?

  3. Well, I plan to watch that one very soon because I've been reading nothing but good things about it around the blogosphere. I hope to have a post about it before Christmas.

    Another recommendation: "I'll Be Seeing You". Also a movie with a Christmas setting.

    I'm happy to see Deanna Durbin on your list!! Lady on the Train is one of my favorites of all time. Need to watch it again.