It’s officially the run up to Christmas, and you know what that means:
Time to bust out all of the old school Christmas films!!!
There’s just one problem though. All the true old school Christmas classics kind of have to be saved until Christmas Eve (it’s festive law). So without the It’s A Wonderful Life’s of the world, if you want a black and white film fix, you’re stuck with the 1938 version of Christmas Carol (which is a classic and all, but it’s not the right version of Christmas Carol…)
But suffer no longer! I’ve gathered four of the best old (we’re talking released in 1945 or earlier!) films, that you probably haven’t seen. All are fun and most importantly batshit enough to keep you entertained no matter what level of turkey based food coma you’re in.
So crack open the wine and prepare to mock and love these films in equal measure!
1 – The Shop Around The Corner, 1940
Watch It Because… truly nothing says Christmas like Jimmy Stewart in a suicidal Christmas film!
What’s it about? Set in Budapest, Hungary (as nifty a way for the film studio to seem Euro positive during WW2) the film follows a group of shop-workers; specifically Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, who can’t stand each other… but *gasp* they are actually secretly falling in love with each other as anonymous pen pals!
What makes it so good? If you haven’t guessed yet, 1990s classic, You’ve Got Mail is based on this. BUT the original has two major bonuses over the remake:
1. The romance is waaaay off: Seriously, the romance here is less ‘I bet they have really good angry sex’ and more ‘I bet they have a lot of angry sex followed by crying’. The hatred between these two is real! They should in no way be together and if it doesn’t end in divorce within a year, I’ll eat my santa hat.
2. It’s festive AS F!! Set in snow capped Hungary with a Christmas Eve kissing session thrown in for good measure, this film is all kinds of cosy!
Plus it also stars Frank Morgan AKA the wizard of oz!
What’s the downside? Well *spoiler alert* er…The Wizard tries to kill himself. Frank Morgan plays the shop’s owner, who through the course of the film starts off fine, then suspects his wife of having an affair, has a breakdown and attempts suicide.
Don’t worry though, two days after his suicide attempt the Wizard is back at the shop and everyone just kind of glosses over what happened…making this the ultimate Christmas film for everyone with a massively dysfunctional family.
Where can I watch it? It’s available to rent for not very much at all on Amazon (included in some Prime packages), YouTube and Google Play.
2 – Christmas in Connecticut, 1945
Watch This Because… this screwball comedy with a female lead, somehow manages to both be WAY ahead of its time and yet somehow really outdated…it’s quite an impressive feat!
What’s it about? Barbara Stynwyck plays a career gal writer whose homemaking column has transformed her into the 1940s Martha Stewart.
The only problem? She can’t even make toast!
But when her boss forces her to host a (cute) military hero at her (imaginary) farm for Christmas, Barbara has no choice to make her homemaking fantasy life a reality. Cue much screwball comedy, fake babies, kitchen mishaps and a love triangle.
So what makes it so good? Well not to be this person…but Barbara’s wardrobe is pretty great. Plus *spoiler ahead* Barbara doesn’t magically become great at homemaking or ditch writing to become a wife. By the end she gets a promotion and gets off with the guy who is totally fine with the fact she can’t cook, clean or change a baby (but he can!)
So what’s the downsides? Well the film is a bit all over the place. Luckily it’s a truly old school screwball comedy so it gets away with it. However, I’d recommend tucking into some mulled wine and creating a Christmas in Connecticut drinking game to get you through the more nonsensical bits.
Where can I watch it? Available on Youtube, Amazon Prime and Google Play.
3 – It happened on fifth avenue, 1947
Watch It Because… It’s the most screwed over Christmas film in history. It lost it’s director to It’s a Wonderful Life and was beaten to Oscar Glory by Miracle on 34th Street. Basically it had zero luck!
Now finally re-released after decades in the wilderness, this sweet (and weirdly socialist) movie looks set to make an iconic Christmas comeback!
What’s it about? A rich businessman leaves his plush pad vacant whilst he is out of town over Christmas. Except it’s not empty…because a homeless man has broken in and set up a fancy temporary home there!
Said homeless man invites round his mates, including a a newly homeless war vet and a young female drifter, who turns out to be the real home owners daughter and she’s just pretending to be homeless (bit of a twat move but there we go)
Soon the rich homeowner comes back (now pretending to be homeless, because why not) and learns that about human plight, compassion and to use his wealth to help others.
What’s good? It’s basically a very socialist Christmas! Honestly, one of the story lines involves a group of homeless veterans trying to fund their plan to build mass affordable housing. The film couldn’t be more humanist and socialist if it tried!
The downside? Good luck watching this if you live outside the USA. For real, there is literally no way to watch it legally and that’s super bloody frustrating!
Where can I watch it? Well if your in the US, you can rent it for a pittance on YouTube, Amazon or Google Play. Not in the US… happy streaming!
4 – Meet me in St Louis, 1944
Watch It Because… nothing says Christmas quite like Judy motherfucking Garland.(And although apparently this is on in America constantly over Christmas,the same cannot be said for the UK)
What’s it about? The film spends a year following the Smith family, a middle class family at the turn of the century. From spring to winter, we watch as the family are torn apart, pull back together again and generally learn all about family values and love etc etc.
Whats good? It’s generally a cracking musical. You have fun numbers, ear worms a plenty and of course – Miss Judy Garland.
On a festive note, the film contains the classic song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Arguably one of the most under appreciated festive numbers around. Now – For those who don’t know…Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is the perfect mix of both melancholic and hopeful. During Meet Me in St Louis it’s sang right after this happens:Why yes, that is an emotional little girl murdering a snowman with what looks like a gun.
Judy Garlands character sings ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to soothe her upset sister (following snowman decapitation gate) With the songs lyrics reminding us that no matter how bad things are right now, things will get better. But until then, if we band together with those we love we can ‘muddle through somehow.’
My god doesn’t that seem like the end of year anthem 2019 needs?
Where I can watch it? Again, Amazon, YouTube and Google Play have it for less than a cup of coffee. If you live in the UK it is also on SkyCinema