Deck the Halls with DVDs: Six Classic Christmas Movies Adults Will Love

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A little girl discovers dreams do come true if you really believe. Six-year-old Susan has doubts about childhood's most enduring miracle - Santa Claus
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
December 14th, 2013

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Deck the Halls with DVDs: Six Classic Christmas Movies Adults Will Love

Christmas films are often hidden away in cupboards until the last of the turkey has been dispatched and tree trimming is well underway. Here are six films that have so much heart, hilarity, and soul-stirring charm that they deserve to be watched all year long.

"Miracle on 34th Street" (1947)

The ideal way to ease into Santa season, the entire plot of "Miracle on 34th Street" takes place between Thanksgiving and December 25. Edmund Gwenn stars as Kris Kringle, a jolly, white-whiskered fellow who takes the place of an intoxicated "Santa" in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, a job that soon turns into a season-long starring role. It quickly becomes apparent to dubious event director Doris Walker, played to perfection by the beautiful Maureen O'Hara, that Kris isn't just acting a part—he really believes he is the world's jolliest old elf. Throw in a prim and precocious little girl (a wide-eyed preteen Natalie Wood), a handsome neighbor (the dashing John Payne), mental illness accusations, a few well-placed winks, and a little miracle courtesy of children's letters, and the result is a story for the ages. Far from a simple tale about identity and the meaning of Christmas, "Miracle on 34th Street" is about the value of hope and the power of faith and love.

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966)

This is the story of the big-green Grinch, whose attempt to rob all the Whos in Whoville of their Christmas joy is enough to make a grown man flinch. Though far from feature length at only twenty-six minutes, the film is beloved for the emotion it packs in that short time. The film contains catchy songs aplenty, a poor and put-upon dog named Max, Cindy Lou Who, and a case of stolen present-filled sacks. But through all the intrigue and strife, a lesson is taught—the true spirit of Christmas does not disappear just because there are no gifts. Back up on Mt. Crumpit, the Grinch sits with his ill-gotten toys, but from down below a joyous cry makes such noise. For the Whos are singing, and bells are ringing, a reminder that even when presents are denied us, love and family have the power to make our hearts grow three sizes.

"It's a Wonderful Life" (1946)

"It's a Wonderful Life" is the classic that almost wasn't. Released in 1946, it was considered a box-office disappointment, only gaining momentum when television stations in the 1970s began showing the film around the holidays because of the cheap licensing fees. Jimmy Stewart was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of George Bailey, the suicidal do-gooder who believes the world would be better off without him until his guardian angel Clarence shows him the misery of a George-free world. The result is a glimpse into how people can find self-worth and joy when doubting themselves the very most.

"Love Actually" (2003)

A modern day ode to love in all its forms, this romantic comedy features Christmas as a thematic backdrop for its many masterfully intertwined stories of love. Hugh Grant's boyishly charming prime minister is smitten with his cheeky young catering manager; Emma Thompson channels resignation and sorrow; Joni Mitchell discovers the extent of her husband's wandering eye; and Colin Firth finds a connection with someone who doesn't understand him at all. A total of ten threads, each dedicated to a love story as unique as the people living it, weave together to remind the viewer that "love actually is all around."

"A Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992)

It can be argued that the mere existence of Muppets makes this a children's film, but the combination of Jim Henson's colorful, furry inventions, this classic Dickensian tale, and the acting of the ever-dignified Michael Caine make this perfectly suitable for even the stuffiest adults. Gonzo channels Charles Dickens and narrates as Kermit the Frog's Bob Cratchit pleads with Ebenezer Scrooge (Caine) to give him the day off on Christmas. As an unbending Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, he gets the ability to see how his actions affect those around him. Muppets, morals, and Michael Caine are a surefire recipe for brilliance.

"Elf" (2003)

Naughty, irreverent, and full of side-splitting quotes like "This place reminds me of Santa's Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me!" and "You sit on a throne of lies!", this movie stars Will Ferrell as an over-grown "elf" who finds himself far away from the familiarity of the North Pole. Hilarity ensues. The most important thing to know is that laughter is inevitable and, of course, Santa wins.