Here's a guide to the many wonderful Christmas movies showing this month on Turner Classic Movies!
TCM will be showcasing Christmas movies in prime time on Friday nights, plus there are even more titles scheduled on Sundays, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. There are also Christmas movies scattered elsewhere in the schedule, and Treasures from the Disney Vault on December 17th features seasonal fare.
Many of the Christmas favorites listed here are playing two or three times, while some only show up once. A thorough overview is below, and please also consult the schedule for complete listings.
Click any hyperlinked title below for the corresponding review; titles are only linked on the first mention.
The festive titles begin on Friday, December 4th, leading off with a Christmas film which many have discovered in recent years thanks to TCM, IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE (1947). IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE stars Don DeFore, Gale Storm, Charlie Ruggles, and Ann Harding.
The December 4th lineup also includes Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Capra's MEET JOHN DOE (1941) and MGM's Technicolor version of LITTLE WOMEN (1949), starring June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, and Margaret O'Brien. PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (1962) and the weeper ALL MINE TO GIVE (1957) round out the evening.
Saturday, December 5th, brings us Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds in SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954), which has amazing mid 20th Century decorating! It's part of an evening of films about screenwriters. SUSAN only airs once this December.
Several Christmas films are scheduled during the day on Sunday, December 6th, starting with the MGM version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1938). This short and sweet version with Reginald Owen and the Lockhart family is probably my favorite.
The 6th also includes the month's first showings of Monty Woolley and Bette Davis in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) and HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh.
SUN VALLEY SERENADE (1941); the showing on the 6th is the only time it will be seen this month. John Payne, Sonja Henie, and Glenn Miller star. While there isn't an overt Christmas theme, the story is about a big band opening at a Sun Valley ski resort on Christmas Eve. It's wonderful seasonal viewing.
Friday, December 11th, brings additional showings of THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER and A CHRISTMAS CAROL, along with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949), SCROOGE (1970), and the TCM documentary A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: MERRY CHRISTMAS! (2011).
Sunday, December 13th, is a terrific day including the month's first showing of CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945). Mixed in among the day's Christmas movies is the wonderful APARTMENT FOR PEGGY (1948), a Fox film with Jeanne Crain and William Holden as a WWII vet and his pregnant wife struggling while he goes through college on the GI Bill. It's not a Christmas film but its overall tone fits right in with seasonal movies.
LADY ON A TRAIN (1945). Christmas meets crime in this fun mystery which features a tremendous cast including Dan Duryea, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Morison, Allen Jenkins, and many more great faces. Don't miss this one!
Also in the "Christmas noir" lineup: ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), in which Blackie (Chester Morris) entertains at a prison on Christmas Eve, and the Philip Marlowe mystery LADY IN THE LAKE (1947). The Christmas title cards and jolly music in the latter film stand in ironic contrast to the murder mystery.
SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948), which was very warmly received at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.
The evening continues with seasonal fare such as Pluto in the snowy cartoon short RESCUE DOG (1947), Annette Funicello in BABES IN TOYLAND (1961), and the documentary WHITE WILDERNESS (1958).
Friday, December 18th, brings the month's first airings of I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944) with Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten and REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. (I have tickets to a 75th Anniversary screening of the latter film at the Academy on December 10th!) The evening also includes CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, HOLIDAY AFFAIR, BUNDLE OF JOY (1956), and LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938).
December 20th brings repeats of some films shown earlier in the month, plus family fare with Shirley Temple in THE BLUE BIRD (1940). Also showing on the 20th is a movie which isn't actually a Christmas movie but feels so much like one I like to include it in my holiday viewing: COME TO THE STABLE (1949), starring Loretta Young and Celeste Holm as nuns working to build a children's hospital. It glows with the warmth of the very best Christmas films.
...One of my favorite Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy films, DESK SET (1957), has a Christmastime setting which makes it good December viewing. It's airing on December 22nd.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS WITH BING AND FRANK (1957) airs on December 23rd, as part of Frank Sinatra's Centennial Star of the Month lineup.
Christmas Eve starts off with the Australian film BUSH CHRISTMAS (1947), followed by THE GREAT RUPERT (1950) starring Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake, and Terry Moore. Many titles shown earlier in December are run for the second or third time on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Movies making their first appearance of the month on Christmas Eve are Ginger Rogers and David Niven in BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) and Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), while debuting on Christmas Day are the Katharine Hepburn version of LITTLE WOMEN (1933) and the John Wayne version of 3 GODFATHERS (1948).
Family fare on Christmas Night includes ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952) with Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, who just passed away; Shirley Temple in CURLY TOP (1935); and Virginia Weidler in BAD LITTLE ANGEL (1939).
The holiday movies aren't quite over on Christmas. December 26th features Edward G. Robinson in LARCENY, INC. (1942), which concludes with several characters running around in Santa Claus suits.
And on New Year's Eve there's a marathon of THIN MAN films; the original film, THE THIN MAN (1934), is set at Christmas. Who can forget Nick Charles shooting the ornaments off the tree with his new air gun?!
For more on TCM in December, please visit TCM in December: Highlights.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!