The Discerning Person's Guide to Underrated Christmas Movies 

Page 4 of 4


Melissa Anderson, member of the New York Film Festival Selection Commitee, and the film critic that Inrockuptibles magazine has dubbed "l'heroine malheureuse"

Christmas in Connecticut (1945, Peter Godfrey): Barbara Stanwyck stars as ladies' magazine columnist Elizabeth Lane, a Martha Stewart-like goddess of the domestic arts who, in reality, doesn't even know how to boil water. For most of the film, Stanny must participate in a yuletide publicity stunt, nerves frazzled-desperate, frantic behavior that will resonate with anyone who's ever had to pretend that Xmas with the family is sacred togetherness time.

Christmas on Earth (1963, Barbara Rubin): Only 17 when she made this little-seen, taboo-breaking classic, Barbara Rubin's original title for her film was Cocks and Cunts. We see a lot of both, especially when Gerard Malanga goes AC/DC.


Bruce Goldstein, Director of Repertory Programming, Film Forum and founder & co-president, Rialto Pictures

To me, holiday movies don't necessarily have to have the holidays in them. But they do have to be comfort movies, preferably b&w and more than 60 years old. Remember the Night would be one of my top choices, along with Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner, with James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan—maybe not underrated, except as a "holiday" movie. Has there ever been a greater romantic comedy? The answer is no. And the holidays do make an appearance at the end of the picture. I love it so much that I would have included it in my "Madcap Manhattan" series—except that it takes place in Budapest.

Compiler's note: Madcap Manhattan runs at Film Forum December 11-January 5 and includes Holiday, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Apartment.

And finally, Miriam Bale, curator, contributor to Film Comment and The L, and querent/compiler

My favorite holiday movies are my favorite New York movies, too. Maybe it's a naive belief of someone born in a sunny state—that the holidays are about tinsel-cheap magic, and that magic can be summoned by the combination of snow and lights, especially fake snow and skyscrapers at night. There are no real holidays and there's just one fake snow scene in The Royal Tenenbaums (made by two Texans), at exactly the moment when a short, sweet memory becomes tinged with disappointment and betrayal. Wes Anderson used to always release his films on Christmas Day. Makes sense. And every December in New York I can't help thinking about, yes, Whit Stillman's Metropolitan, with its seasonal whirl of parties, taxis and tuxedos punctuated by pious moments at midnight mass.


From era-less uptown to a vanished and slightly embellished bohemia downtown: Bell, Book and Candle (1958) is about actual magic in an eccentric family: Greenwich Village beatnik witches who all hang out at the Zodiac Club (a location later recreated by Godard). Kim Novak gives her bongos-playing brother (Jack Lemmon) some records and he gives her a love spell. "I want him for Christmas," she says of Jimmy Stewart, before humming her spell. The elliptical romance-in-the-snow scene that follows makes the viewer feel as hypnotized as Stewart.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Miriam Bale

Latest in Features

© 2014 The L Magazine
Website powered by Foundation