The holiday season is upon us, and we here at Bethany Village are celebrating with a look back at some of our residents’ favorite feel-good holiday films from before 1950.
Though many readers will recognize holiday staples like It’s a Wonderful Life, there’s a host of other classics that delighted audiences during the golden age of Hollywood. Here are just a few of them:
Bright Eyes | 1934
The first film written specifically for Shirley Temple, Bright Eyes was released just after Christmas, 1934. The film went on to become a feel-good holiday classic, not only for Shirley Temple’s beloved performance, but also its warm message of familial love during times of crisis. As a special bit of trivia: the dog named Rags in the film is the same dog who would go on to portray Toto in The Wizard of Oz.
Holiday Inn | 1942
This musical featuring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire was a huge hit when it came out, and became the highest grossing musical film up to that time. Set primarily at an inn only open on public holidays, this musical-chair romance is framed by events happening on successive Christmas Eves and New Year’s days.
Going My Way | 1944
This musical comedy-drama starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald was another hit during its time, and the highest-grossing film of 1944. It was also nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven of them, including Best Picture. The film follows an unconventional young priest who’s taking over a parish from a more traditional mentor.
Christmas in Connecticut | 1945
Another romantic comedy makes the classic holiday list, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. This is the tale of a New York food writer who pretends she is writing from a Connecticut farm where she tends to her fictitious husband and child. When a colleague asks her to stage a holiday meal at her fictitious farm – expecting to find a real farm, real husband, and real child – comedy ensues.
It’s a Wonderful Life | 1946
One of the most popular and best beloved of the holiday classics, what few know about this film is that it was considered a big flop when it came out. Unlike many of the more popular films on this list, however, it has endured. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, it has since gone on to be rated the top inspirational film of all time by the American Film Institute.
Miracle on 34th Street | 1947
Starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood, this story of a kind old man who claims to be Santa Claus and the young lawyer who defends him in court melted hearts. Miracle on 34th Street was one of the first films to be colorized. It was also rated a bit risqué due to the fact that it featured a divorcee – rather scandalous for its time.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Christmas classics and take the time to explore some of the less familiar titles. Who knows? You may want to consider adding them to you own traditional holiday film list!