The 12 Streaming Movies of Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, because they were watching these festive films.
Fri, December 20, 2013
IDG News Service — Christmastime is here, which means joyous excitement for some, and worry and dread for others. Fortunately, there's a whole roster of streaming Christmas movies available to either enhance or counter your mood. These range from sweet, beloved classics to much darker, more modern movies, all the way to the simply bizarre. Enjoy, and happy holidays!
Meet John Doe (Hulu Plus)
Frank Capra's cornball classic Meet John Doe (1941) still works because it's totally heartfelt, and its message still feels like it could apply today. Barbara Stanwyck plays a big city reporter who loses her job after a big company buys her newspaper. As a parting shot, she writes a column about a fictitious John Doe who is fed up with the way the elite few treat the working masses, and plans to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. The column is a hit and she gets her job back, but she realizes she needs to hire a real-life John Doe. Enter Gary Cooper, in his best "aw shucks" hayseed mode. And, of course, they fall in love. The movie is equal parts funny and heartwarming, with support from Walter Brennan and a lovely Christmastime finale. (The movie is available on Hulu Plus, but it's also in the public domain and can be found just about anywhere.)
White Christmas (Netflix)
In 1942, Bing Crosby released one of the biggest recorded hits of all time, "White Christmas," and 12 years later came the official movie, White Christmas (1954), filmed in color and "Vistavision." Crosby plays a popular singer, Bob Wallace, who is stationed overseas during WWII. During an attack, songwriter Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) saves Bob's life, and they become partners in peacetime. Teaming up with sister singers Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen), they decide to put on a show to save their old major general's struggling Vermont hotel. Director Michael Curtiz's approach seems a little lethargic at times, the plot relies a bit too much on a ridiculous misunderstanding, and the movie isn't actually all that Christmasy. But it does have a lovely laid-back simplicity that fits in with what the holiday season ought to feel like.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.)
Considered one of the worst movies of all time, this made-for-kids classic might appeal to families with a specific sense of humor. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) tells the story of what happens when Martian children, after watching too much Earth television, dream of having a Christmas of their own. So the Martian leader kidnaps Santa Claus and two Earth children and forces them to make Christmas on Mars. Fortunately, Santa (John Call) and a friendly Martian named Dropo (Bill McCutcheon) set things right. The movie features atrocious acting and situations that range from stupid to annoying, but it's all worth laughing with (or at). The movie's simple, naive quality makes it rather joyous in its own way. Pia Zadora plays one of the Martian children (named GirMar... get it?). Once you hear the song "Hooray for Santy Claus," you will never forget it. (The movie is in the public domain and can be found just about anywhere.)