A Definitive Power Ranking of the Most Overplayed Christmas Movies in History
From Thanksgiving to New Years, a few things are certain. You will stuff your face, find yourself couch-ridden, flip on the set and be presented with the same options … on every single channel. Tis the season to re-watch the same flicks for the fiftieth time! Some we love, some we loathe, but regardless of where you stand — these are the ten movies that’re playing RIGHT NOW.
Described as a ‘modern classic’ and one of only a few films to make the list that was made during your lifetime, this 1989 John Hughes movie is the third in the National Lampoon’s series, and proof positive that hanging out with your family for a long weekend this year could be a lot worse.
This Peanuts staple was predicted to be a total disaster — the entire budget was under $100k, it was put together start-to-finish in under six months, the producers hired unknown child actors, and then they decided to opt for a jazz soundtrack rather than going down the laugh track route, which was the thing to do in 1965. Well take that, humbugs — the animated special won an Emmy and a Peabody, and has played every year since.
The 8th most overplayed holiday movie is, in this case, the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street — not to be confused with the 1955 remake … or the 1973 remake … or the 1994 remake (the one you probably remember, with the little girl from Mrs Doubtfire). We’re now well into the territory of ‘public domain’ — once a film’s been out for several years, unless otherwise stipulated, stations can air it for free — so prepare for more super oldies. The film spans the time frame from Thanksgiving right through to Christmas, so broadcasters have carte blanche to show it ALL. THE. TIME.
The first of two Rankin/Bass productions on the list, this is the 1969 animated tale of Frosty, a failed magician and his rabbit (Hocus Pocus), and a little girl called Karen. It teaches children about the perils of hypothermia and running away from home, inherent human greed, and the selflessness of snow.
This 1946 classic was nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Picture), and consistently rates as one of the top 20 American films of all time … but when it came out it was a bit of a box office flop, and the CIA accused it of being Communist-leaning. But over time the movie has worm-holed its way into our cultural psyche, because who doesn’t love a suicide flick at the holidays?
This 1954 musical rom-com’s just too excruciating to sit through. Ask your gramma what its about. Oh, what’s that? She’s fallen asleep in front of White Christmas, which is playing on a loop on AMC? Well, in a nutshell, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are Broadway performers, who put on a little razzle dazzle for the troops in Europe during WWII. When they return to the US they meet up with a pair of sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen), who happen to be performing at the boys’ old commanding general’s failing Vermont Inn. Hijinks ensue. If you like that kind of thing.
Who can forget Kevin McCallister and his merry merry misadventures way back in 1990? No one can. And that’s because it’s still the top-grossing non-animated comedy of all time. Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Catherine O’Hara and crew’s cash cow has brought in almost $500m to date, and is still raking in the residuals.
Don’t even try with the Jim Carey version — it’s all about the original made-for-TV special, which first aired in 1966, and has been shown on practically every network ever since. And the 26min animated short film is one of very few to continue to win top broadcast slots, maintain a 100% Rotten Tomatoes average and make ‘best of’ lists of even the most hardened of Scrooges.
Our additional Rankin/Bass production is the stop motion animation classic about the elf who wants to be a dentist, and the eponymous deer, whose nose shone so bright he was cast aside by abusive dad Donner. The two embark upon a joint hero’s journey, meeting former peppermint prospector Yukon Cornelius en route to the Island of Misfit Toys, and eventually our stars help domesticate the Abominable Snow Monster, open up a practice (sans DDS accreditation …_) and our deer gets his girl. Aired annually and often, since 1964.
The most oft-aired Christmas movie is Ralphie’s story, appearing (often as a part of 24hr continuous marathons) on both large and small screens worldwide since 1983. So you’ve seen it. You know what happens. But did you realize the house used in the exterior shots has been preserved as a living museum to the movie? From the leg lamp right down to the family car. An avid fan purchased the property for $150,000 when it went on eBay, and plunked more than half a mill into restoring and staging it as presented in the film. So if you find yourself stuck in Cleveland, Ohio this holiday season, swing by.