So many treasured tales came out of the films of the forties and fifties, and the Christmas story niche is no different. In fact, two of the most iconic, beloved Christmas movies of all time came out shortly after the second world war.
Take a look at the list below, which includes 15 amazing, enduring movies from the mid-century era that prominently feature Christmastime in their plots. They’re great films to revisit as the end of the year nears, and a number of them often find their way into family holiday season traditions.
Classic ’40s and ’50s Christmas Movies
- The Shop Around the Corner – 1940; directed by Ernst Lubitsch; starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, and Frank Morgan. Though not James Stewart’s most famous Christmas classic, it’s a great love story revolving around the holiday season.
- Holiday Inn – 1942; directed by Mark Sandrich; starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Marjorie Reynolds. A musical comedy about musicians preparing for Christmas festivities at a lodge that’s only open on holidays.
- I’ll Be Seeing You – 1944; directed by William Dieterle and George Cukor; starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, and Shirley Temple. A Christmastime romance blooms between a shell-shocked soldier and the convict out on furlough that he meets on a train.
- Christmas in Connecticut – 1945; directed by Peter Godfrey; starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet. A food writer who’s significantly misrepresented her housewife skills suddenly has to pull of a fabulous traditional Christmas dinner.
- It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946; directed by Frank Capra; starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. Indisputably one of the most famous Christmas films of all time, an angel shows a businessman what the world would have been like without him.
- Miracle on 34th Street – 1947; directed by George Seaton; starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, and John Payne. If any film rivals the last entry as most famous Christmas movie ever, it’s this one about the defense of an institutionalized man claiming to be Santa Claus.
- The Bishop’s Wife – 1947; directed by Henry Koster; starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. An angel comes along in human form to help a bishop get his life in order and build a new cathedral during the holiday season.
- Holiday Affair – 1949; directed by Don Hartman; starring Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, and Wendell Corey. A Christmastime romance blossoms between an department store clerk and the widow who cost him his job.
- The Great Rupert – 1950; directed by Irving Pichel; starring Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, and Tom Drake. A classic comedy that’s great for kids, featuring a charming animated dancing squirrel who inadvertently helps out two families.
- A Christmas Carol – 1951; directed by Brian Desmond Hurst; starring Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, and Kathleen Harrison. This is easily one of the most beloved film portrayals of the famous Charles Dickens Christmas classic.
- The Lemon Drop Kid – 1951; directed by Sidney Lanfield and Frank Tashlin; starring Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, and Lloyd Nolan. The Lemon Drop kid finds himself owing an unhappy gangster $10,000 and takes advantage of the Christmas spirit to make some money.
- The Holly and the Ivy – 1952; directed by George More O’Ferrall; starring Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, and Margaret Leighton. A dramatic story about a minister and his family reunited at Christmas, with an emphasis on struggles during the WWII years.
- Susan Slept Here – 1954; directed by Frank Tashlin; starring Dick Powell, Debbie Reynolds, and Anne Francis. The comedic tale of a struggling scriptwriter’s unexpected Christmas present, a juvenile delinquent named Susan.
- White Christmas – 1954; directed by Michael Curtiz; starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. Music, comedy, and romance come together in the Christmastime tale that involves saving a failing inn in Vermont.
- We’re No Angels – 1955; directed by Michael Curtiz; starring Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray. An iconic Christmas comedy about the helpful holiday hijinx of three escaped convicts.
Fifties Film Fan?
Check out some of our other posts about classic movies and movie stars from the 1950s:
- 30 of the Most Popular Classic Movies from the 1950s
- 10 Legendary Film Actresses of the 1950s
- 10 Legendary Movie Actors of the 1950s
- 25 Spooktacular 1950s Horror Films
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