Nothing says "Christmas" and "joyful" quite like an old black and white holiday movie, right? OK, I know what some of you might already be thinking: Black and white? Uhm...boring! I can't sit through that! So, let's address this before we get any further. While your typical monochromatic film might not be as jaw dropping in terms of visuals as say, the upcoming Star Wars film, the quiet simplicity of a good old classic film, stripped of special effects, CGI — and yes, even color — can do wonders for your holiday cheer.
Why? Because it reminds you of a time when life was a bit simpler, storytelling a bit less convoluted, and holiday sentiment a bit more overt. In other words, watching classic black and white holiday films feels like what hot chocolate tastes like: Warm. Familiar. Sweet. Full of marshmallows. (So maybe not that last part, but you where I am going with this.)
So, as you're decorating your tree, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or just in the mood to watch a holiday movie, put on a black and white classic! One of the following nine will be a refreshing respite from all the colored films you're used to watching this time of year.
1. Babes in Toyland, 1934
Based on Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta of the same name, the story takes place in the fantastical world of nursery rhymes, and follows Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum as they make sure Little Bo Peep doesn't have to marry the evil Barnaby.
2. The Thin Man, 1934
Lead characters Nick and Nora (played by William Powell and Myrna Loy) throw a Christmas Eve party in their hotel room and get swept up in a murder mystery case.
3. The Shop Around The Corner, 1940
Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) are co-workers at a gift shop, but also pen pals — they just don't know that second part yet. Following a similar storyline to 1990's You've Got Mail, The Shop Around The Corner unfolds as Christmas approaches and these two unsuspecting romantic partners fall in love through written correspondence.
4. Holiday Inn, 1945
The Holiday Inn follows Jim (Bing Crosby) and Ted (Fred Astaire) as they operate a hotel that's only open on the holidays and vie for the affection of the same woman. (Fun fact: the classic Christmas song "White Christmas" actually debuted in this movie.)
5. Christmas In Connecticut, 1945
Here's the story: Barbara Stanwyck is a food journalist who can't cook, and doesn't live in a country farm — though, in her professional life, that's what she claims. Her boss doesn't know that she's been lying to him, and, of course, decides to invite himself over for Christmas.
6. It's A Wonderful Life, 1946
Would Christmas actually be Christmas without the film It's A Wonderful Life? I feel like no, but maybe that's just me. If you're unfamiliar with the plot, here's the basic run down: After George Bailey (played by James Stewart) wishes he had never been born, his wish comes true. Sentimentality and feelings (lots of feelings) ensue.
7. A Miracle on 34th Street, 1947
An old man by the name of Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa Claus actor during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and claims to be the real Santa. Doris Walker, the Macy's executive, is hesitant to believe him, and she takes the case to court. Is he actually Santa Claus or just another impostor?
8. The Bishop's Wife, 1947
Set during the Christmas season, The Bishop's Wife revolves around Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) and his quest to raise money for a cathedral. When Dudley (Carey Grant) — who claims to be an angel — comes into his life, Henry is forced to reconsider his priorities.
9. Scrooge, 1951
We all know the story behind Charles Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol — three ghosts visit Ebeneezer Scrooge in an effort to make him less grumpy as a person, and more cheerful about Christmas. But, while some retellings are enjoyable, there's nothing quite like the 1951 original.
It really is the most wonderful time of the year to cuddle up and watch one of these classics. (Or two of them. Or three. Or four. OK, ALL OF THEM.)