A Christmas Story

Valley Press

Christmas movies come in all shapes and sizes. Some films make you laugh and some make you cry. There are classic films such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” and there are some unlikely films that have become known as Christmas movies because they were released around Christmas, or feature a Christmas setting, such as “Die Hard.”

If you are looking for some holiday cheer this season, as Christmas winds down, here are some holiday movie suggestions:

Back in 1997, Turner Network Television aired the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” 12 times in a row. The marathon started on Christmas Eve night and continued through Christmas day. TBS will do it again this year, starting at 8 p.m. Christmas Eve.

“A Christmas Story” stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, set in the semi-autobiographical life and times of writer Jean Shepherd, who narrates the film, which is set in the 1940s in Hohman, Indiana, a fictionalized version of Shepherd’s hometown of Hammond. Ralphie spends his Christmas season pining for, and scheming ways of, receiving an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle. Adults, including his mom (Melinda Dillon), Old Man (Darren McGavin), teacher (Tedde Moore) and even Santa Claus (Jeff Gillen) get in his way to realizing this most perfect of holiday gifts.

As with “A Christmas Story,” Frank Capra’s 1946 classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a staple of Christmas television programming. The film will air at 8 p.m., Dec. 24, on NBC.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a decent small town banker who has devoted his life to others, but who decides to end it all on Christmas Eve, after he unwittingly becomes involved in a mistaken case of bank fraud, which threatens his spirit and tests his will to live. That is, until a wise angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) compels him to see how his presence has made an incredible impact on the people of his hometown of Bedford Falls.

The 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street” is another holiday classic for the family that continuously finds itself broadcast on television. Headlined by Edmund Gwenn’s iconic turn as a man named Kris Kringle hired to play Santa Claus at the flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street, he begins to restore a little girl’s (Natalie Wood) faith in the spirit of Christmas (much to the chagrin of her mother, played by Maureen O’Hara). Feared mentally ill, Kringle eventually finds himself in court trying to prove to the public, with the help of stubborn lawyer (John Payne), that he is, in fact, Santa.

“Die Hard” is the 1988 action movie that introduced audiences to Bruce Willis’ John McClane. It’s considered a Christmas movie by many people because the entire film takes place during an interrupted Christmas Eve party. Fun fact: the film was not released around Christmas, it came out in July.

Willis’ McClane is a New York City policeman who is visiting his estranged wife and daughters in California. He joins his wife at a holiday party in the headquarters of the company she works for, when the festivities are interrupted by an international group of terrorists led by the terrific late actor Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber).

One Christmas movie you definitely want to watch after the kids have gone to bed is “The Ref.” The 1994 film  directed by Ted Demme stars Denis Leary as Gus, a cat burglar who is forced to take bickering, on-the-verge-of-divorce couple Caroline and Lloyd Chasseur (played by Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) hostage on Christmas Eve when his plans go awry. “The Ref” is a dark, hilarious comedy with stellar performances by the stars and supporting cast including Christine Baranski.

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