Yahoo Contributor Network | November 13th, 2009
What is it about great holiday romantic comedies, that we return to over and over? They have an ability to transport us out of our everyday world, and carry us to a place of holiday magic. There is a quality of enjoyment to some movies that is difficult to define but easy to recognize. They draw us in, make us care about the characters, and make us feel like we're there enjoying the holidays with them for a little while. I look forward to watching many of these movies every holiday season. Here are my picks for the ten best Christmas romantic comedies, ranked in reverse order of their greatness. (Please note that I left out a few great holiday movies that are classified as Drama/Romance, rather than Comedy/Romance, including It's a Wonderful Life.)
Holiday Inn (1942). At an inn which is only open on holidays, a singer (Bing Crosby) and a dancer (Fred Astaire) vie for the affections of a beautiful performer (Virginia Dale). This film introduced the Irving Berlin song "White Christmas". And if you are wondering whether the Holiday Inn chain of hotels was named after the film, yes, they were. If for no other reason, this movie is fun to watch so that you can daydream about working only on the holidays. And where else will you find a song-and-dance number for George Washington's birthday?
While You Were Sleeping (1995). A lonely fare collector (Sandra Bullock) saves the life of a man and is mistaken for his fiancée. She spends Christmas with his family, and an endearing comedy ensues. For my taste, the deception continues for too long, but Sandra Bullock fans won't be disappointed.
You've Got Mail (1998). Two business rivals (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) hate each other at the office, but fall in love over the Internet. This is a remake of The Shop Around the Corner and is well done, but I have to give the original movie the nod, hence number 7 is....
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Two employees (Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan) at a Budapest gift shop can barely stand each other, and don't know that they are have been conducting a romance through a post office box. This movie is particularly well-written and contains a memorable supporting cast.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan. A recently widowed man's endearing son Jonah (Ross Malinger) calls a radio talk show to find a new wife for his father. This movie was inspired by "An Affair to Remember" but has a much different plot, but with the familiar "meet at the top of the Empire State Building" theme in common. Ross Malinger as Jonah has a strong role and is very watchable. Some may find this movie too "chick flicky", but overall it is well done.
Serendipity (2001) Jonathan (John Cusack) meets Sara (Kate Beckinsale) while trying to buy the same pair of gloves at a department store. Rather than exchange phone numbers, Sara insists that Jonathan write his number on a $5 bill, while Sara writes hers in a book, suggesting that if they are meant to be together, he will find the book and she will find the bill. This is the most recent movie that made my top 10; what makes this movie special are a memorable musical score, John Cusack's comedic delivery, and Kate Beckinsale's charm.
When Harry Met Sally (1989) Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) have known each other for years, both search for love and fail, and bump into each other time after time. The movie concludes at a New Year's Eve party, and does feature some holiday activities, which is why this is listed as a holiday movie. The script is clever and quick, which may contribute to this being a romantic comedy that many men truly enjoy. Meg Ryan is at her endearing best in this movie (compared to the two other Meg Ryan movies in this list).
The Bishop's Wife (1947) An Episcopal bishop (David Niven) has become a workaholic while overseeing the planning for an elaborate cathedral. He is neglecting his wife (Loretta Young) when Dudley (Cary Grant) an angel sent to help him, arrives. The scene at the skating pond is a favorite holiday highlight of mine every year. Loretta Young does a wonderful job of taking you from her loneliness at the start of the movie, to her joy at the end. An interesting bit of trivia about this movie is that David Niven was originally cast as the angel. When Cary Grant was brought in, he wanted to play the angel, so David Niven was recast.
White Christmas (1954) Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen. A successful performing duo become romantically involved (for two different reasons) with a sister act, and team up to save the failing Vermont inn of their former commanding general. This movie has many wonderful musical numbers, excellent dancing, a heartwarming overall quality, and a wonderful ending. Vera Ellen is my favorite female dancer; there is both a delicate quality and a joy to her dancing, and Danny Kaye is no slouch as a dancer, either. It was a close call whether to make this #1, but....
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck), the author of a popular magazine column on homemaking who can't cook, is forced to host a traditional family holiday for a war hero (Dennis Morgan). An elaborate deception ensues. Some of the best laughs in this movie arise from her pretending to be raising a baby - one who is cared for while the baby's mother is at work. This movie has all the elements of movie magic; it includes traditional holiday Christmas scenes, such as tree trimming and a romantic sleigh ride. It also boasts an excellent supporting cast, and Barbara Stanwyck is unforgettably charming.
I hope you will snuggle up with your favorite hot drink, and savor at least one of these great movies this holiday season.
Citations: "The Bishop's Wife (film)", Wikipedia.com "Holiday Inn (film)", Wikipedia.com "While You Were Sleeping", IMDB.com "White Christmas", IMDB.com "Chistmas in Connecticut", IMBD.com "When Harry Met Sally", IMDB.com "Sleepless in Seattle", Wikipedia.com "Serendipity", Wikipedia.com "The Shop Around the Corner", IMDB.com "You've Got Mail", IMDB.com