Classic movies for all ages.
It’s Advent—‘tis the season to put our various personal screens aside and binge-watch as one. Here are some great movies, appropriate for the entire family, and now streaming on Netflix and Amazon. Sorry to say that the pickings are rather slim for “free” movies this year — most of these are available only for a fee.
1. A Christmas Carol (1938): This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of greed and redemption is perfect for Advent, but hats off to you if you can get your HDTV-raised kids to embrace the B&W. Streaming on Netflix.
2. White Christmas (1954): Sappy, sentimental Greatest Generation musical that’s great nostalgic fun, with terrific songs. Streaming on Netflix.
3. The Miracle on 34th Street (1947): A favorite Christmas movie on the power of faith — the “Elf” of its time (see below). Free with Amazon prime.
4. Elf (2003): A great Christmas movie which, for our family, has made bumper-to-bumper Thanksgiving traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike bearable for all three generations stuck in a minivan together. Amazon.
5. A Christmas Story (1983): Based on Jean Shepherd’s reminiscences from a 1940s childhood — stands up to repeated Christmastime rewatchings. Amazon.
6. The Nativity Story (2006): The makers of this 2006 retelling of the birth of Jesus went to great pains to make the sets for Nazareth and Bethlehem seem real. Put yourself in the scene of the Gospels — Ignatian spirituality-style. Amazon.
7. Joyeux Noel (2005): A French film about the “Christmas Truce “ of 1914, when soldiers dropped their arms during World War I. Rated PG-13. Amazon.
8. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): Nothing like contemplating suicide to put things into perspective! The classic Christmas movie. Amazon (available only for purchase).
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): Beautiful adaptation of the C. S. Lewis classic. The snowy scenes are the perfect antidote to this unseasonably warm El Niño winter. Amazon.
10. Bells of St. Mary’s (1945): Stars Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as a priest and nun at a Catholic School—the Christmas pageant is what makes it a holiday favorite. Free with Amazon Prime.