8 Forgotten Christmas Films of the 1940s
Rare Holiday Gems
Are you looking for a Christmas movie to watch during the holidays? Nothing warms a winter day like a mug of hot chocolate and a wonderful old movie.
This year, start a new movie tradition with a "forgotten" holiday classic from the 1940s. This hub showcases eight lesser-known Christmas movies of the era.
Maybe you've watched all of the popular Christmas movies. If your personal DVD collection is like mine, you already own a copy of White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
The beloved holiday staples never go out of style, but maybe you want to light up your Christmas with something new. The "forgotten" classics are harder to find, but the search will be well worth your effort.
Movies that are in the public domain are available for free viewing at the Internet Archives Moving Image Library. Others may be found at a movie rental store or your public library. To locate a copy for your personal collection, visit the big entertainment retailers for online or in-store purchases.
Are you ready to start a new tradition this year? Here is my list of eight wonderful "forgotten" films of the 1940s. Merry Christmas and enjoy the show!
Amazon Price: $0.70
List Price: $9.95
1. Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
Beyond Tomorrow is a real holiday gem. The 1940 black-and-white film was later released as a colorized version called Beyond Christmas.
The story centers on the ghosts of three old men who are determined to help two young people they befriended one Christmas Eve.
Harry Carey, Charles Winninger and C. Aubrey Smith play the trio of matchmaking ghosts. Richard Carlson and Jean Parker star as the young romantics.
This sweet, sentimental movie begs rediscovery by modern audiences. The Internet Archive works to collect films that reside in the public domain, and you can watch this one online for free.
Amazon Price: $19.98
2. Remember the Night (1940)
Remember The Night is another holiday gem from 1940. Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi and Sterling Holloway star in the romantic comedy written by Preston Sturges.
The story centers on a young woman and an assistant district attorney. When the woman is arrested for shoplifting at Christmas time, the attorney assigned to her case moves to postpone the trial.
During the holiday break, the woman and the attorney fall in love. But, as Sturges summarized, “love reformed her and corrupted him.”
Soon, a series of unfortunate events occur that threatens to ruin the young man's future and send both lovers to jail.
Amazon Price: $12.99
3. Penny Serenade (1941)
Penny Serenade is often included in Christmas film lists because of some holiday settings. The melancholgy drama from 1941 stars Cary Grant and Irene Dunn.
The story centers on a young married couple whose hopes and dreams shatter into unexpected pain and sadness. As they struggle to overcome their problems and keep their marriage together, they wonder if the relationship is worth saving.
The story unfolds in flashbacks, triggered by musical recordings. The music evokes numerous memories for the wife, as she prepares to leave her husband and their marriage.
Penny Serenade is available for viewing on the Internet Archive. Don't miss this holiday classic, but watch it with a box of tissues!
Amazon Price: $16.72
4. Christmas Holiday (1944)
Christmas Holiday is the film noir of holiday film collections. Loosely based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, the 1944 movie stars Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly.
The story centers on a cabaret singer in World War II New Orleans who starts a conversation with a soldier stranded during the holidays. Through a series of flashbacks, the woman recounts her tragic story of marriage to a murderous Creole scoundrel.
This dark film is the most obscure Christmas movie on my list. It is very hard to locate for rent or for purchase. If you know where to find a copy in stock, please share details in the comments section.
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List Price: $14.98
5. I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
I’ll Be Seeing You is a tender-hearted wartime drama starring Joseph Cotten, Ginger Rogers and Shirley Temple. An old time radio drama inspired the 1944 film.
The story follows a kindhearted soldier who suffers from shell shock and battle fatigue. When he is released from a mental hospital for the Christmas holidays, he meets a female convict on furlough from prison to visit her family.
Their mutual loneliness blossoms into a sweet romance. Both lovers long for a normal life together, but they wonder if that is possible once their secrets are known.
The popular Bing Crosby recording of "I'll Be Seeing You" is featured throughout the movie.
6. Star in the Night (1945)
Star in the Night is a short Christmas drama starring J. Carrol Naish and Donald Woods. It was director Don Siegal’s debut film, and it won an Oscar for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).
The 1945 film is a modernized version of the biblical Christmas story. It also contains elements of the Charles Dickens novella, “A Christmas Carol.”
According to a Turner Classic Movies review, the story is shared "from the point of view of a Scrooge-like jaded man with little use for the Christmas holiday."
Like Christmas Holiday, Star in the Night is another obscure film that is very hard to locate. If you know where to find a copy for rent, purchase or viewing, please share the details in the comments section.
Amazon Price: $4.96
List Price: $9.97
7. It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
It Happened on Fifth Avenue is a 1947 Christmas comedy starring Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, Victor Moore and Gale Storm.
The movie is set in New York City -- specifically Fifth Avenue, "the richest avenue in the world."
The story centers on a homeless man and his friends, who secretly take up residence in a Fifth Avenue townhouse while the owners spend their Christmas in the South.
A song from this 1940s film, "That’s What Christmas Means to Me,” became a 1950s hit for Eddie Fisher.
Amazon Price: $9.50
List Price: $19.98
8. Holiday Affair (1949)
Holiday Affair is a romantic comedy from 1949. Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey and Harry Morgan star in the film.
Set during the holiday season, this story centers on a war widow who can't afford to buy her son a toy train for Christmas.
When a war veteran discovers her plight, he offers to buy the toy. This begins a complicated holiday romance, with lively competition for the widow's affections.
Reference Sources / Further Reading
- AMC. (n.d.) "Top 20 Christmas Movies." American Movie Classics. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- IMDb. (n.d.) [Various film titles] Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
- TCM. (n.d.) [Various film titles] Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
- Wikipedia contributors. (November 30, 2010) [Various film titles] Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
Copyright © 2010. Annette R. Smith. All rights reserved.
Published: November 30, 2010 / Modified: December 13, 2012.
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