20. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
You know it as “You’ve Got Mail.” But long before Tom Hanks emailed Meg Ryan, Jimmy Stewart left handwritten notes for Margaret Sullavan. The two play unsuspecting co-workers at Matuschek & Co., a Budapest gift shop run by Frank Morgan a year after The Wizard of Oz (1939). As the shop gears up for the Christmas rush, tensions flare and romance buds between two hearts that are pen pals by night and work rivals by day. The film is a classic not just for the Christmas season, but all year long, thanks to the trademark “Lubitsch Touch” of its director, Ernst Lubitsch, who revels in his reunion with screenwriter Samson Raphaelson after their masterpiece Trouble in Paradise (1932).
Best Scene: Stewart realizes the identity of his pen pal, as he arrives for a face-to-face meeting.
Best Line: “Oh, my Dear Friend, my heart was trembling as I walked into the post office, and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there.” –Klara
19. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
It took 36 years for Scrooge McDuck to get the role he was born to play, but there he was, finally as Ebeneezer Scrooge in Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The Disney tale is easily the best animated version of the Dickens classic, followed closely by Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962). We also get Goofy as Jacob Marley, Mickey and Minnie as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit, Donald Duck as Fred, Daisy Duck as Belle and Mr. Toad as Fezziwig. The three ghosts are played by Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant and Pete.
Best Scene: A clumsy Jacob Marley botches his haunting, complete with Goofy’s patented “yahahoooie.”
Best Line: “You loved your gold more than that precious creature, and you lost her forever.” –The Ghost of Christmas Past on Scrooge’s loss of his sweetheart Belle
18. Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)
Joel Gray (Cabaret) stars as the voice of Joshua Trundle, a struggling clockmaker assigned to build a special clock tower to win back Santa Claus after an anonymous letter has the town banned from his list of stops. Things go awry when a brainiac kid mouse (Tammy Grimes) meddles with the gears and breaks the clock. Father Mouse (Emmy-winner George Gobel) steps in and teaches him a lesson, inspiring the boy to try to fix the clock before the titular storybook night arrives.
Best Scene: The Trundles sing “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand.”
Best Line: “You don’t know as much as you think because you only think with your head.” –Father Mouse to his son Albert
17. A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)
Everyone’s favorite feline smartass contributed one of the classic pieces of the Christmas canon with this Emmy-nominated TV special. As Jon brings Garfield and Odie to his grandmother’s house, Jon and brother Doc Boy become kids again waiting for Christmas morning. The cynic Garfield throws internal monologue jabs at the giddy family, but comes to embrace the giving spirit as he finds a stack of old letters and delivers them to the grandmother.
Best Scene: Odie gives Garfield a homemade back-scratcher.
Best Line: “All right, you guys, just permit me one sentimental moment here, will you? I have something to say. Christmas: it’s not the giving, it’s not the getting, it’s the loving. There, I said it. Now get outta here.” –Garfield
16. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
While most folks hold up The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) as the greatest of Jim Henson’s x-mas efforts, my favorite will always be the 1987 TV special A Muppet Family Christmas. IMDB voters agree, voting the TV special an 8.2, compared to Carol‘s 7.4. Here, the gang gets snowed in at Fozzie’s mother’s farm, where Fraggle Rock jams out in the basement and even the Sesame Street gang pays a visit. This makes for a number of rare pairings between Henson’s separate puppet groups, a line usually crossed only by Kermit, including Swedish Chef trying to baste Big Bird and Animal finding a soulmate in the Cookie Monster. Tying the whole thing together is a running gag of an icy patch at the front door, sending each new entrant for a spill.
Best Scene: Dr. Teeth & Electric Mayhem interrupt Kermit’s wholesome rendition of “Jingle Bells” with their own upbeat version of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Best Line: “Look out for the icy patch!” –Various Muppets