Many Deseret News readers who sent in their lists of favorite holiday films submitted them "in no particular order." There was, however, one "wonderful" exception. "It's a Wonderful Life" appeared at the top of more reader lists than any other film, and the 1947 classic tops the final list of films we just have to watch during the holiday season. "Our most favorite, and we MUST watch it EVERY Christmas Eve," wrote Lesa Sims, of Lee's Summit, Mo. Some readers sent in just one suggestion. One sent 52. Lists came everywhere from Scotland to Texas to Wyoming. Utah readers also weighed in, which may explain the popularity of the BYU-produced "Mr. Krueger's Christmas." Not all of the selections are feature-length films, but the overwhelming response for less-than-40-minute favorites featuring Charlie Brown, the Grinch and Scrooge McDuck were impossible to ignore. So … here is what our readers will be sliding in the DVD players over the next two weeks.
An overly sweet and oversize Elf (Will Ferrell) who does not fit in at the North Pole finds that he's even more out of place in New York City, where his real father (James Caan) lives. The film also features Bob Newhart as Papa Elf and Ed Asner as Santa Clause.
MPAA rating: PG
CNS classification: A-II
Run time: 97 minutes
The stop-motion animated television feature still moves audiences 46 years later. The outcast Rudolph ends up on an island of misfit toys.
Run time: 65 minutes
In this movie that now runs on a continuous TV loop during Christmas, young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) plots and schemes to get a Red Ryder BB gun as a gift, but incurs disappointment after disappointment along the way.
MPAA rating: PG
CNS classification: A-II
Running time: 94 minutes
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"(1966) — Jim Carrey played the Grinch in 2000, but most readers prefer to visit the animated version of Whoville. The green hermit tries to take Christmas from the Whos by swiping their presents, food and decorations, only to have his small-size heart changed.
Run time: 26 minutes
Thirty-three years after playing the distraught George Bailey, Stewart played the lonely Willy Krueger. Produced by LDS Church-owned BYU, the movie features Mr. Krueger leading the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in his dream and coming to know the Christ child as a true friend.
"This one never becomes dated for me," Holm wrote.
Running time: 26 minutes
This classic takes viewers from World War II to the hills of Vermont, where Bing Crosby and his singing partner try to help their general-turned-lodge-owner friend through a snowless season.
CNS classification: A-I
Running time: 120 minutes
Charles Schulz's animated classic with the sad, sagging Christmas tree also uplifts. Charlie Brown laments the commercialism of the holiday season, but Linus reminds him what Christmas is all about by retelling the story straight from the New Testament.
Run time: 25 minutes
The story of a 6-year-old who learns to believe and the man who tries to convince others that he's the real Santa is a Christmas mainstay among our readers. The original version (not rated, A-II, 96 minutes), starring Natalie Wood as young Susan Walker, was more favored among those who differentiated between the versions made 47 years apart. The 1994 version (PG, A-I, 114 minutes) stars Mara Wilson as Susan and Richard Attenborough as Kris Kringle.
Charles Dickens' classic story received the most mentions in our survey, but the sentiments are spread out over multiple adaptations. Many viewers have settled on a favorite, whether they feature venerable actors or talking animals.
Muppets seem to be a particular favorite. Mairi McCloud, who currently resides in Scotland, calls "The Muppet Christmas Carol" from 1992 "surprisingly accurate" and "heartwarming." Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and Gonzo. The full-length film (rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America and classified A-I by CNS) has a run time of 85 minutes.
Several readers chose Albert Finney's 1970 musical portrayal of "Scrooge" (G, A-I, 113 minutes) as their favorite. The 1984 television adaptation starring George C. Scott (100 minutes) is an "absolute must," wrote Robb Perry. Several readers went old-school, casting votes for the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim (not rated, A-I, 86 minutes) and the 1938 adaptation featuring Reginald Owen (not rated, A-I, 69 minutes). "Mickey's Christmas Carol" from 1983 (26 minutes) is also popular.
Other favorites include the animated 2009 Disney adaptation featuring Jim Carrey, the 1999 television version starring Patrick Stewart and 1962's animated "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol."
The story of George Bailey continues to resonate with viewers during the holiday season. James Stewart plays the role of a good man who contemplates ending his life on Christmas Eve at the prospect of his business collapsing. With the help of a guardian angel, George realizes that his loved ones — and the town of Bedford Falls — are not better off without him.
"George Bailey's life is wonderful because over the years he makes choices of sacrifice that benefit others," wrote Doug Holm of Springville. "And the gift given by the angel Clarence is one of perspective. Often we overlook the many good things in our life that still outweigh the singular difficult trial we might be going through."
Catholic News Service classification: A-II
Running time: 130 minutes