by Brett Leveridge
There's something about the holidays that brings up a wish to revisit beloved classic films, and with this particular holiday season, as we’re urged to isolate at home for our safety and that of others, beloved films can bring us comfort and hope. Here are 25 movies we think you'll enjoy, many of them with a Christmas theme, that are airing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in December 2020.
Tuesday, December 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET
At first glance, this picture, which stars Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden, seems just a moderately compelling suspense drama set on an in-flight airplane, but when you're armed with the knowledge that this is the film spoofed in the irreverent 1980 comedy Airplane!, you'll see it in a whole new light.
Wednesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. ET
This mysterious romantic drama, based on Charlotte Brontë's acclaimed novel, stars Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles, respectively, as a young governess of modest means and gifts who falls in love with Edward Rochester, her wealthy employer who is the owner of Thornfield Hall. Margaret O'Brien costars (and watch also for a very young Elizabeth Taylor).
Saturday, December 5, at 5:45 p.m. ET
In this delightful comedy set during the Christmas season, Victor Moore plays an amiable man, down on his luck, who moves into a Fifth Avenue mansion while the well-to-do family that owns the mansion is wintering in Florida. As you might expect, humorous complications ensue. Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles and Gale Storm also star.
Late Saturday, December 5, at 4:00 a.m. ET
In this charming romantic comedy, a flight attendant (Jane Wyman) finds herself in a fix when she falls in love with an airline pilot, a college professor and a businessman, each of whom is named—you guessed it—Mike. Van Johnson, Howard Keel and Barry Sullivan also star.
Sunday, December 6, at 4:15 p.m. ET
In this romantic comedy set during the holidays, a young widow (Janet Leigh) must choose between nice, safe but boring businessman (Wendell Corey) and a romantic hunk with a bit less ambition but plenty of appeal (Robert Mitchum).
Sunday, December 6, at 6 p.m. ET
In this classic Christmas comedy, Barbara Stanwyck plays a homemaking columnist (think Martha Stewart circa 1945) who in actuality can't boil water. She finds herself forced to host a war hero for the holidays as a publicity stunt and must scramble to hide her shortcomings as a homemaker. Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall costar.
Monday, December 7 at 9:30 a.m. ET
In this romantic comedy, a classified ads salesman for a New York newspaper (Eddie Albert) dreams of trading in his car for a boat and a life of freedom on the sea. His plans go awry, though, and he soon experiences complications in his professional and personal lives, to boot. Joan Leslie, Alan Hale Sr., Dickie Moore and William Lundigan costar.
Monday, December 7, at 12:51 p.m. ET
TCM's Stars of the Month for December are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and the network is doing it up right in paying tribute to the beloved duo. Over the course of three Mondays this month—December 7, 14 and 28—TCM will, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET, will be airing 67 Laurel and Hardy shorts and features, a total of 47 hours of programming. We think you should watch them all, truth be told, but we're especially recommending this short, one of their earliest efforts as a team.
Tuesday, December 8, at 5:45 p.m. ET
This Alfred Hitchcock classic finds James Stewart playing an adventurous photographer who is stuck at home with a broken leg idly watching his neighbors through the window of his NYC apartment when he stumbles upon what appears to be a murder committed by someone he spots in a nearby apartment. Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr coster.
Tuesday, December 8, at 8 p.m. ET
There are have been many adaptations of Charles Dicken's classic Christmas story, but this is one of our favorites. Reginald Owen portrays Ebenezer Scrooge while Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart (parents of actress and former Guideposts staffer June Lockhart) portray Bob and Emily Cratchit.
Thursday, December 10 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Rosalind Russell stars as Elizabeth Kenny in this true story of an Australian nurse who discovered an effective treatment for polio, but struggled to get the medical establishment to adopt it. Dean Jagger costars.
Friday, December 11, at 11:30 a.m. ET
This inspiring movie, starring Mickey Rooney and Frank Morgan and written by playwright and author William Saroyan (he later adapted it into a novel) is a tale of the homefront during World War II, as told through the trials, tribulations and victories of a family in a small Calfornia town. Also in the cast are Fay Bainter, Marsha Hunt, Donna Reed and Van Johnson.
Saturday, December 12, at 6:30 a.m. ET
You're probably familiar with Perry Mason, the popular television series that aired from 1957-66, with Raymond Burr starring as Mason, but did you know there was a popular film series in the 1930s based on the same books? It's true. Warren William was the first actor portray Erle Stanley Gardner's fictional lawyer/detecive, and here's your chance to see his take on the character. Margaret Lindsay and Errol Flynn costar.
Saturday, December 12, at 1:30 p.m. ET
In director John Ford's classic western, three outlaws (John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey, Jr.) suddenly find themselves the guardians of a newborn infant, after promising the child's dying mother they would take care of the child. This was the fourth remake of this story, which was filmed twice during the silent era, as The Three Godfathers (1916) and Marked Men (1919), and twice as talkies—1929's Hell's Heroes (which airs on TCM at 7:30 a.m. on December 21), and 1936's Three Godfathers (which airs on TCM at 6 a.m. on December 19).
Sunday, December 13 at 4 p.m. ET
This family favorite is a nostalgic look at a year in the life of the Smiths, a Midwestern family living in St. Louis just after the turn of the century. The scenes that take place at Christmastime account for just a small portion of the film, but they're so moving and memorable that this beloved picture has come to be associated with the holiday season. This is the film that introduced the beloved, if bittersweet, Christmas song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," which Judy Garland performs beautifully. Mary Astor and Margaret O'Brien costar.
Friday, December 18, at 8 p.m. ET
This lesser-known film has become a favorite among Christmas movie aficionados, though it might not be of much interest to (or appropriate for) younger kids. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, written by Preston Sturges and ably directed by Mitchell Liesen, Remember the Night is a celebration of the love, encouragement and acceptance a family can provide.
Saturday, December 19, at 6 p.m. ET
Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) is so focused on securing the funding to build a new cathedral that he is neglecting his wife, Julia (Loretta Young), and their child. An angel named Dudley (Cary Grant) arrives to guide Henry (who is the only person who knows Dudley is an angel) through his difficulties, but Dudley finds himself falling in love with Julia, which naturally is upsetting to Henry. So we're left with a very unusual love triangle. How will it resolve itself? You'll have to watch this holiday classic to find out.
Sunday, December 20, at 4:00 p.m. ET
This romantic comedy stands as one of director Ernst Lubitsch's finest achievements. James Stewart plays Alfred Kralik, a retail clerk who is so devoted to his work that he hasn't time for a social life. He does have a pen pal, though, a woman he's never met in person, who provides a spark of romance in his life. Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) is a new employee who grates on Alfred's nerves and seems the polar opposite of his delightful penpal. Even if you have already guessed the twist that brings this picture to comedic (and romantic) life, you'll be delighted as you watch this classic romantic comedy unfold. Be sure to point out Frank Morgan, the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, to the kids; he plays Alfred and Klara's boss,
Monday, December 21, at 8 p.m. ET
In this relatively unsung holiday jewel, Loretta Young and Celeste Holm portay a pair of nuns who arrive in a New England town called Bethlehem and set about encouraging the locals to help them build a children's hospital there.
Monday, December 21, at 9:45 p.m. ET
Fulfilling her final request, a Hollywood press agent (Fred MacMurray) returns to her hometown the remains of a young actress who died after completing her first and only film. He strives to get all the churches in town to ring their bells for three days in her honor while also trying to convince a studio head to release her movie. Alida Valli and Lee J. Cobb costar, and Frank Sinatra portrays a priest.
Saturday, December 26, at 8 p.m. ET
The days between Christmas and New Year's Eve are the perfect time to revisit classic movies, and few films hold up to repeated viewings as well as Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains all deliver iconic performances, and Dooley Wilson's rendition of As Time Goes By will pull at your heartstrings. Casablanca is as close to perfect as Hollywood movies get.
Sunday, December 27, at 8:15 a.m. ET
This wartime romance finds a G.I. (Robert Walker), on a two-day leave prior to shipping out for Europe, meeting a local girl (Judy Garland) at NYC's Pennsylvania Station. Over the next 48 hours, they experience a whirlwind romance that could change their lives forever. Vincente Minnelli directs.
Sunday, December 27, at 11:30 a.m. ET
Fans of screwball comedy rank My Favorite Wife as one of the best in the genre, and deservedly so. Irene Dunne plays a woman who is rescued after a lengthy stay on a desert island following a shipwreak; she returns home to find that her husband (Cary Grant) is just about to remarry. That's when the fun begins. Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick costar.
Tuesday, December 29 at 11:45 a.m. ET
Perhaps the most beloved movie musical of all, Singin' in the Rain takes the viewer back to the early days of talking pictures, when some silent picture stars struggled to find their footing with the ascent of sound. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor all shine in this delightful celebration of Hollywood's golden age.
Thursday, December 31 at 9:15 a.m. ET
TCM continues its annual New Year's Eve tradition of airing all six Thin Man pictures back to back. What better way way to wind down what has been, in so many ways, a difficult year than to spend the day with Nick and Nora Charles (ably portrayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy) and their adorable pooch, Asta? The original film is followed by the other entries in this popular series: After the Thin Man (1936) at 11 a.m., Another Thin Man (1939) at 1 p.m., Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) at 2:45 p.m., The Thin Man Goes Home (1944) at 4:30 p.m. and Song of the Thin Man (1947) at 6:15 p.m.
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.