10 Underrated Christmas Movies You Probably Never Watched
It’s holiday movie season and every year there seems to be a deluge of new Christmas movies from Hallmark and Netflix. But for many of us, it’s also the time of year to visit some classics like It’s a wonderful life Where A Christmas story. But what if you want something new to yourself, but with that same classic movie warmth? Pull on your most comfy sweater, grab some eggnog or hot buttered rum, and get ready to fall in love with these little-known classics streaming now on HBO Max, Criterion Channel and for rent on digital platforms.
From bubbly romantic comedies and classic film noir to obscure animated family films, there will definitely be something for everyone on this list, whether they’ve been mean or nice.
Read on to discover 10 of the lesser-known Christmas movies to watch on streaming services this holiday season.
Hired as a temporary help for the holidays, saleswoman Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) receives a layoff notice from the John B. Merlin and Son department store in New York a few days before Christmas. On her way home, she sees a woman leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage and decides to take him home to shelter from the cold. The owner’s son, David Merlin (David Niven), later mistakenly believes Polly to be a single mother. After organizing his return to work, he begins to fall in love. Meanwhile, her father thinks David is the father of Polly’s child. With charming performances, this wacky comedy is as bubbly as a glass of champagne.
Remember the night
Written by Preston Sturges and directed by Mitchell Leisen, this romantic comedy stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray – four years before their iconic couple in Double indemnity. Lee Leander (Stanwyck) is arrested for stealing a bracelet, but her trial is delayed until after Christmas on technical grounds because District Attorney Jack Sargeant (MacMurray) does not want a jury filled with holiday cheer. However, he also doesn’t want her to spend Christmas Eve in jail. On their way to Lee’s ex-mother, the two find themselves stranded in the Pennsylvania countryside and, of course, fall in love. A film perfectly balanced between end-of-year melancholy and joie de vivre.
Lady in the lake
Based on the novel of the same name Raymond Chandler, star Robert Montgomery not only stars as Los Angeles private investigator Phillip Marlowe, but also directed the film. Shot almost entirely from Marlowe’s perspective, the characters speak directly to the camera. Montgomery’s Marlowe is mostly heard, his face only occasionally seen as a reflection in a mirror. When managing editor Adrienne Fromsett (Audrey Totter) hires Marlowe days before Christmas, he finds himself in a twisted mystery involving beautiful but devious women, endless greed, and cold-blooded murder. While the camera gadget can get a little smelly at times, there really isn’t anything else like it.
It happened on 5th Avenue
Released the same year as the original Miracle on 34th Street, this Roy Del Ruth ensemble comedy follows homeless Aloysius T. McKeever (Victor Moore), who makes his home every Christmas season in the barricaded Fifth Avenue mansion of the world’s second richest man (Charles Ruggles). ) during his vacation absence. The kind-hearted McKeever gets more than he expected when he leaves ex-GI Jim Bullock (Don DeFore), his war pals Whitey (Alan Hale, Jr.) and Hank (Edward Ryan) and their families , plus 18 – old Trudy “Smith” (Gale Storm) shares the mansion with him. Although he directly addresses the housing crisis after WWII, Del Ruth’s questioning of how America is failing its veterans still resonates today.
It happened on 5th Avenue is available to stream on HBO Max.
The Holiday Affair (1949)
Bursting with holiday cheer, Robert Mitchum, thrown at the guy in order to rehabilitate his image following a marijuana bust, is overflowing with charm as a bohemian seasonal sales clerk who romances Janet Leigh’s war widowed single mom . They meet when appearer Connie (Leigh) inadvertently costs Mitchum her job after she buys him a toy train. Complicating matters further is Connie’s boyfriend Carl (Wendell Corey) and her precocious song Timmy (Gordon Gebert), who thinks the train is a gift to him. The chemistry between Leigh and Mitchum is off the charts. Their first kiss is hot enough to toast chestnuts.
holiday affair is available to stream on HBO Max.
Susan slept here
Shot in glorious Technicolor, Susan slept here is one of those storylines that only make sense in classic movies. Dick Powell (in his last movie role) stars as Mark Christopher, a Hollywood screenwriter suffering from writer’s block after winning an Oscar. On Christmas Eve, her pal, Vice Squad Sergeant Sam Hanlon, brings 17-year-old wanderer Susan Landis (a spirited Debbie Reynolds) into her luxurious bachelor pad so she doesn’t have to pass by. the night alone in prison. While this sparks the idea of ââa juvenile delinquency film, the situation also puts Mark in a sticky situation with his longtime fiancÃ©e Isabella (a glamorous Anne Francis). Meanwhile, Glenda Farrell as Mark’s secretary, Maude, almost ran away with the whole movie.
Susan slept here is available to stream on HBO Max.
Bell, book and candle
Perhaps the coolest Christmas movie ever made, this mid-century fantasy romance stars Kim Novak as a posh Greenwich Village witch turned art dealer named Gillian whose holiday blues are cured. when she falls in love with her neighbor editor Shep (Jimmy Stewart). On Christmas Eve, Shep and his fiancee Merle (Janice Rule) visit the Zodiac Club, where they meet Gillian, his aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) and her wizarding brother Bongo (Jack Lemmon). Determined to have Shep, Gillian uses her Siamese cat and her familiar Pyewacket to cast a love spell on her. However, Gillian eventually learns that human love isn’t that simple.
Bell, book and candle is available to cable subscribers on Watch TCM.
In this absolutely black Spanish comedy by director Luis GarcÃa Berlanga, a group of pious women from a small provincial town organize a Christmas campaign with the motto âFeed a poor man at your tableâ. As the film progresses, the city’s wealthy compete to show the poor man they have helped, while barely hiding their distaste for them. At the center of the countryside is PlÃ¡cido, a poor man who is dragged from one activity to another and is therefore unable to make payments on his newly acquired motorbike. It is the season of benevolence towards man, but this film serves as a reminder to the privileged that many people struggle all year round and that performative charity only calms their own conscience.
PlÃ¡cido is available to stream on Criterion channel.
Nestor the Christmas donkey with long ears
Produced by Rankin / Bass, this forgotten ’70s special is the most depressing of all. Based on a song written by Gene Autry, it follows Nestor, an unusually long-eared donkey living during the Roman Empire. Pushed around by their village, Nestor and his mother flee, only for his mother to die while protecting Nestor from the freezing cold. Later, Nestor meets a cherub who tells him that he is needed in Bethlehem. Her long ears help her guide Mary and Joseph to safety during a sandstorm. A little like Rudolph the red nosed reindeeris the story of an outcast who learns that his differences are only acceptable when they prove to be useful to others. Fa la la la la.
The silent partner
Written to spec by Curtis Hanson, who would later direct the ultimate Christmas crime film LA Confidential, The silent partner follows apathetic bank teller Miles (Elliott Gould) as he finds himself drawn into a world of crime after discovering the bank is about to be robbed by a man disguised as a mall Santa Claus. Instead of informing his bosses, he begins to hide money, thinking he can flag everything as missing when the theft finally takes place. However, when the thief, a psychopath named Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer), discovers the ploy, he becomes obsessed with Miles and determined to get all the money for himself. Dark and bloody, this movie truly understands that greed is the reason for the season.