A Christmas Story or Miracle on 34th Street? What's your Favorite Holiday Movie?
What is your favorite holiday movie? Chances are it’s one of the following five, chosen—in a Harris poll—by adults as their all-time favorites. Each film below comes with related trivia tidbits:
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) tops the list: the odds an adult considers Miracle on 34th Street to be his or her favorite holiday movie are 1 in 4.35. The head of 20th Century Fox, Daryl Zanuck, set its release date for May, believing that more people watch movies in the summer. Consequently, the studio had to promote its movie without revealing it to be a movie about Christmas. Witness the original trailer, in which a Zanuck look-alike goes so far as to call the film “groovey.”
The odds an adult considers It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) to be his or her favorite holiday movie are 1 in 4.76, making it the second most popular Christmas film among adults. Its production history is an endless spool of trivia:
- “George Bailey” was Jimmy Stewart’s first film role after returning from his extensive service as a USAF bomber pilot in World War II. During his post-war hiatus, he considered abandoning his acting career—Lionel Barrymore, who plays “Mr. Potter” in the film, had to persuade Stewart to take the part.
- Prior to this movie, on-set snow was simulated using cornflakes painted white but that made it difficult to record live dialogue because cornflakes were noisy. So director Frank Capra pumped foamite (a fire-retardant foam) and soapy water through a wind machine to create quieter snowfall.
- In the famous I’ll-give-you-the-moon scene, actress Donna Reed breaks a far-off window with a thrown rock: in reality, Reed really broke it, without the aid of a marksman whom Capra had brought on set to shoot out the windowpane.
- Though nominated for five Oscars, It’s a Wonderful Life received none at all.
In third place is A Christmas Story (1983), the odds being 1 in 5 that an adult considers it his or her favorite holiday movie. Like It’s a Wonderful Life, this movie contains fake snow, made from—depending on the scene—potato flakes, shredded vinyl, or (again) fire-retardant foam. A Christmas Story was not made on a Hollywood lot, however, but in Cleveland. So why no snow? At the time, Cleveland was experiencing one of its warmest winters on record—so warm that “Flick,” played by actor Scott Schwartz, had to “freeze” his tongue to a flagpole by way of a small suction tube (As an adult, Schwartz notoriously went on to appear in multiple pornographic films).
Rounding out the list are National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) and The Santa Clause (1994) in fourth and fifth place. The odds an adult considers one of those his or her favorite holiday movie are 1 in 8.33 and 1 in 9.09, respectively. In one way or another, both are related to movies listed above:
- The assistant director for Christmas Vacation was Frank Capra III, grandson of the director of It’s a Wonderful Life.
- In The Santa Clause, the scene in which children plead “Let him go! Let Santa go!” is a direct reference to Miracle on 34th Street.