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Readers rate these films perfect for Christmas

By Jeffrey Jackson

jjackson@postbulletin.com

Looking for a way to turn even the grinchiest of the grinches into the epitome of the ghost of Christmas present? So were we. So we turned to readers of the Post-Bulletin, who came through with their suggestions of some long-forgotten — or in some cases, virtually unknown — holiday movies full of holiday cheer.

Here are some of their suggestions:

Margaret Tjepkes, of Stewartville, nominates "The Bishop’s Wife," the 1947 classic starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young. "It’s a sweet story with a wonderful lesson, if you’re looking for that," said Tjepkes. "I believe it’s way better than ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ which is tiresome and overrated, in my opinion."

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Grant plays Dudley, an angel who is sent on a mission to straighten out a bishop whose desire to build a cathedral has caused him to forget not only the true meaning of Christmas, but what his faith calls him to do.

If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, there’s a reason: "The Bishop’s Wife" was remade in 1996 as "The Preacher’s Wife" starring Denzel Washington as Dudley and Whitney Houston as, well, the preacher’s wife.

If you’re looking for another Christmas movie with the always wonderful Loretta Young, Karen Berg, of Fountain, suggests the 1986 made-for-television movie "Christmas Eve," which also features Trevor Howard, Arthur Hill and Ron Leibman."

"It’s the story of a grandmother with a terminal illness who hasn’t seen her three grandchildren for 16 years. Her wish is to have them home for Christmas," Berg said. "It’s about love and forgiveness and family, all part of the Christmas story. Although everyone reacts differently, for me, it’s at least a six-tissue movie."

Berg points out that the film is "family-friendly" and appropriate for all ages.

Speaking of "family-friendly" films, Judy Peterson, of Rochester, dared us — yes, dared us — to consider two movies — "The Homecoming" and "The House Without a Christmas Tree."

"The Homecoming" is the film that introduced the country to the wholesome Walton family, who became a mainstay on television in the 1970s. "I make my mom watch it with me every year," Peterson said of the 1971 made-for-TV movie. "I enjoy the family interaction and emphasis on what’s important at Christmas."

Peterson also dates herself by revealing that "The House Without a Christmas Tree" (1972) also was a film she enjoyed from her childhood. "My heart just aches for the poor, motherless Addie, whose father won’t let her have a Christmas tree," she writes. "Fortunately, a Christmas miracle occurs, and there is a happy ending."

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If you believe Christmas just isn’t Christmas without some cartoons, Joan Hunziker-Dean suggests the British animated short film "The Snowman." Based on the 1978 children’s book by Raymond Briggs, the Oscar-nominated film, like the book before it, has no words, choosing to tell its story through pictures, action and music.

"The musical score alone is worth a listen, and the song ‘Walking in the Air’ is a highlight," Hunziker-Dean said. "Humorous and emotionally moving, this film appeals to both young children and families."

Happy watching and merry Christmas.

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