Stephen Mosher On Hallmark Christmas Movies
I love Christmas movies. Even when I was down on the holiday I still watched the movies. Obviously I have my favorites among the classics – the same ones everyone else loves. My personal favorites are the original Christmas in Connecticut, The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooge the Musical and Scrooged. Everyone loves A Christmas Story and I am no exception. And there are so many other great classic Christmas movies that I could go on forever.
But I have to admit to also having a thing for made for TV Christmas movies.
And that has, in recent years, turned into an unnatural obsession with Hallmark Channel and Lifetime TV Christmas movies.
And I am not alone.
I have bonded with many others over our mutual adoration of the cheesy made for TV Christmas movies that seem to always have the same stars, almost the same plotline and definitely the same Santa! They are like CRACK to me. I can while away an entire afternoon watching Lacey Chabert, Danica McKellar and Alicia Witt, the Queen of the Hallmark Christmas movie, with a healthy side offering of Brooke Burns, Lori Loughlin and Sarah Lancaster. And I would not be a proper gay male if I did not also say this: the men in these movies are adorable. They range from cute to hot, from sweet to handsome. So there is that happy by product of being a fan of these movies. And I would not be a proper devote of the movie making industry if I did not point out that there is always a part in these movies for an older actor to play the heroine’s father or an established actress that Hollywood is no longer calling to play the hero’s boss. And I love when producers remember the great actors that Hollywood has just shoved aside – this is a particular point in my home since my middle aged acting husband and this middle aged gay male have already begun to experience the sensation of being discarded by the world. So if I can turn on my TV and see Martin Mull playing Kelli Williams dad in Boyfriend For Christmas, Gregory Harrison playing Brandon Routh’s fire chief in 9 Lives of Christmas and Cynthia Gibb playing Bobby Campo’s boss in Sharing Christmas then I am all for it. So much so that my husband and I have actually discussed moving to Canada, where they shoot all these films, just in the hope that we could find work on some Hallmark Christmas movies – because, don’t get me wrong, I gave up performing when I was 24. I would totally go back to it if I could be in the Hallmark Christmas movies.
So let’s examine some of my favorites.
But before we start with the Hallmark movies I do want to say that my love of TV Christmas movies started long before the Hallmark Channel was in existence. So, to show proper history for a phenomenon in my home, I have to name the TV Christmas movies that started it all:
- A Christmas Memory. It’s my favorite of all time. It is based on the short story by my favorite author, Truman Capote, and stars one of the legendary talents of the acting industry, Geraldine Page. It is a flawless piece of film making and it is worth seeking out and enjoying.
- A Gift of Love. It stars Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury and Polly Holiday. It was made in the 80s and it has the elements of a fable. It is down home and lovely and hard to find – but I have my copy, taped on vhs when the film aired.
- Christmas Eve. Legendary Hollywood actress Loretta Young made this delightful modern Christmas movie as a wealthy eccentric looking to do some good in the world and reunite her estranged family. Trevor Howard as her devoted butler? Yes, please.
- A Christmas Carol. George C. Scott as Ebeneezer Scrooge. It’s my longtime favorite version of the Dickens classic.
- It Happened One Christmas. Marlo Thomas is Mary Bailey in the gender switched remake of It’s a Wonderful Life. It shouldn’t work but it does. So well.
There are others but these five will always be playing on my TV this season, along with the classic big screen movies I mentioned above and the modern Christmas films I love, like The Santa Clause and All I Want for Christmas.
But this story is about Hallmark and Lifetime so let’s look at some of my favorites in that genre, and this is in no particular order:
- A Boyfriend For Christmas. Charles Durning’s Santa send Kelli Williams a boyfriend for Christmas and it’s Patrick Muldoon. Secrets and lies and Martin Mull as Kelli’s daddy. It’s delicious and romantic and one of my favorites.
- The 9 Lives of Christmas. Brandon Routh is a fireman. Do I have your attention? He’s a firefighter who loves cats. Does that get you? How about this: Gregory Harrison is his boss. And there’s a down on her luck girl who also loves cats. And guess what, she loves Brandon Routh. Because doesn’t everyone?
- Sharing Christmas. A developer has got ahold of the lease for Ellen Hollman’s Christmas Shop and is going to tear down the building. The adorable Bobby Campo works for the developer and is going to save the day. Did I mention that the developer is the great Cynthia Gibb? How will it all work out?
- The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Henry Winkler gives a stranded traveler a place to stay during the holidays and the hot guy melts the icy heart of Henry’s hot niece. The hot couple are Brooke Burns and Warren Christie, Hello!
- The Mistletoe Inn. Proving that the Queen of Hallmark Christmas movies gets the best scripts, Alicia Witt is a Christmas Romance Writer (this is a thing?) who is too nervous to show anyone her work or even finish her book. So she goes to a writer’s conference where she is swept off her feet by the breathtaking David Alpay, who happens to be the world’s most successful romance novelist, incognito.
- A Holiday Engagement. Bonnie Sommerville’s been dumped so she hires an actor to play her fiancee during a holiday trip home. Her parents are Sam McMurray and Shelley Long and the actor is Jordan Bridges. I buried the lead. Jordan Bridges. Yeah, that’s right. I have a particular fondness for this one.
- My Christmas Dream. Danica McKellar works in retail and can land a position in Paris IF she impresses the big boss. The only problem is she needs David Haydn-Jones to help her impress the boss and the more time she spends with him, the less she wants to move away. The big boss is the luminous Diedre Hall. Merry Christmas!
- Every Christmas Has a Story. Is Lori Loughlin really the Grinch people think she is after she accidentally says On Air that she doesn’t like Christmas?! Her TV producer is going to make her prove she isn’t by sending her to the most Christmas-Y town in America. With a hot co-worker. Happy Holidays!
- It’s Christmas, Carol! A new spin on A Christmas Carol with Carrie Fisher as the Ghost. It’s a Carrie Fisher Christmas, the best present of all.
- Annie Claus is Coming to Town. Maria Thayer is the daughter of Santa, Viveca A. Fox is her galpal and Sam Page is the hunk she is going to fall for. You had me at Sam Page.
- Santa Jr. FULL DISCLOSURE this is NOT a Hallmark movie. But it’s Nick Stabile as Santa’s son and Lauren Holly as the public defender who bails him out when he gets arrested for a B&E. Come on, Now!! This is the first one I watch every holiday season.
- 12 men of Christmas. FULL DISCLOSURE This is NOT a Hallmark movie. It is a Lifetime Movie. But it’s Kristin Chenoweth as a media wunderkind creating a PR frenzy in a small town by making a calendar with the hottest Christmas stocking stuffers of all time – including Josh Hopkins, Stephen Huszar, Jefferson Brown and JESSE PAVELKA. Come on, Now!
- Fir Crazy. Sarah Lancaster sells Christmas trees but doesn’t have any Christmas spirit. Eric Johnson buys a lot of Christmas trees and puts her in a Holiday Mood.
- Coming Home for Christmas. Danica McKellar manages a wealthy family estate that is up for sale. While readying the manse for it’s final days, she draws the estranged family back together and lands love with Neal Bledsoe, the gift that keeps on giving.
- Home By Christmas. FULL DISCLOSURE This is NOT a Hallmark movie. It is a Lifetime Movie. It’s heavy and sometimes quite sad. The wonderful Linda Hamilton is a woman left by her husband, then by her daughter, just because she’s too much of a doormat. She ends up homeless and has to build herself back up. Guess what? She does.
- Mrs. Santa Claus was indeed originally broadcast as a Hallmark presentation, and though it doesn’t fit the mold or the feel of the current Hallmark movies it is a cheesy Christmas classic featuring the Greatest, Miss Angela Lansbury. It has a score by Jerry Herman of Hello, Dolly! and Mame fame. It’s got Charles Durning, Michael Jeter and a delightful cast of actors who make the sugar-y sweet story of Mrs. Claus stranded in 1900’s New York absolutely divine. Just like Dame Angela. Divine.
- A Gift to Remember has a cast of complete unknowns except for Tina Lifford but I loved it. It’s kind of While You Were Sleeping but for Hallmark. And Peter Porte is super cute.
- Christmas Land. The most common theme in the Hallmark movies is the big city corporate person who comes to the small town to ruin life for the people there, only to discover the true meaning of Christmas. This is Nikki Deloach’s turn to be the meanie and to fall in love with Luke McFarlane and we get Cynthia Gibb and Maureen McCormick for good measure! Yeah!!
- Christmas Incorporated. Will the big boss, Steve Lund, shut down the toy factory? Or will his assistant, with whom he grows increasingly smitten, change his mind before he finds out she lied about who she is when he hired her? I just don’t know. But I do know that I love Steve Lund. And true love lasts a lifetime.
- Naughty or Nice. Krissy Kringle accidentally gets Kris Kringle’s book of lists and uses it to expose the wrong doers around her, which (of course) gets her in trouble. It’s a fun premise and I love it. I especially love Hilarie Burton and Matt Dallas. And Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross! Reunited!
I thought, when I started this list, that Alicia Witt would be on it more than once – and she should be because she is the Queen of the genre and she is amazing. I have loved all her Hallmark Christmas movies. And I’m sorry Lacey Chabert didn’t land on this list once. And I’m surprised Danika McKellar is on here twice but I just love her two movies I listed. There are a LOT of these movies to see and I haven’t seen them all, so I am certain my list would change if I took the time out to watch them! They are, in fact, available on DVD! I own six multi packs of Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. And there are more movies on TV every day. Why only this week I taped Christmas Connection starring Brooke Burns and Tom Everett Scott and Christmas Next Door starring Jesse Metcalf! I can’t wait to watch them. Maybe on Christmas Day.
There will be those who read this story and laugh. Or sneer. Or roll their eyes. But I don’t care. Because I’m going to watch my movies and maybe look on social media for groups of people who love these films too. Then we can all share our opinions and I can build up my list of movies to look for next year.
Only I won’t have to wait because, in truth, they show these movies all year round.