Christmas is the best time to spend with your family in the nice, warm, cozy comfort of your home. It’s also the time when we get into traditions more than any other time of the year. And, what screams ‘rustic’ and ‘tradition’ more than 1970s cinematography?
To get you into that lovely old-but-gold Christmas mood, I’ve made a list of the ten best 70s Christmas movies to watch these holidays. There’s a little bit of everything on this list, from horror to comedy, from animation to drama, so make sure to check it all out and enjoy the holiday season to the fullest! The list is ranked solely on IMDb rating.
10. Home For The Holidays (1972)
IMDb rating: 6.3/10
What’s it about: A wealthy man, Benjamin Morgan, has been estranged from his four daughters for about nine years, as they blame him for their mother’s suicide. Now, he is slowly falling ill, and he calls upon his daughter to come and help him kill his new wife, who Benjamin believes has been slowly poisoning him to get his money.
Why you should watch it: This is the only horror flick on the list, and I found it incredibly amusing. Sure, the effects aren’t as cool as you would expect them to be today, but the plot is kind of cool.
You see, the new wife was already accused of poisoning her first husband but then acquitted. And, it seems she isn’t trying to kill only Ben, but the four sisters too. It’s a cool film that you’ll almost certainly enjoy, even if you’re not a big horror fan. Also, everything happens on Christmas Eve.
9. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976)
IMDb rating: 6.6/10
What’s it about: Rudolph embarks on a new adventure to find Happy, the baby new year after Father Time contacts Santa Claus and tells him that Happy is missing. The Red-Nosed Reindeer searches the islands of the Archipelago of Last Year, only to realize – he isn’t the only one searching.
He has to race against Eon, who wants the baby all for himself, but with the help of some friends, Rudolph manages to find the baby and ensure everyone has a Happy New Year.
Why you should watch it: It’s not a Christmas movie, per se, but rather a New Year’s movie. Still, it has Rudolph, Santa, the North Pole, and more that makes it feel Christmasy. Also, the wordplay with Happy, the new year baby needed for a Happy New Year, was too cute, and the stop-animation is wonderful, as it is in other Rudolph-based films and shorts of the era.
8. An American Christmas Carol (1979)
What it’s about: Benedict Slade is a businessman living in Depression-era New England, where he often seizes sole possessions of people who can’t pay off their loans. He hates Christmas, giving, and anything remotely similar, but it all changes after he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, appearing as the people whose possessions he took.
Why you should watch it: Every couple of years, a new version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol pops out in an adaptation. This one was one of my favorites from the 70s, starring Henry Winkler as Ebenezer Scrooge. Only, he isn’t called Scrooge, but rather Benedict Slade.
There are some nice twists to the story, but the end result is the same, loving same – our main character goes from a grumpy old miser to a loving, caring, generous man that understands the Christmas Spirit better than anyone.
7. A Flintstone Christmas (1977)
IMDb rating: 6.9/10
What it’s about: Santa Claus has an accident and crashes into the Flintstones’ home after spraining an ankle on their roof on Christmas Eve. Fred just accepted to dress up as Santa for a charity event, but it seems that he’ll have to be the real deal this year and help save Christmas due to Santa’s injury. Of course, his best friend Barney is there to help.
Why you should watch it: This is the one to watch with the entire family – from your small kids to the older folks. I absolutely love the Flintstones, and this wonderful Christmas tale will have you laugh out loud and have your hearts warmed at the same time.
It only lasts for about an hour, so it won’t be a problem to keep the kids entertained and not bored after half of the movie. It’s also funny to see that the Flintstones celebrated Christmas in the Stone Age before it was cool!
6. Scrooge (1970)
IMDb rating: 7.5/10
What it’s about: A retelling of the classic Charles Dickens story, set in the 1860s. Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of his former business partner, the Christmas Past, the Christmas Present, and the Christmas Yet To Come, which show him the error of his ways and make him change into a better person, filled with love, joy, and song!
Why you should watch it: When our number six has such a high rating, you know we’re in for a great list! Scrooge is, yet again, a classic take on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (I told you there’s a new version every couple of years), only this time, it’s in the form of a musical.
Also, Scrooge is visited not by three but four ghosts – the first being that of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. I also liked the portrayal of Scrooge and a couple of twists that make this iteration of the story quite unique.
5. A Christmas Carol (1971)
IMDb rating: 7.6/10
What it’s about: Ebenezer Scrooge is an old, bitter miser, who hates Christmas, people, and everything in between. However, he is given a chance at redemption after being visited by three apparitions that show him just how bad his ways are. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is one man. On Christmas, he is a completely different person.
Why you should watch it: This is, I believe, the only short movie on this list, lasting only 28 minutes. However, it’s my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol ever, and I watch it at least every other Christmas. The animation is wonderful, and the story is really beautiful (as always). Also, you’ll just love all the voices, including the narrator!
4. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)
IMDb rating: 7.7/10
What it’s about: The Mailman is trying to answer all of the questions about Santa Claus, the first Christmas, and its origins. He tells us the story of Kris, a baby boy left at the doorstep of the Kringle family, who were toymakers.
Kris Kringle grew up and wanted to deliver toys to the children of Slumbertown, but a mean old Burgermeister, as well as the evil wizard called Winter stood in his way. Will Kris manage to deliver the toys to the kids?
Why you should watch it: When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite animated movies. Now, to be honest, the animation feels a bit creepy, but the wonderful voice of the legendary Fred Astaire is just unbeatable! Also, the story will kind of remind you of Netflix’s Klaus, which is, for me, one of the best Christmas movies ever created, especially when it comes to animation.
3. The Gathering (1977)
IMDb rating: 7.8/10
What it’s about: Adam Thornton, a rich, bitter executive, cut ties with his former wife and children years ago. However, after he learns from his doctor that he only has a short time to live due to a terminal illness, he reaches out to his ex-wife and wants to get the family together again for one last Christmas so that he can apologize.
He doesn’t want to tell the kids about his illness, though. He wants them to come out of love, not out of pity. Adam is worried about their response, but the gathering takes place in the end, and the family is reunited.
Why you should watch it: This might be the most depressing film on this list (at least at the beginning). However, it’s a lovely story about love, redemption, forgiveness, and the true meaning of family. Also, there’s a sequel to this film, so things might not be as gloomy in the end as they initially seemed…
2. The House Without A Christmas Tree (1972)
IMDb rating: 8.0/10
What it’s about: Addie is a young girl living with her family in Nebraska in 1946, consisting of her father and grandma. Her mom tragically passed away, leaving her father a bitter, grumpy widower. Addie desperately wants to have a Christmas tree, but her father refuses to allow it due to the family’s tragic history.
Why you should watch it: The House Without a Christmas Tee was a TV movie and is not really that well-known. However, it’s one of the most beautiful, heartwarming Christmas movies I’ve ever watched, and one of the rare movies that actually made me tear up a bit (apart from movies with animals dying, but that’s a whole other thing to unpack).
The film is based on a book by Gail Rock and has won 1 Primetime Emmy. The cast is actually quite lovely for a TV movie in the seventies, and the story is quite familiar but told in an unconventional manner. If you can get this movie somewhere, I highly recommend it – I still have it on VHS!
1. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)
IMDb rating: 8.3/10
What it’s about: John Walton, the father figure of the Walton family, is away for work i another part of the state. He promised to be back home for Christmas but seems to be running late – much, much late.
On Christmas Eve of 1933, the mother and children sit and talk to the younglings of the family about Christmas, but as the father still isn’t home, his eldest son, John Boy, goes out to find him. Will the father return home for Christmas with his family?
Why you should watch it: Finally, the number one spot comfortably belongs to 1971’s The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. It’s a wonderful movie with a beautiful message and a heartwarming resolution that will have you sobbing like a kid and never take your family for granted again.
There’s a reason why this film was nominated for three Primetime Emmys, and although it’s rated PG for mild language, it’s nothing for today’s standards, and I highly recommend it for a nice family evening with the kids – they will absolutely learn a lot from it.