Recently, I wrote a column asking readers to help me choose a good Christmas flick for my annual grilled-cheese-and tomato-soup holiday movie night.

I’ve learned several things in the weeks since that column was published – some not-so-surprising (people really love Christmas movies), and some sort of surprising (“Die Hard” is apparently considered by many to be a holiday film classic).

The e-mails poured in, day after day. I collected more than 100 e-mails naming about 60 different movies, ranging from well-known Christmas classics to obscure made-for-TV specials starring Marie Osmond.

I also learned that people are quite passionate about their favorite Christmas movies, which are woven into their personal memories and filled with meaning – even if they aren’t filled with much plot, story line or quality acting.

My friends and I actually took the reader advice and watched the most-often named movie – 1954’s “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.

Though it wasn’t exactly what I expected (and not all that Christmasy, really) I loved the singing and dancing and minuscule waistlines on the “Sisters.”

My 3 1/2-year-old daughter, who was in bed but could hear the songs wafting up the stairs, begged to come down and watch, and she was mesmerized. Maybe “White Christmas” will become to her what “It’s a Wonderful Life” is to me.

Following are the top 10 Christmas movies most often mentioned by Wichita e-mailers.

1. “White Christmas,” 1954: The musical movie about two partners, two sisters and a not-so-snowy Vermont Inn received by far the most mentions.

Mary Walsh said she and her husband have to watch “White Christmas” every year.

“My husband always says it’s not really Christmas until Bing sings ‘White Christmas,”‘ Walsh said. “During Christmas of 1984, my husband and I were dating, and my best friend was dating his roommate. We surprised the guys by popping out of a giant Christmas box on their front porch and doing the ‘Sisters’ number from ‘White Christmas’ – a fun, if not somewhat embarrassing memory.”

2. “The Bishop’s Wife,” 1947, starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young: I’ve never seen the second-highest vote-getter, a film about an Episcopal bishop so wrapped up in his job that he neglects his family – until a handsome angel points out the error of his ways.

“It’s a very heartwarming story, which deals with an issue that is real and current – remembering what is really important in life and making sure that you don’t forget to make time for the ones you love,” said fan Juliann Mathews.

Several people also mentioned the 1996 remake, “The Preacher’s Wife,” starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

3. “Christmas Vacation,” 1989, starring Chevy Chase: This movie has always seemed a bit too, um, rambunctious for our holiday gathering. But after reading all the passionate e-mails about it, I’m not sure why I’ve resisted. The movie, I was reminded by several readers, is hilarious – and quite quotable.

Sandi Duff and her family have a long-standing tradition of watching the film on Thanksgiving evening.

“We all know the movie by heart and during the course of the day you can hear lines from the movie being repeated,” she said. “We even nicknamed my brother-in-law ‘Sparky.”‘

4. “A Christmas Carol”: Many readers could agree they love watching the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge unfold, but they couldn’t agree on the best version of the often remade Christmas classic. Most said they preferred the George C. Scott version, which was a 1984 made-for-TV movie.

5. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 1946, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed: I’m convinced this movie would have gotten many more votes if I hadn’t already extolled all its Christmas virtues in my initial column. Readers who voted for it tended to provide a long list of their favorite scenes, including the discovery of Zuzu’s petals, George and Mary singing outside their future house, and the final scene where George realizes Clarence has earned his wings.

“I think ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is one of the best films ever made,” said Mona Hill.


6. “Christmas in Connecticut,” 1945, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan:

Not only have I not seen this much-mentioned movie, I’d never even heard of it. But it sounds perfect for me. A journalist – one of the nation’s most famous food writers – is living a lie. She’s portrayed herself as a hardworking farm woman, mother and top-rate cook. But in reality, she’s a single New Yorker who can’t make toast. When the owner of her magazine decides a sailor should spend Christmas on her farm, she knows she’s in trouble.

And I know I have to see this movie.

7. “Holiday Inn,” 1942, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire: The plot sounds eerily similar to “White Christmas” – vaudeville partners, small-waisted starlets, rustic New England house. And Bing Crosby! Still, many readers said the movie topped their list.

8. “Scrooged,” 1988, starring Bill Murray: Readers were enthusiastic about the modern-day retelling of “A Christmas Carol” starring funnyman Bill Murray.

“If you don’t laugh in this one, you must be a very hard person to buy Christmas gifts for,” said Bill Winger.

9. “The Santa Clause,” There have been three “Santa Clause” movies since 1994, and readers love each one equally. The only thing they love more is the goofy star, Tim Allen.

10. “The Polar Express,” 2004: Gina Pogue and her girlfriends have the same tradition of gathering to watch a Christmas movie, and they recently were surprised to learn they loved “The Polar Express,” an animated flick about a magical Christmas steam train.

“Despite it being a children’s film, it has great animation and that heart tug we all love from Christmas shows,” she said.”

Other movies with multiple mentions:

“Love Actually,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Prancer,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Shop Around the Corner,” “Home Alone,” “Die Hard,” “Little Women,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Holiday Affair.”

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