When the festive season rolls around there are plenty of Crimbo flicks to choose from but once those sleigh bells stop jingling and ring-ting-tingling it’s tough to sit through another one. If you’re too stuffed to pull yourself off the sofa you can always settle down with a good old seven-hour movie epic, y’know, those old films your dad would watch on Christmas Day, thus depriving you of your dose of Ray D’Arcy, Dustin, Zig, Zag, Zuppy and Podge the evil Santa kidnapping postman. Or how about chiling with the kids with a classic that takes you back a few years? Ah lads, it wouldn’t be the same without ’em so here, in no particular order, are Ten Classics to catch over the Christmas…
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
You’ll have to sit still for: Two hours and ten minutes. This one’s more of a classic than an epic but it’s one of those movies they say you can’t miss.
55 years since an angel first helped a businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed, It’s A Wonderful Life is still considered an all time Christmas classic. James Stewart is George Bailey, a man who has spent his entire life giving to the people of Bedford Falls. On Christmas Eve he faces ruin and thinks about ending it all because he’s convinced his wife and family will be better off without him. Everyone says a prayer for him and before you know it, he’s joined by an angel named Clarence who sets out to remind him that It’s A Wonderful Life.
2. Lawrence of Arabia
You’ll be staring at the sand for: Anywhere up to 4 hours, depending on which cut you’re watching!
In many a house it’s often said that it wouldn’t be Christmas without Lawrence of Arabia. The historical epic takes us right back to World War I and shows the Allies’ mideastern campaign through the eyes of T.E Lawrence, a British Army Officer. Peter O’Toole took on the title role and earned himself a place in cinema history. Lawrence takes us back to Cairo (with no mummies for a change) and across the sweeping sands. Marvel at the majestic Omar Sharif and check out Alec Obi Wan Kenobi Guinness in one of his most iconic roles. Sit tight folks, this one will have you in for the evening!
3. The Sound of Music
Sing along from the sofa for: Almost three hours. That’s not quite an epic but we’ll forgive and forget and have another gawk at Captain Von Trapp.
How do you solve a problem like Maria? Eh, you cast Julie Andrews, obviously. If you haven’t seen The Sound of Music then sit yourself down on the sofa and head for the hills with the Von Trapp children. Christopher Plummer quite simply smoulders as the charismatic Austrian naval captain (that’s not him singing by the by) and Julie Andrews is delightful as the determined yet still delicate young nun turned nanny. It’s cherished classic that’s something of a staple in sing along cinemas across the world and The Sound of Music is deffo one of our favourite things!
4. Ben Hur
Better get a cushion, you’ll be on your bum for: 224 minutes. That’s a whole lotta history.
Nothing says entertainment like a 9-minute chariot race and it just so happens that Ben Hur has one. Adapted from Lew Wallace‘s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, this epic historical drama takes us right back to Ancient Rome. Charlton Heston stars as the Jewish prince who is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend played by one of Ireland’s own, Stephen Boyd. Ben-Hur regains his freedom and comes back for revenge in this multi-award winning motion picture. Sure if it won 11 Oscars it’s definitely worth catching, right?
Relax and recline on the chaise longue for: anywhere between 3 hours and 5 hours, if you’re into that Director’s Cut business.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton‘s real life romance was just about as spectacular as this three-hour tale of the Queen of the Nile. Cleopatra follows Egypt’s Next Top Monarch through every triumph and tragedy as she tries to resist the imperialist ambitions of Rome and the errr, rather more amorous ones of Mark Antony; pity he was such an asp. Liz’s violet eyes caught the attention of her co-star ala Mr and Mrs Smith and their affair became the stuff of legends. How could you possibly say no?
Sit on your laurels for: a solid 3 hours of swords and slaves.
Kirk Douglas made a name for himself playing the slave who lead a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic. This original is far from the Blood and Sand style antics you’ll catch on your tellybox with big names like Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov featuring prominently. It’s inspired numerous sketches and even The Simpsons paid homage to its most iconic scene. There’s fightin’ and beatin’ and scantily clad men, sure what else could you want on St Stephen’s Day?
7. The Greatest Story Ever Told
Stuff your face with Selection Box choccies for: at least 3 hours. There’s a big enough book to get through after all!
Y’know the way you’re always told that the Christmas is about the love for the baby Jesus that have in your heart? Well, here’s one movie that will take you through the whole tale from the Nativity to the cross. Legendary Swedish actor Max von Sydow (what a name) takes on the role of Jesus in this biblical epic which isn’t for the faint hearted. Keep your eyes peeled for Charlton Heston as John the Baptist and other familiar faces; Martin Landau, Sidney Poitier and Angela Lansbury are among the star-studded cast.
8. Mary Poppins
Let the movie do the entertaining for: just over 2 hours. That’s an age by kids’ standards though.
P.L Travers‘ tale of the magical nanny made for one of the most popular Disney films of all time, even if the author wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it. Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke sing and dance their way through this movie musical, which made stars of them both. There’s something hilariously loveable about David Tomlinson‘s Mr Banks and his children are totally enchanting. Whether they’ve had a spoonful of sugar or six selection boxes, this is one that kids and parents alike will find supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
9. Gone With the Wind
Try to finish a whole box of biscuits in: 4 hours. We may need a tub of ice cream to make it all the way through.
Screen siren Vivien Leigh smoulders in this American classic as the manipulative Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett’s a bit of a bitch but that doesn’t stop her having a bit of a heated love affair with Clark Gable‘s Rhett Butler. Set in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction, Gone With the Wind is definitely one of those movies that could divide opinion in the household. When they reach for the remote and say they don’t want to watch it, there’s only one response; “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Fall into a food coma while the kids are glued to the telly for: 2 hours. That should be enough time to recover right?
Would you believe us if we told you that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was from the same stable as Bond? No? Well, it is. Ian Fleming penned the story that loosely inspired the movie and it was adapted by none other than legendary children’s author Roald Dahl. Dick van Dyke stars as Caractacus Potts, A hapless inventor who finally finds success with a flying car. But it ain’t all sunshine and laughter for himself and the kids because evil dictator Baron Bomburst wants Chitty for himself. He and Grandpa Potts team up with Truly Scrumptious to rescue the kids and the car from his Vulgarian clutches. Chitty’s always a solid family classic!
We know there are plenty of classics that aren’t on the list so of course, we have to have some honourable mentions. If you’ve got a few hours to spare then be sure to sit down and catch one of the following: The Great Escape, Platoon, Casablanca, The Godfather, Once Upon A Time in America, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark… there are so many, we could be here for days in fairness!
Originally published at Entertainment.ie