We love cheese. No matter how much sex, violence, swearing, and goat shaving we get from modern movies, there's always a place in our hearts for good old-fashioned hokiness. A lot of these movies are ones that we loved as children. It never really bothered us that George was trying to kill himself in It's a Wonderful Life, or that Nazis chased nuns in The Sound of Music - everybody smiled and sang. Read about our five favorite feel-good flicks, kiss a puppy, and give your grandma a hug . . . it's time for some schmaltz.


You could set your watch to it. From the day after Thanksgiving until well after New Year's Day, It's a Wonderful Life will always be on TV at any hour of the day. It's practically more Christmas-y than Santa Claus. However, what most people don't realize is that it wasn't a huge hit when first released. Much like The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life was a box office dud but found its legs during the early 70s on television. The rest is inexorable tradition.

This feel-good schmaltz-fest is clearly the offspring of two men (Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart) who were anxious to exorcise nightmares of the recent atrocities in World War II and instead celebrate the positive side of humanity. Together, director Capra and star Stewart crafted a paean to common decency, replete with women who deliver their lines breathlessly and men who speak with vaguely British accents. The story recounts George Bailey's struggle with, and eventual triumph over, the difficulties of resurrecting his family's Savings & Loan in his hometown. Of course, there's the requisite evil banker and drunken angel. Whoa, what? Yes, a drunken angel. The angel reminds the suicidal Bailey of all the good things that he has done for his town and reinvigorates him with a will to live. We could all do with such a drunken reminder at Christmas.

This movie has evolved into far more than just another parents' film; it is a bona fide American tradition. Just be sure to avoid the colorized version (unless you like your movie townfolk to have bright orange glowing skin . . .)


  • Nominated for 5 Academy Awards (including Best Picture, Director, and Actor) . . . it lost all 5
  • Sesame Street's Ernie and Bert were supposedly named after the Taxi Driver (Ernie) and the Cop (Bert)
  • Placed #11 on the American Film Institute's "100 Greatest Movies" List