Scrooge (1935, dir. Henry Edwards)

A miser is haunted by a series of ghosts, so he may rethink his approach to Christmas and life. A charming adaptation of the oft-filmed Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, capturing a famous stage portrayal. Some lovely model effects and a keen visual sensibility; a touch of expressionism and a feel for the period on display here.

Scrooged (1988, dir. Richard Donner)

A mean TV executive is visited by a series of ghosts intent on teaching him the true meaning of Christmas. A raucous, overlong, and often unfunny retelling of A Christmas Carol, overly keen to cash in on its star’s links to Ghostbusters. Inevitably, some bits work nevertheless, and the film’s become something of a Yuletide perennial despite its weaknesses.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation [AKA National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday] (1989, dir. Jeremiah Chechik)

The Griswolds invite their extended family for Christmas, triggering an escalating comedy of errors. The best of the Vacation movies, this balances slapstick and subversion, with enough dark moments to give the movie substance.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946, dir. Frank Capra)

A suicidal man is shown there’s hope by an angel-in-training. Peerless Christmas fantasy riffing on A Christmas Carol. Just about note-perfect throughout.

A Christmas Carol (1984, dir. Clive Donner)

A ruthless businessman is reminded of the meaning of Christmas by a series of ghosts. Sturdy version of the Dickens classic anchored by an unusual central performance – Scrooge somewhat more sympathetic than usual – and by a solid cast of familiar faces.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, dir. Clay Kaytis)

After setting a trap to catch Santa, two squabbling siblings have to help him save Christmas. Patchy Yuletide offering with few surprises. Russell does what he can with an indifferent script, but this is no classic.

Elf (2003, dir. Jon Favreau)

One of Santas’s elves discovers he’s human; he journeys to New York to find his father. Generally solid Christmas comedy which keeps its single joke going for a good hour before a plot is hastily bundled in (the usual “save Christmas” one).