In the run-up to Christmas we're looking at the best seasonal movies decade by decade.

Some of these Christmas movies you'll know well while others you may not have seen or heard of. In either case, we'll be giving you tons of suggestions for what to watch over the coming weeks.

We kick things off with the decades of the 1940s and 1950s...


'It's a Wonderful Life'

There was no way we weren't going to include what is probably the best Christmas movie of all time. The tender tale stars James Stewart as George Bailey, whose selfless deeds vastly improve the lives of those around him. On Christmas Eve, he contemplates suicide when it looks like he's going to become bankrupt. An angel stops George and shows him what his hometown would be like had he never been born. There are quite a few dark moments in the film (not least that suicide plot...) but everything works out. It shows that it's worth being a good person and living a good life.


'Meet Me in St Louis'

Christmas wouldn't be complete without a bit of Judy Garland. 'The Wizard of Oz' is one of many non-Christmas Christmas classics like 'Willy Wonka' which are shown on the telly every year, but since it was released in 1939, we've gone for 'Meet Me in St Louis' in our countdown instead. The movie follows a year in the life of the Smith family as they are faced with the prospect of having to move house. Shot in beautiful technicolour, the musical contains such classics as the joyous 'Trolley Song' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'. For the latter, make sure you've tissues at the ready.


'White Christmas'

The first rendition of Bing Crosby's Christmas classic 'White Christmas' can actually be found in 'Holiday Inn'. Of the two features though, 'White Christmas', tends to be watched more nowadays, probably because it is in colour as opposed to black-and-white, which is more appealing for younger audiences. In any case, it's a delightful musical about a song-and-dance duo who fall in love with a sister double act. The four team up to put on a show to save a failing inn in Vermont. If you're not planning on going away this Christmas, this movie will at least make you feel like you are.


'Miracle on 34th Street'

Before the remake starring Mara Wilson, the 1947 film 'Miracle on 34th Street' stole the hearts of a generation. It has continued to do so for generations since. A kind old man claiming to be Santa Claus is declared insane and institutionalised until a young lawyer defends him in court. Irish actress Maureen O'Hara stars as a no-nonsense events director who fears that Santa will have a bad influence on her young daughter, who she doesn't want to believe in fantasy or nonsense. This film will have you feeling like a child and believing in magic and miracles again.


'A Christmas Carol' (aka 'Scrooge')

We all know the story. On Christmas Eve, three ghosts - representing the past, present and future - visit Ebenezer Scrooge in the hopes that he'll change his miserly ways. It is a story that has been brought to screens big and small, in live-action, animated, dramatic, and comedic form over the years. However, the 1951 adaptation is widely acknowledged to be the best (though readers are more likely to have grown up with the Muppet edition). Many see Alastair Sim's rendition of Scrooge as the best rendition of the character ever.


Honourable mentions: 'The Shop Around the Corner', 'Holiday Inn', 'Holiday Affair', 'The Holly and the Ivy'