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24 Classic Movies to Watch on TCM in December 2021

During the holidays many of us revisit beloved classic films. Here are 24 movies, many with a Christmas theme, that are airing on Turner Classic Movies in December 2021.

There’s something about the holidays that brings up a wish to revisit beloved classic films; beloved films can bring us comfort and hope. Here are 24 movies we think you’ll enjoy, many of them with a Christmas theme, that are airing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this month.

Casablanca poster

1 of 24 Casablanca (1942)

Wednesday, December 1, at 10 p.m. ET

Ingrid Bergman is TCM’s Star of the Month for December and starting at 8 p.m. ET today, they’re showing her movies, including some of her early Swedish films, for 24 hours straight. Few films hold up to repeated viewings as well as Casablanca, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains all deliver iconic performances, and Dooley Wilson’s rendition of As Time Goes By will pull at your heartstrings. Casablanca is as close to perfect as Hollywood movies get.

Woman of the Year poster

2 of 24 Woman of the Year (1942)

Thursday, December 2, at 9:30 p.m. ET

In this, her first cinematic pairing with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn plays political columnist Tess to Tracy’s sportswriter Sam. They at first don’t like each other very much, but they eventually fall in love and get married. But Tess is such a prominent public figure that her busy schedule puts a strain on their relationship. Can the marriage be saved?

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Meet Me in St. Louis poster

3 of 24 Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Saturday, December 4, at 3:30 p.m. ET

This family favorite is a nostalgic look at a year in the life of the Smiths, a Midwestern family living in St. Louis just after the turn of the century. The scenes that take place at Christmastime account for just a small portion of the film, but they’re so moving and memorable that this beloved picture has come to be associated with the holiday season. This is the film that introduced the beloved, if bittersweet, Christmas song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which Judy Garland performs beautifully. Mary Astor and Margaret O’Brien costar. Also airs on December 21st at 8 p.m. and December 24 at 6 p.m.

It Happened on 5th Avenue poster

4 of 24 It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)

Saturday, December 4, at 5:45 p.m. ET

In this delightful comedy set during the Christmas season, Victor Moore plays an amiable man, down on his luck, who moves into a Fifth Avenue mansion while the well-to-do family that owns the mansion is wintering in Florida. As you might expect, humorous complications ensue. Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles and Gale Storm also star. Also airs on December 23 at 8 p.m. and December 25 at 3:45 p.m. ET.

The Bishop's Wife poster

5 of 24 The Bishop's Wife (1947)

Sunday, December 5, at 6 p.m. ET

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) is so focused on securing the funding to build a new cathedral that he is neglecting his wife, Julia (Loretta Young), and their child. An angel named Dudley (Cary Grant) arrives to guide Henry (who is the only person who knows Dudley is an angel) through his difficulties, but Dudley finds himself falling in love with Julia, which naturally is upsetting to Henry. So we’re left with a very unusual love triangle. How will it resolve itself? You’ll have to watch this holiday classic to find out. Also airs on December 24 at 8 p.m.

Tevya poster

6 of 24 Tevya (1939)

Sunday, December 5, at 10 p.m. ET

Fans of the play (and the film adaptation) Fiddler on the Roof will find this drama of interest. Filmed in New York, it is, like Fiddler, an adaptation of the works of author Sholem Aleichem, only with Yiddish dialogue (subtitled, of course) and no musical numbers. This film is said to be a more accurate adaptation of Aleichem’s story and a more accurate depiction of Ashkenazic Jewish culture.

Johnny Belinda poster

7 of 24 Johnny Belinda (1948)

Monday, December 6, at 6 p.m. ET

In this hard-hitting drama, based on a true story, Jane Wyman plays Belinda McDonald in an Oscar-winning performance as a young deaf-mute woman who lives with her family on a farm on Cape Breton Island, off the east coast of Canada. Her family underestimates their daughter but a doctor (Lew Ayres), newly arrived in the area, takes on the role of her tutor and she begins to blossom. Scandal arises, though, when she is attacked by a local fisherman and impregnated. Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead costar as Belinda’s parents.

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The Shop Around the Corner corner

8 of 24 The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Tuesday, December 7, at 8 p.m. ET

This romantic comedy stands as one of director Ernst Lubitsch’s finest achievements. James Stewart plays Alfred Kralik, a retail clerk who is so devoted to his work that he hasn’t time for a social life. He does have a pen pal, though, a woman he’s never met in person, who provides a spark of romance in his life. Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) is a new employee who grates on Alfred’s nerves and seems the polar opposite of his delightful penpal. Even if you have already guessed the twist that brings this picture to comedic (and romantic) life, you’ll be delighted as you watch this classic romantic comedy unfold. Be sure to point out Frank Morgan, the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, to the kids; he plays Alfred and Klara’s boss. Also airs late December 21 at midnight and December 24 at 2 p.m.

The Adventures of Robin Hood poster

9 of 24 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Friday, December 10, at 1:30 p.m. ET

There have been many movies about the legendary bandit king of Sherwood Forest and there will no doubt be many more, but this beloved adaptation, nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains and Alan Hale, Sr., remains the favorite of classic movie buffs everywhere.

West Side Story poster

10 of 24 West Side Story (1961)

Friday, December 10, at 8 p.m. ET

If you’re looking forward to Steven Spielberg’s new version of this classic musical, which is in theatres today, you may want to check out the original 1961 film. Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this musical follows two lovers from rival street gangs in New York City. A gripping story of forbidden love, West Side Story has a dazzling array of songs and dance sequences. Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymar, Russ Tamblyn and Rita Moreno star.

A Christmas Carol  poster

11 of 24 A Christmas Carol (1938)

Saturday, December 11, at 12 p.m. ET

There are have been many adaptations of Charles Dicken’s classic Christmas story, but this is one of our favorites. Reginald Owen portrays Ebenezer Scrooge while Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart (parents of actress and former Guideposts staffer June Lockhart) portray Bob and Emily Cratchit. Also airs December 21 at 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

3 Godfathers poster

12 of 24 3 Godfathers (1949)

Saturday, December 11, at 2 p.m. ET

In director John Ford’s classic western, three outlaws (John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey, Jr.) suddenly find themselves the guardians of a newborn infant, after promising the child’s dying mother they would take care of the child. Also airs on Christmas Eve at 7:45 a.m.

This was the fourth remake of this story, which was filmed twice during the silent era, as The Three Godfathers (1916) and Marked Men (1919), and twice as talkies—1929’s Hell’s Heroes (which airs on TCM at 6 a.m. on December 21), and 1936’s Three Godfathers (which airs on TCM at 7:30 a.m. on December 21).

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The Man Who Came to Dinner poster

13 of 24 The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

Saturday, December 11, at 6 p.m. ET

In this classic comedy, set at Christmastime, a bitter and sarcastic critic (Monty Woolley) injures his hip and imposes himself on a small-town Midwestern family. Ann Sheridan, Bette Davis and Jimmy Durante costar. A bit of trivia: Wooley’s and Durante’s characters are based on real-life acerbic critic Alexander Woollcott and Harpo Marx, who were close friends. Also airs on December 20 at 9 a.m. and December 23 at 10:15 p.m.

Lady on a Train poster

14 of 24 Lady on a Train (1945)

Saturday, December 11, at 8 p.m. ET

One doesn’t usually associate crime pictures and films noir with Christmas, but this story of a young woman (Deanna Durbin) who witnesses a murder from a train and enlists a mystery writer (Ralph Bellamy) to help her solve the crime is set during the holidays. Also airs on December 20 at 6 p.m.

Christmas in Connecticut poster

15 of 24 Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Sunday, December 12, at 4:15 p.m. ET

In this classic Christmas comedy, Barbara Stanwyck plays a homemaking columnist (think Martha Stewart circa 1945) who in actuality can’t boil water. She finds herself forced to host a war hero for the holidays as a publicity stunt and must scramble to hide her shortcomings as a homemaker. Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall costar. Also airs on December 22 at 8 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 4 p.m.

Remember the Night poster

16 of 24 Remember the Night (1940)

Sunday, December 12, at 6:15 p.m. ET

This lesser-known film has become a favorite among Christmas movie aficionados, though it might not be of much interest to (or appropriate for) younger kids. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, written by Preston Sturges and ably directed by Mitchell Liesen, Remember the Night is a celebration of the love, encouragement and acceptance a family can provide. Also airs on Christmas Eve at 11:30 p.m.

North by Northwest poster

17 of 24 North by Northwest (1959)

Monday, December 13, at 10 p.m. ET

This classic adventure tells the tale of an advertising man (Cary Grant) who finds himself in seriously hot water when he is mistaken for a spy. Alfred Hitchcock directs, so of course there’s a beautiful blonde (Eva Marie Saint) on hand, and if you watch closely, you just might spot a cameo appearance by an issue of Guideposts magazine. (Don’t blink!)

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Holiday Affair poster

18 of 24 Holiday Affair (1949)

Saturday, December 18, at 6:15 p.m. ET

In this romantic comedy set during the holidays, a young widow (Janet Leigh) must choose between nice, safe but boring businessman (Wendell Corey) and a romantic hunk with a bit less ambition but plenty of appeal (Robert Mitchum). Also airs on December 22 at 10 p.m. and Christmas Eve at 12:15 p.m.

Penny Serenade poster

19 of 24 Penny Serenade (1941)

Wednesday, December 22, at 11:45 a.m. ET

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant star as a star-crossed young married couple who experience trials, tribulations and heartbreak as they strive to start a family and build a life together. Have a box of tissues handy (maybe two). Grant was nominated for Best Actor for his work in this film.

Little Women poster

20 of 24 Little Women (1933)

Saturday, December 25, at 9:30 a.m. ET

Like Meet Me in St. Louis, Little Women may not, strictly speaking, be a Christmas movie, but the holidays play a role in the film and it’s a terrific family picture, something that’s always welcome this time of year. There have been many film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel, but for many, this one, which stars Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas, Frances Dee, Jean Parker and Edna May Oliver is the gold standard.

To Sir, with Love poster

21 of 24 To Sir, with Love (1967)

Sunday, December 26, at 6 p.m. ET

Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, an engineer who takes a temporary teaching job while seeking a position in his field. His students are a rowdy, undisciplined bunch, many of whom come from troubled families. Thackeray sets out to uplift and enrich his students’ lives, teaching them the value of mutual respect, acceptance and hard work. Lulu’s recording of the film’s theme song was a big hit and is one of the film’s highlights.

Trouble in Paradise poster

22 of 24 Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Tuesday, December 28, at 8 p.m. ET

In this classic Ernst Lubitsch comedy, Kay Francis plays a perfume magnate who is being conned—or is she?—by a gentleman thief (Herbert Marshall) and a pickpocket (Miriam Hopkins). Charles Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton and C. Aubrey Smith costar.

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It Happened One Night poster

23 of 24 It Happened One Night (1934)

Wednesday, December 29, at 4 p.m. ET

This classic romantic comedy from Frank Capra—truly one of the all-time classics of the genre—is as fresh and funny (and yes, romantic) as it was the day it debuted nearly 90 years ago. Clark Gable plays a newspaperman on the trail of a runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert). This classic film won five Oscars—Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay—every one of them richly deserved.

The Thin Man poster

24 of 24 The Thin Man (1934)

Friday, December 31 at 8 p.m. ET

TCM continues its annual New Year’s Eve tradition of airing all six Thin Man pictures back to back. What better way way to wind down 2021 than to spend the day with Nick and Nora Charles (ably portrayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy) and their adorable pooch, Asta? The original film is followed by the other entries in this popular series: After the Thin Man (1936) at 9:45 p.m., Another Thin Man (1939) at 11:45 p.m., Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) at 1:45 a.m., The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) at 3:30 a.m. and Song of the Thin Man (1947) at 5:15 a.m.

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