Die Hard (1988)
Yes, this Bruce Willis extravaganza of explosions is considered a Christmas movie. Bruce plays John McClane, the lean, mean fighting version of Santa Claus, delivering justice to the occupants of an office building where Hans Gruber (played to the hilt by Alan Rickman) and his bad-to-the-bone followers are doing a major Scrooge act at the office holiday fete.
However, instead of putting coal in their stockings, Bruce dispatches them with machine guns and explosives while wearing a bloodstained wife beater.
Because nothing says Christmas like saving your ex from the evil clutches of madmen with foreign accents. Think office parties are dull? Not this one—it’s a real blowout.
The Thin Man (1934)
Now, here’s an interesting example of a distinctly nontraditional holiday film. This movie is an adaptation of the novel by Dashiell Hammett, a pulp fiction crime writer. In the novel, a retired detective marries into wealth and, while celebrating the holidays in New York City, the two of them drink their way through solving a murder mystery while cavorting with a weird family and odd assortment of lowlifes.
The film is just like that except played more for laughs with the dapper William Powell as Nick Charles and the inimitable Myrna Loy as his wife Nora. So … it’s less of a hard-boiled mystery and more like a comic murder mystery.
The thing is, the story does take place during the holidays. I guess that (technically) qualifies as a kinda/sorta holiday film.
In any case, it’s great fun to watch—no matter what time of year you choose to do that. Powell and Loy have exquisite chemistry. And you haven’t lived until you see the final dinner scene where the killer is ultimately revealed.
And here’s proof that it’s really a Christmas movie! 🙂
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
If you’re looking for more action and explosions in your Christmas fare, look no further than this film. In it, Geena Davis plays suburban mom Samantha Caine, who’s actually a CIA assassin named Charly Baltimore, except that she has amnesia and doesn’t remember that. So she’s kind of like Jason Bourne with a vagina.
She ends up recovering her memory during the holidays (thus, making it a holiday movie) after hiring Mitch Henessey (played by Samuel L. Jackson) to investigate the mysteries of her past. And after Samantha/Charly kills an attacker in her kitchen, she takes off with Mitch to get to the bottom of things. Which, among the things, involves being tortured, being targeted by her old CIA boss (who also happens to be the father of her child), and struggling with the duality of her existence. (Mom or assassin? Brunette or blonde? Which to choose?)
But, as in any good holiday movie, all’s well that ends well. Plus Geena Davis showed a side you never saw before in this one!