7 Classic Holiday Movies

By: Jacquelyn Mitchard for readersdigest.com

We're movie people, my family. When time is no object, we can watch three films a day and consider these hours well-spent. Without these favorites, many with music, the season wouldn't be complete. So dear are they to our hearts that we quote from them year-round. Share them with your family - and don't forget the quotes.

Find out Reader's Digest's Top 10 Christmas Movies

1. 'Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol' (1962) - The first-ever animated Christmas special sounds like a mini-Broadway musical because it actually is: The next year, Jule Styne and Bob Merrill would write a little show called 'Funny Girl.' My brother wasn't even around when this debuted. I was knee-high. But we've watched it together for nearly 50 years, the past 25 with our children. Favorite quote: "Knowing we're together, heart in hand, we'll have a Christmas far more glorious than grand."

2. 'Love, Actually' (2003) - This British romantic comedy is everything anyone could want in either genre (despite one silly/raunchy "cover the kids' eyes" scene). Eight couples negotiate love to what is perhaps the best soundtrack in modern movies, including 'Glasgow Love Theme' and what Sir Paul McCartney called the best pop song ever written: The Beach Boys' 'God Only Knows.' Our quote: Hapless novelist Colin Firth learns that the Portugese housekeeper he loves has studied English while they were apart. He asks why. Aurelia replies, "Just in cases."

3. 'The Bell's of St. Mary's (1945) - You don't have to be Catholic or even religious to adore the regal Ingrid Bergman as stern, loving Sister Bernadette sparring with Bing Crosby in this sequel to 'Going My Way.' Funny note: The corporate Grinch in this movie, played by veteran British actor Henry Travers, would later be Clarence, the angel who would save George Bailey in 'It's a Wonderful Life." Best quote: "The six senses: To see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to feel, to be."

4. 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946) -- What can I say? Frank Capra's classic starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is actually a dark movie: A good man, his reputation ruined, tries to take his life on Christmas Eve, then learns how the world would have been if he'd never existed. Best moment: I can't even think about Harry Bailey proposing a toast to his older brother, George, "the richest man in town," without a lump in my throat.

5. 'The Apartment' (1960) - This Oscar winner was risqué for its time: Corporate wannabe Jack Lemmon, forced to lend his apartment to higher-ups who cheat on their wives, falls for his boss' mistress, button-cute Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Never has the redemptive quality of love been better portrayed, to the Adolph Deutsch's enthralling theme. Best line: 'That's how it crumbles, cookie-wise." By the way, my pal Johnny Seven, a prolific character actor now ailing in his 80s, did a star turn as Karl, Miss Kubelik's outraged brother-in-law.

6. 'Meet Me in St. Louis' (1944) - Although four seasons are portrayed in Vincente Minelli's romantic musical comedy about the 1904 World's Fair, what we remember is Margaret O'Brien's tear-stained face as Judy Garland sings, 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.' Best quote, from the original, now rarely sung: "Come next year, we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow." Judy Garland was just 21 years old.

7. 'Little Women' (1949) - It's everything: The young Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O'Brien, Mary Astor - and for me, the story of a young woman who, because she was born a writer, never quite fit in. The March family's decision to bring their Christmas brunch to a starving family is the essence of giving. Best line: Jo says, "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." But of course, it's just that.

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the New York Times bestselling author of 18 books for adults, teens and children -- including the first selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, 'The Deep End of the Ocean,' named in 2007 one of the most influential novels of the past 25 years. Visit Jacquelyn on the web at www.jackiemitchard.com

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