19. The Bells of St. Mary’s
Release Year: 1945
Directed By: Leo McCarey
Starring: Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers, William Gargan, Ruth Donnelly, Joan Carroll, Martha Sleeper, Rhys Williams, Richard Tyler, Una O’Connor
If you came to this list for Elf and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then you will 100% not be into The Bells of St. Mary’s. But it wouldn’t be a list of the greatest Christmas movies without classics like this. Ask your grandparents about their favorite Christmas films and this one will be in the mix.
The Bells of St. Mary’s stars Old Hollywood star and voice of Christmas Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley, who’s transferred to the inner-city Catholic school St. Mary’s. Before long, he butts heads with the school’s headmistress Sister Mary (Ingrid Bergman) about the future of the failing school. While O’Malley believes the school should close, Mary and the other nuns believe there’s still hope.
Of course, The Bells of St. Mary’s isn’t directly centered on Christmastime, though the film has become associated with the holiday thanks a certain scenes and its December release date. But if you’re not interested in religious stories or even black and white films, this won’t be your cup of tea. And that’s fine. But for those willing to bask in the glory of the old favorites (as problematic as they might be nowadays), there’s no Christmas movie like The Bell’s of St. Mary’s.