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By then, US counter-submarine forces were so effective that the German command considered it almost suicidal to send U-boats into the Atlantic. Because they had broken the German code, the Allies were able to anticipate U-boat movements, and US intelligence knew that a few German subs had been sent across the ocean in in the desperate hope that renewed attacks on American ships could lead to better surrender terms for Germany. But this information was so closely guarded that only generalized warnings were passed to commanders.

Official secrecy was part of the legacy of the disastrous first year of the Battle of the Atlantic when German U-boats sent American merchant vessels — tankers, freighters, barges — to the bottom of the ocean in eight months, and civilians on the coast of Massachusetts watched ships burn in the night. Ignorance of these disasters, abetted by wartime censorship, is so widespread that readers have told Puleo they were shocked to learn about them from his book. One reader told him that as a child living in Scituate during that year he listened to the thud of explosions at night that shook the house.

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His mother said naval gunners were practicing. Harold Glenn jumped off a Portland bus to kiss his wife goodbye before going to the ship; she never saw him again. Breeze and Peterson, in their 80s, drove the seven-hour trip together from upstate New York to Portland. Its hull was split in two and the ship sank quickly following an explosion. Only 13 of its crew survived; 49 were lost. It has been speculated that naval authorities at Portland might have wanted to avoid criticism and embarrassment for having allowed an enemy submarine to operate so close to the mainland at a time when the war was ending and the threat of U-boats had been almost totally dismissed.

This was after German Adm. Karl Doentiz had ordered all U-boats to cease hostilities and surrender to the Allies. The German sub, which was promptly found and destroyed by an American hunter-killer task force, was the last U-boat to sink both a U. They agreed that there had been no boiler explosion; some had even briefly seen the attacking U-boat on the surface. Lawton approached the U. He got the runaround at first, but pressure from various sources eventually persuaded the Navy to recant its findings about an internal explosion. Three decades ago my friend, the late Horace G. So I believed there was at least a core of truth to the statement.

Forty-nine Eagle crewmen were killed and 13 rescued from the icy waters. It took Paul M. Lawton, an attorney whose father served as a World War II infantryman, to unravel what happened. With the help of survivors, historians and politicians, Lawton produced enough evidence to have the findings of the original board of inquiry corrected. He also notes that the U. Indeed, general warnings had been sent to the base commander at Portland. However, because the alert was not specific intelligence did not want to tip its hand concerning the breaking of the code , no special precautions were taken.


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Assigned to the U. Naval Frontier Base Portland, she had just been refitted and was working as a towing vessel for targets. By weaving the lives of sailors and families, German submariners and U. Felix Gygax. Indeed, the latter appointed the court of inquiry and was apparently skeptical of the findings. We are also missing the context of Portland in its years as a major Navy base. As good as the book is in answering what happened, the whys remain elusive. If we accept that this is beyond the scope of this volume, then perhaps what we really need is a comprehensive overview of World War II in the Gulf of Maine.

Portland played major roles in the battle of the Atlantic. Included would be the Todd-Bath shipyards, the Montreal Pipe Line and the actions of the destroyer arms and convoys. One could also look into such incidents as the destruction of U. Navy Blimp K off Mount Desert in In Capt. Alexander W.

It is time that the fog of the second world war was lifted from our waters. In fact, she was a vestige of World War I, when, in June of , President Woodrow Wilson summoned Henry Ford to Washington and asked the mass production expert whether he could convert his auto production lines to shipbuilding. No facilities were available at the Navy yard to build the new craft; thus, Wilson and then Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels asked Ford if he would undertake the task in his Detroit factories.

It was actually a misnomer to call the. The first of the cookie-cutter Eagle boats was launched on July 11, , and six more boats were completed on schedule. But succeeding ships did not follow as rapidly. Winter comes, and Mamie, exhausted, contracts typhoid fever. Robbie takes charge of the household, but several days before Christmas, Mamie calls him to her side and asks him to find good homes for the children. After praising her son for having truly been the man of the house, Mamie dies.

During her funeral, the haughty Mrs. Runyon loudly asks what the villagers are to do with six orphans. Robbie asks that the children be allowed to spend Christmas together before being sent to the state orphanage, and Dr. Delbert consents to the request. This may be too sad for many for Christmas viewing, but for some this is a heartfelt film with family values that gets top billing.

In the winter of at Christmastime, American soldiers led by Will Knott Ethan Hawke are assigned to capture a small squad of German soldiers posted in France's Ardennes forest. Tired of war, the Americans have already lost half their division and discover that their German enemy is equally unwilling to fight. With Jewish soldier Stan Shutzer Arye Gross interpreting, the Germans and Americans agree on a plan that will let the former surrender without violence -- but then, tragedy strikes.

Not suitable for children. At midnight, so the story goes, Allied and German soldiers met in the middle of no man's land to sing carols and toast each other's health. We can see at once that this is a war movie - we know from the costumes it is World War II - but somehow the film is able to suggest some hidden purpose, and we know it will not simply tell a war story. It is Christmas season of , late in the war. Germany has obviously lost. One of the Americans speculates that perhaps the Germans intend to surrender to them.

There are other hints: Christmas carols drifting on the wind. A snowball fight. Eventually it becomes clear that the Germans - as young and inexperienced as the Americans - want to give up the fight. And here the story again stops following the usual war movie lines, and takes its own way. The performances are uniformly excellent as the film moves inexorably towards bloody confrontation and spiritual reckoning. Sensitive, bright and supremely moral Note: The film is a screen adaptation of William Wharton's novel of war remembered as "surreal muddle.

It is Christmas Eve , and the townspeople of Concord, NH are trying to hold onto their holiday spirit in the face of the Great Depression. But old Mr. Benedict Slade Henry Winkler is ruining what hope they have left by mercilessly repossessing their prized goods. Alone in his apartment, Slade is visited by three ghosts--Christmas Past, Present and Future--who take him on a fantastic journey through time that will show him the tragic consequences of his actions if he doesn't mend his ways forever.

Lensed in Canada, this made-for-TV film premiered the week before Christmas of Note: The make-up is bad and the story takes some odd turns but some might find this worth a watch out of interest as another adaptation of A Christmas Carol, and for those who like Winkler. The award-winning cast of "Road to Avonlea" returns for this touching King Family reunion.

As they prepare for their traditional Christmas dinner, their gathering is marred by the news that one of their youngest members, Felix, is missing in action on the battlefields of Europe. To make matters worse, the indomitable Hetty King collapses with an unexpected health emergency. An Avonlea Christmas is an uplifting drama that reinforces the power of family love in times of crisis. Hetty King, always ready and willing to do her part for king and country, is planning a Christmas concert with the schoolchildren to raise funds for the war effort.

Janet King however, whose son Felix King is away fighting in the trenches, would prefer to forget about the war altogether. An Avonlea Christmas was filmed a couple of years after the Road to Avonlea sets had been taken down which made it necessary to find a way of recreating Avonlea. Portions of the interiors of Rose Cottage and the King house were rebuilt from scratch. From the producers of Anne of Green Gables.

And the Edwardian era, family-friendly Anne of Green Gables features a Christmas ball to which Anne wears the famed blue puffy sleeved dress and plenty of festive snow and a sleigh ride: "Megan Follows, Tony Award winner Colleen Dewhurst and Academy Award nominee Richard Farnsworth give unparalleled performances in the critically acclaimed motion picture based on the internationally best selling novel. Filmed amidst the spectacular scenery of Prince Edward Island, Canada, this Emmy Award winning production follows the provocative life drama of orphan Anne Shirley from her struggles as an adolescent to her triumphs as a young woman.

A delicate epic full of wit, style and emotional power. When an English aristocrat and her Granddaughter, Tilly, visit relatives in Ireland for the Christmas holidays, they find that the family has become impoverished and is looking to try and marry their son, Cameron, to Tilly to save their legacy.

However, what the Grandmother has failed to relay is that Tilly is engaged already. So, it's up to Irish luck to help Tilly fall in love with Cameron. It's December , and we pick up on the adventures of Mathilda "Tilly" Bassett and her rich grandmother Isabella, having toured some of Europe's cultural centers and are now arriving in Dublin for a month-long stay. Tilly's inner struggle is between being a society woman in-the-making and the Yankee farm girl that are her roots. Isabella's mission is to expose Tilly to the world of letters; that's why she's bringing her to Dublin, to meet Ireland's poet laureate, the Earl of Shannon.

But there's a saying throughout Ireland: "If you want to make God laugh, try making plans. An Old Fashioned Christmas is a made-for-cable television movie. Originally aired on the Hallmark Channel, it is a sequel to the Victorian era costume drama An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving with a different actress playing Tilly. Barnaby wants to marry Mary for her inheritance. Soon afterward, they all stumble upon Toyland, where the Toymaker and his assistant Grumio are preparing for Christmas. Walt Disney's packaging of Victor Herbert's indestructible operetta is a glittering color and song and dance-filled bauble artfully designed for the tastes of the sub-teen set.

Unemployed Polly Parrish Ginger Rogers impulsively picks up a baby left at orphanage doors at Christmas. Everyone assumes the foundling is hers, including Polly's playboy ex-boss David Niven , who offers her a job if she'll live up to her maternal duties. A paycheck would be handy, so Polly complies. Then the boss's tycoon dad Charles Coburn assumes the infant is his secret grandson Buoyed by Rogers' irresistibly endearing performance, Bachelor Mother is one of those rarities, a brilliantly cast comedy where everything - plot, pacing and dialogue thanks to Garson Kanin's savvy direction and Norman Krasna's witty script - is exactly, hilariously right.

Set during the Christmas - New Year season.

Charles Coburn is J. Merlin and David Niven is his footloose son David. Ginger is given her pink slip along with the other Christmas help and upon leaving the store comes across an old woman leaving a small baby on the steps of an orphanage. Ginger of course picks the baby up as the door opens and from here on in everyone assumes it's hers! One of the season's gayest shows Miss Rogers is demonstrating again that she is one of the screen's most knowing comediennes. Niven, as her perplexed overseer and baby-feeding adviser; Charles Coburn as the pontifical grandfather by adoption ; Ernest Truex as the man from the foundling home; Frank Albertson as the fellow employe and Ferike Boros as the landlady—all are perfect in their way.

So out of the nowhere, like Polly's baby, a merry comedy has come tripping, all new and brightly shining and full of the most unexpected nonsense. A true classic. I have watched this movie every year around the holidays since I can remember. It is innocent enough for children yet entertaining for adults. Note: This s film was remade as a musical in the Bundle Of Joy : When Bundle of Joy premiered in , Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher were the cutest young marrieds in Hollywood, the obvious choice to headline the musical remake of one of the great comedies of the '30s, Bachelor Mother.

As the Prince Charming of the piece, Fisher proves that as an actor, he is a pretty good crooner. But Reynolds is warmly appealing in the role originated by Ginger Rogers, playing a salesgirl who picks up a foundling, is mistaken for its unwed mother and must keep up the charade - baby and all - to keep her job. A modern-day witch likes her neighbor but despises his fiancee, so she enchants him to love her instead During the Christmas holiday season, Greenwich Village witch Gillian Holroyd Kim Novak , a free spirit with a penchant for going barefoot, has been unlucky in love and restless in life.

She admires from afar her neighbor, publisher Shep Henderson James Stewart , who one day walks into her gallery of African art to use the telephone after Gillian's aunt Elsa Lanchester put a spell on his phone. When she learns he is about to marry an old college enemy of hers, Merle Kittridge, Gillian takes revenge by casting a love spell on Shep, and she eventually falls for him herself.

She must make a choice, as witches who fall in love lose their supernatural powers. Note: This is not a traditional Christmas film, though the movie whited opened on Christmas does feature wintery street scenes of New York and "Jingle Bells" is used to set the Christmas tone of the initial action.

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Both James and Jean seem to hit it off, but the next day the three old men are killed in a plane crash. Now ghosts, the three work from the afterworld to make sure the young couple stays together. A latter-day Christmas Carol, told with tenderness and warmth. Beyond Christmas is a rare holiday treasure.

This is the uplifting story of three elderly gentlemen who become the guardian angels of a kind couple they met at Christmastime. Before proceeding to Heaven, the spirits work behind the scenes to ensure that the couple's love will endure forever. Filled with heart and soul, this charming holiday classic is perfect for the Christmas season -- and beyond. This is a beautifully colorized version of this heartwarming holiday film. Sensitive little drama of three wealthy men sharing Christmas with down-and-out Carlson and Parker, who fall in love. This is one of the most wonderful and unusual movies ever produced by Hollywood.

Three elderly men make friends of a lonely young man and woman who fall in love and become engaged. The three men die drastically in a plane crash, but become spiritual guides for this young couple as ghosts. The young man becomes a success as a singer, and soon lets success get to his head and ignores the girl he was going to marry.

The young man gets shot and dies. The elderly ghost asks God to give the young man a second chance to live, to make amends with his true love, which God grants. As you can tell, this is not a typical Hollywood movie. It deals with heaven, hell, and purgatory without mentioning the words.

It's a very entertaining, sometimes humorous, and moving movie. This movie isn't for everybody, but this movie has a deep spiritual meaning that will touch many. Four children Two horse thieves One amazing adventure! Saddle up and get ready to ride on a daredevil rescue mission that's a holiday delight! For four children in a small outback town, it's the last day of school and the first day of the Christmas season! So when they spy a pair of strangers hiding among the trees, they're too busy dreaming about the presents under their own tree to notice anything suspicious.

But later that night, while the family is asleep, someone steals their father's prized horses.

Thanksgiving Day - 1942

And to make matters worse, Dad's so upset that he decides to cancel the holiday altogether! But there's one thing the thieves didn't count on: these kids aren't about to let anyone steal their Christmas joy! Now with their saddlebags stocked full of hilarious tricks and traps,the amateur detectives head for the hills determined to catch the bad guys, bring back the horses and save the spirit of the season!

Hit the trail for "humor, action and comedy" The Film Daily in this yuletide adventure that'll make every day seem like Christmas! Note: This is an odd kind of film - not very Christmasy at all and it is dated, especially in attitude toward the Aborigines, though the role of the girl is nice in that she makes for a strong and brave leader. It is listed here as there aren't many Australian Christmas period films, and may be of interest to some.

Nicole Kidman's first feature film role was in the remake of the film.

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Bush Christmas also known as Prince and the Great Race is another Australian Christmas drama film but the setting is more modern. Christmas Special : The midwives of London's Nonnatus House deliver more babies and drama during the festive period, in this Christmas special; based on the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth. Christmas is coming and the midwives of Nonnatus House are busier than ever. When an abandoned baby is discovered on the steps of the convent, the whole community rallies around to try and trace the mother.

Meanwhile, Jenny Lee finds herself drawn into the mystery surrounding elderly local woman Mrs. Jenkins and Chummy is determined to stage an unforgettable nativity play. Christmas Special : In Poplar, Christmas is not just about the opening of presents, but also about the closing of deep wounds.

Wartime trials are relived - and a new enemy confronted - before peace and love are restored. Christmas Special : Rehearsals are underway for the Christmas Concert. Chummy is enlisted to help run a poorly managed mother and baby home and succeeds in bringing some festive joy to the residents. Cynthia is drawn into a case concerning two former residents of a mental hospital who have been left to fend for themselves. There is but one question in all of their hearts - what will bring? Christmas Special : Festive cheer is in plentiful supply as Poplar readies itself for Christmas.

But it's a difficult time of year for grieving mother Iris; bringing back memories of her long departed baby daughter. As the community pull together to prepare for the televised carol concert, Nonnatus is rocked when Sister Monica Joan goes missing. Understaffed, underfunded, and with a poor water supply, struggling Hope Clinic is faced with closure.

Can our much loved medics and midwives make a difference to the people whose lives depend upon its work? About the series: Adapted by Heidi Thomas from the best-selling memoirs of Jennifer Worth, this drama series is a moving, funny, colorful look at midwifery and family in s East End London. It follows newly qualified midwife Jenny, who joins an eccentric, lovable community of nuns who are nurses at Nonnatus House. Jenny is surprised to find herself at a convent -- she thought she was being sent to a small private hospital -- and is initially daunted by her surroundings, most notably the formidable Sister Evangelina and the unconventional Sister Monica Joan.

But Jenny gradually begins to find her way and develops incredible friendships among the nurses, as they are drawn into the lives and homes of the women and families they treat. Christmas Downton Abbey is hosting a lavish Christmas party, yet despite being the season of goodwill, tensions are rife and Bates' arrest has cast a shadow over the festivities. Will he be a condemned man or will he be found innocent in time to dance with his new wife at the annual servants' ball? Mary has to consider her future with Sir Richard Carlisle following a contretemps at the shooting party and Violet has concerns about Rosamund, whose new suitor - the dashing but raffish Lord Hepworth - is not all he seems.

The holiday is a mostly happy one—everyone is concerned about incarcerated Mr. Bates, and duly mopey Anna, but not enough to call off the present-giving, the feasting, and the games. Downstairs, games mean popping crackers, wearing paper crowns Vanity Fair. A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.

Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan star in Christmas in Connecticut , a romantic comedy set during the holidays at wartime.

No Return Address: An American POW's Experience in the Philippines and Japan,

Every month she details her domestic triumphs from the idyllic setting of her farm in Connecticut. Touted as the "greatest cook in the country," she seems to have it all - a beautiful home, a happy husband, an adorable baby and of course, plenty of livestock. Elizabeth Lane is a role model to millions of readers who turn to her every month for guidance and inspiration. One such reader is wartime hero, Jefferson Jones, played by Morgan. Lost at sea for many days without food, he dreams of elaborate meals such as those described in Lane's column.

As a promotional stunt for the magazine, the publisher arranges for Jones to spend the holidays at Lane's farm. Sydney Greenstreet, more commonly associated with films noir than light comedies, plays the role of publishing magnate, Alexander Yardley.

Due to Enemy Action

Yardley is so enthused with the idea of a war hero coming "home" for the holidays that he decides to join the festivities on the farm. The only hitch is that there is no actual farm, house, husband, child or livestock, for that matter. All of the material in Lane's monthly column comes from one place - her imagination. And of course, it is this same source that she must draw upon in order to continue the elaborate charade without losing her job. In the s the children living in the Irongates Orphanage devise a plan to make Rose happy on Christmas after she is punished.

In a town not so far away and a time not so long ago, baby Rose was left at Greenwoods Orphanage, where Mrs. But when tragedy strikes Rose Bailee Johnson loses the only home she has ever known and is abruptly shipped to Irongates — a place that seems as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind. The strict headmaster, Mr. Crampton Edward Herrmann , immediately seems to dislike Rose — and makes sure all children are punished for any infractions of his rules.

When she learns that every Christmas Mr. However, on Christmas morning, Rose is devastated when she learns Mr. Crampton is punishing her again. But Christmas is a time of miracles. Share a slice of Christmas sweetened with friendship in this poignant Christmas story based on a classic holiday tale.

A beautiful Christmas film with a timeless message. Lovingly crafted, well-acted, and told with warmth and tenderness. A collection of nine enchanting silent films, A Christmas Past offers a nostalgic peek into the Yuletide pleasures of the early s. Evoking the Victorian charm of Currier and Ives prints, these picturesque comedies and tender dramas were produced as cinematic Christmas cards offered to moviegoers of the silent era.

Included in this collection of archival rarities, most of which were produced at Thomas Edison's studios, are the version of Dicken's immortal A Christmas Carol, a heartwarming melodrama by D. Christmas doesn't come any more old-fashioned than in this inspired collection of vintage holiday films from the silent era. Amidst the melodramas D. The "Santa Claus" combines magical images of Santa's workshop elves with thrilling documentary footage of icy Alaskan landscapes and herds of wild arctic creatures, and the "A Christmas Carol" condenses the Dickens classic into 10 minutes by layering all the ghosts and memories into one brief but visually imaginative scene.

The delightful "A Winter Straw Ride" transforms into a snowball free-for-all to celebrate the giddy antics of adults reverting to childhood innocence. Al Kryszak's new, melancholy score for strings and harp is often lovely but out of place amidst the cheer and holiday celebration of the films. Note: These are not period dramas in the way we think of them now, but these silent Christmas themed short films that were originally made by the Edison Company between and and the earlier ones were among the first Christmas dramas. This Finnish-language period fantasy dubbed in English tells the story of the altruistic giver St.

Nicholas, the man who became Santa Claus in myth and legend - and whose life, shown here childhood on, radiates with messages of selflessness and friendship. Many years ago, in Lapland, a boy named Nikolas is orphaned when his family are killed in an accident. The heads of the families in the village meet to decide his future and, as life in the arctic is difficult, it is decided that as no one family could care for him permanently, they would raise him communally, with each family taking him for one year and then moving him on to the next.

Grateful, Nikolas begins whittling toys out of wood as a gift which, each Christmas, he leaves for the family that cared for him. It becomes a tradition from then, with Nikolas never forgets the children of those families that received him each year. When a blight hits the village, and none of the families can afford to take him in for the next year, he is taken in by grumpy hermit Iisakki as his carpenter's apprentice.

Iisakki works him hard but Nikolas is clever and quick to learn, and Iisakki gradually grows to love Nikolas as his own son. Nikolas begins to live more and more for the spirit of Christmas with each passing year and it becomes his life and as he grows old he becomes the figure known as Santa Claus. Filmed in Levi and Utsjoki, Laplan. A heartwarming family film concerning the exploits of two French nuns who come to America, setting up operations in a local stable, in order to raise money for a children's hospital.

A Christmastime TV perennial, Come to the Stable is the gentle saga of two French nuns Celeste Holm with accent, Loretta Young without who come to America in hopes of raising funds for a children's hospital. Travelling to a small New England town presciently named Bethlehem, the nuns befriend eccentric painter Elsa Lanchester, who allows them to use her studio actually a stable for their base of operations. Utterly ingenuous when it comes to American mores and customs they tear up a parking ticket, assuming it to be an advertisement , the sisters raise money in a variety of amusing fashions.

One of their "agents" is outwardly tough gambler Thomas Gomez, who gives them the land they need and a cash contribution, to the astonishment of his equally raffish pals who also kick in. And towards the end, the nuns even play a little professional tennis to raise money. Careful not to overwhelm the viewer with sentiment and religiosity, Come to the Stable based on a story by Clare Booth Luce is ideal holiday film fare. Part 1 of Return to Cranford begins in August, Part 2 begins in October and closes on a snowy Christmas when the ladies of Cranford celebrate with games, songs, and heart-warming stories.

Change is racing towards the small, close-knit village of Cranford like a steam train — quite literally. As the railroad continues to encroach at the edge of town, Cranford strives to open to new realities, from surprising romances to unexpected losses and even waltzing! Forrester Julia McKenzie and Mrs. Jamieson Barbara Flynn are back with other distinguished residents of Cranford, along with one well-outfitted and mischievous cow.

When a shocking event seemingly derails Cranford from its innocence, can a bit of magic and faith in enduring friendships save the day? The two-part saga Return to Cranford opens to a struggling Cranford, a traditional English village that in autumn is airing the conflicts that accompany progress. Miss Matty Jenkyns Judi Dench , after having closed her business in the last series, is happily babysitting the child of her maid, Martha Claudie Blakley. This gives the ladies in town something to gossip about, as does every other small event in this chatty group.

In Part One, Peggy, visiting her dead father's grave, bumps into William Baxton Tom Hiddleston , a young and dapper gentleman who becomes a central character in Cranford's growing divide between those who want a railroad coming through town and those who don't. While politics are sorted, scenes alternate between heated public debates and intimate domestic exchanges to make Return to Cranford as charming as the first incarnations of this historical drama. The emphasis on the ways the women in town navigate thorny social situations remains primary in Return to Cranford.

Babies are born and the elderly pass away while the ladies busily decide what to make of it all. While Part One focuses on catch-up, showing where each crone stands on the latest current events, Part Twoattempts more to challenge outmoded cultural values such as elitism andto show how the community members toughen up to become a courageous bunch. Unfortunately, Miss Matty discovers that solidarity is hard to come by in this small village, and Part Two is as much about a town falling apart as it is about ways to heal sore feelings and a violated landscape. Ultimately, life marches on in this pleasurably fictionalized glimpse into England's past.

It is very much a holiday pudding Note: Episode Three of Cranford, set in also has some Christmas scenes. Breaking free of the overbearing influence of her mother Penelope Wilton , Queen Victoria gradually comes into her own as a ruler. Falling for her first cousin, Albert Jonathan Firth , Victoria marries the handsome prince, but he struggles with his lack of authority.

Eventually, Albert is given more duties, which only helps Victoria's decades-long reign. Set within the fictional realms of Charles Dickens' novels, Dickensian brings together some of literature's most iconic characters, including Scrooge, Fagin and Miss Havisham, as their lives intertwine in 19th century London. Learn more here. Complete with spirited bonus features, this exhilarating and touching Disney classic is destined to be part of your holiday tradition, adding sparkle and heart to all your Christmases yet to come.

Fans of Robert Zemeckis's brilliant special effects, and of Jim Carrey's transformative acting abilities, will be swept away by their collaboration in the stunning A Christmas Carol. Perhaps more surprising is that Charles Dickens purists will also be impressed and captivated by this version of the oft-told tale--which is dark, complex, and in its way, uncompromising.

Which is all to say that this Christmas Carol is an instant holiday classic, easily taking its place alongside the Alistair Sim version, the Patrick Stewart version, and even the Mr. Magoo version of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his ultimate holiday redemption. Carrey is dazzling as not only Scrooge, the most miserable, and miserly, man in 19th-century England, but as the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. As with The Polar Express, Zemeckis animates the film over the actors' physical performances onscreen, but here, the emotion is intact--even heightened by the brilliant effects.

The emotional connection Carrey makes with his characters is what brings Dickens's classic alive--and what connects the viewer with the true spirit of the holidays. Parents need to know that, unlike The Polar Express, this Robert Zemeckis adaptation of a classic holiday tale is too intense both visually and in content for families with very young children. At its heart, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, and not only are the many spirits very creepy at times, but the 3-D technology makes certain scenes -- as when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come's red-eyed black stallions jump out at the audience -- all the scarier.

And the realistic nature of the motion capture technology often makes the movie seem more like live action and thus more intense than animation. But on the other hand, the language is mild British slang like "bugger" and "blast" and the drinking limited to Christmas toasts. And the messages are all quite positive, as Ebenezer Scrooge's Jim Carrey transformation is one of literature's ultimate stories of redemption and hope, even in the bleakest of times.

Although Jane Austen's Emma has been adapted for the screen many times before, including for an American version starring Gwyneth Paltrow, this four-part miniseries is the version to begin with. The story of Miss Woodhouse, a matchmaker and meddler whose wit and misdirection need to be carefully acted to match the novel's complex character, is perfectly expressed through Romola Garai's portrayal. Throughout the retelling of this comedic romantic drama, Garai not only conveys Emma's strong-willed sensibility but also manages to update Emma for modern audiences without relinquishing the traditional manners and tastes that Austen fans love in her historical tale.

Each episode, here, opens with a seasonal shot of Hartfield, the estate Emma rules while caring for her loyal and kind but protective father Michael Gambon.