Even the biggest Scrooge would have to admit that New York City has a certain charm at Christmastime. Our recent post on the subject showed how, every year, Manhattan is transformed into a winter wonderland. This obviously makes it the ideal setting for a movie set around the festive season and so we thought we’d take a look at some of the most memorable films which take place in this famous location.
While this is no definitive list – and there is certainly a case to be made for other New York Christmas movies – it does contain a variety of titles that remind people that New York is a magical and exciting city to be in around Christmastime.
This modern day Christmas tale has fast become a festive favourite, with the fish-out-of-water story of Will Ferrell’s Buddy – and his journey to track down his birth father in New York – highlighting the delights and quirks of city life at this time of the year.
There are some great scenes in and around the city in Elf, with the action taking place in such famous landmarks as the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center and Central Park – plus the fictional Gimbel toy store (on the corner of 5th Avenue and East 30th Street).
Home Alone 2 (1992)
In the sequel to Home Alone, Kevin McCallister swaps the suburbs for the city. This time, he accidentally gets separated from his family by boarding a plane to New York instead of Florida – where he faces his old enemies, the Wet Bandits (who have escaped from prison and are now attempting to steal from a toy store).
Again, plenty of famous New York locations feature in this Christmas film. You’ll be able to spot the Rockefeller Center, the Plaza Hotel and Central Park as young Kevin makes the city his playground.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
This movie featured in our piece on the strong connection between New York and the movies. While many people associate this rom-com with the fall, who could forget the two leads (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) trudging along the snow-covered streets of the Upper West Side carrying a Christmas tree?
Standing the test of time, this take on Dickens’ Christmas Carol story is still shown during the holiday season year after year. With Bill Murray’s Frank Cross, it certainly takes a lot for him to appreciate the Christmas spirit – even in such a setting as New York. By the end, his sarcastic character becomes almost likeable.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
The original version of this film is a perennial Christmas favourite that is sure to melt the hearts of even those who are most sceptical about Santa Claus – and indeed New York. The movie is well-known for the trial of Kris Kringle, who has to prove to the courts that he is the real Santa and not someone who is delusional. With iconic scenes set in Central Park West, Macy’s and the city’s County Supreme Court, the character of New York certainly plays a big role in this Christmas classic.
Finally, we get to the film that was mentioned in our previous article on the best toy stores in New York. People can’t help but associating this body-swap movie with the giant floor piano, which can still be found – and played on – at FAO Schwarz. The “Chopsticks” duet between Josh (played by Tom Hanks) and the store owner, Mr MacMillan, is one of the most memorable moments in cinema history.