"It’s a Wonderful Life"
There's happy snow and then there's the not-so-happy kind. Frank Capra's 1946 holiday classic has plenty of both. The white stuff coming down as poor George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) ponders suicide on Christmas Eve is pretty dismal. Luckily, Clarence shows up and turns the snowstorm into an occasion for joy. Ring!
Nobody needs it to snow more than retired Major General Tom Waverly (Dean Jagger) in this 1954 holiday classic. With no snow on the ground, bookings are way off at his Vermont country inn. A pair of famous song-and-dance men (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) manage to fill the place on Christmas Eve, but it's the white stuff finally falling that really saves the day.
Snowy, icy, bone-chilling Russian winters are vividly depicted in David Lean's 1965 epic, based on the novel by Boris Pasternak, about a love affair between Doctor Zhivago (Omar Sharif) and Lara Antipova (Julie Christie). But since the book was banned in the Soviet Union, most of "Doctor Zhivago" was filmed in Spain.
"I love you," says Jenny (Ali MacGraw) to Oliver (Ryan O'Neal) for the first time, and the next thing you know they're frolicking ecstatically in the snow, making snow angels and making a snowman together in Arthur Hiller's 1970 romantic drama. You know what happens next. Sad.
"A Christmas Carol"
This 1951 version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" starred the best Ebenezer Scrooge ever to confront his own snow-covered gravestone: the Scottish actor Alastair Sim.
TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is having a really bad day. The snowstorm that he assured Pittsburgh viewers was nothing to worry about has hit western Pennsylvania hard. Then of course there's that whole Groundhog Day thing, Groundhog Day thing, Groundhog Day thing ...
It's right here in the snow-covered hedge maze that Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) meets his frozen end. What's he doing out there in the icy cold? Chasing his son, Danny, with an axe. Danny gets out, Jack doesn't. Stanley Kubrick's take on the Stephen King novel is the best snowy horror flick ever.
Orson Welles' 1941 masterpiece starts with a snow globe falling from the hand of Charles Foster Kane (Welles) as he utters his cryptic last word, "Rosebud." The characters in the film never do find out what the dying newspaper magnate was talking about. But in the end we learn that Rosebud is the sled Kane played with in the snow when he was a boy.
"Meet Me in St. Louis"
Poor little Tootie Smith (Margaret O'Brien) is upset. Even hearing her big sister (Judy Garland) sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" doesn't placate her for long. To protest her family's impending move from St. Louis to New York, Tootie runs out of the house on Christmas Eve and destroys the snowmen she had joyously helped to create. "I'd rather kill them if we can't take them with us," she says in this 1944 musical.
"The Gold Rush"
The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) goes prospecting during the Klondike Gold Rush—and gets caught in a blizzard. This 1925 silent movie offers plenty of snow chases. It also includes Chaplin's classic dinner roll dance.
"Nanook of the North"
No surprise that snow is everywhere in this 1922 documentary about the native people of the Arctic regions. The film remains a classic of the silent era, though some of it was faked. Nanook's "wives" weren't actually his spouses, and in real life he hunted with a gun, not a spear.
Seven months pregnant, Minnesota police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) investigates a quirky case of kidnapping and murder. This Coen brothers classic is dark comedy of errors set in in the frozen tundra of the Midwest.
Tim Burton's 1990 movie about a boy who has scissors for hands has the most thrilling ice sculpting that you'll see on film. It takes place when Edward (Johnny Depp) creates an angel from a huge block of ice while his girlfriend Kim's family puts up Christmas decorations. Kim (Winona Ryder) dances under the ice shavings as they come down like falling snow.
"The Call of the Wild"
OK, so it wasn't much of a movie. In fact, Jack London might have punched out a few people over this 1935 movie version of his 1903 novel about the Alaska gold rush. But we're talking Clark Gable here. And a St. Bernard. And lots and lots of snow. C'mon!
"March of the Penguins"
Each and every year, emperor penguins literally march more than 60 miles in the Antarctic to reach their breeding grounds. A French film crew spent a year documenting this journey and the film was released in 2005. If you haven't seen it yet, now's the time. It's beautiful.
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