Christmas page

Oops. It’s not always what you think.

People are passionate about Christmas movies. I always suspected as much based on conversations I heard about holiday shows.

So when I casually mentioned in the Daily News newsroom that I was thinking about doing my next photo page on favorite Christmas movies, I wasn’t surprised several people wanted to know how I would decide it.

It seemed the fairest way was to ask staff members to rate their top movies. And almost immediately, I was asked by Kathryn Harris if I also was going to ask whether people thought “Die Hard” — the terrorist/hostage movie starring Bruce Willis that happened to be set at Christmas time — was a Christmas movie.

“What? Of course it’s not a Christmas movie,” I told her.

While Kathryn agreed with me, I shared my conversation with Dennis Meyer. Much to my surprise, I apparently was wrong.

He even called it his favorite Christmas movie. He threatened not to help me design this page if we didn’t consider it a Christmas movie.

Hmmm.

Maybe I was onto something. So I asked a few people casually if they thought “Die Hard” was a Christmas movie. It was almost evenly divided.

So what else did I learn?

If you ask people to rate their top three Christmas movies, most people will respect each other’s choices.

But if you want to get people fired up, ask them if “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.

Some people feel so strongly that they use mild profanities in their answers. Let’s just say those who did so were the ones who consider it a Christmas movie and don’t seem to see it any other way.

Among those who don’t think it is, Harris offered the best comments.

“No. 1. You can't contain Lt. John McClane to one season. 2. If you classify ‘Die Hard’ as a Christmas movie, then you also have to classify ‘The Conjuring 2’ and ‘Gremlins’ as Christmas movies, too,” Harris said.

Touché.

Nevertheless, the “Die Hard” intense interest might be a newsroom thing. I suspect Grace Petersen might be more reflective of those outside of the newsroom when she said, “Die Hard: I'd have to care to care, and well, I don't care.”

So what were some of people’s thoughts about “Elf” — the movie that was at the top of most lists?

Most people like how light hearted and clever it is.

As Tim Pearson said, “Will Ferrell in an elf's suit. You had me at Will Ferrell.”

Next most popular was my favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For many people who listed it, they grew up watching it. (Maybe they wrote that because they were trying to hide a small tear.)

I could probably fill up an Insight section about what I like about this movie, but the bottom line is that it gets across the profound point that everyone matters. And the point is made in a simple way.

Third place among our newsroom was “A Christmas Story.” Most people quoted lines from the movie, including Petersen who likes, “FRA-GIL-E. Must be Italian."

Fourth was “Home Alone.” As Nick Benes said, “The original one — no matter how unrealistic it may be that a 10-year-old (or however old Macaulay Caulkin's character was) could set all of those traps.”

Finally, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” finished fifth, just ahead of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

It is worth noting that several people mentioned they would pick “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in their top three, but they don’t consider it a Christmas movie. It’s more of a “show.”

Others movies finishing with three points or more are: “The Star,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Fred Claus” and “White Christmas.”

Finally, there were several movies that only one person listed in their top three, but possibly the most obscure one came from Petersen, who chose “Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.”

She prefaced it by saying, “This one I promise nobody has ever heard of, ‘Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas.’ It's a Jim Henson movie and one I loved watching every year as a child. Now my kids watch it.”

That’s what it is all about: tradition, family and getting in the mood for the holiday season.

“Attaboy, Clarence!”