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This black and white short made almost 60 years ago is one sweet
surprise to anyone who happens upon it. Turner classic movies airs this
from time to time during the holidays and even though I saw it by
accident last Christmas I'm so thankful I had the idea to tape it "just
in case" it was a keeper. It takes place on Christmas eve long ago as
three cowboys happen to show up at a small place where others also are
wanting a place to stay for the night. Most are bitter and full of
complaints until something happens to bring these people together on
this freezing Christmas eve. A poor young couple wander in and are in
obvious discomfort as the young woman is close to having a child. The
people earlier so full of scorn and complaints all learn the true
meaning of Christmas when they come together giving the couple the
things they need so that this new little baby can safely be born.
It will make your heart swell and bring a tear or two to your eyes as you experience this sweet tale.
This short, which won an Academy Award, is a modern day variant on the Nativity, complete with a Scrooge, wonderfully done by J. Carroll Naish. This short was a marvelous vehicle for this veteran character actor and he shines in the spotlight. This short runs on Turner Classic Movies between films, with Christmas Eve and Day as natural opportunities to catch this at least once. It's a longish short, but most definitely worth the time and effort to catch. Most recommended.
This is touching vintage short that usually appears between movies on TCM during the Christmas season. Now you can get it with the new DVD release of "Christmas In Connecticut" with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. It's included as a short on the DVD. Now I don't have to try and catch it with my TiVo this holiday season. "Star" is a wonderful Christmas featurette and is highly recommended. Will really get you into the Christmas spirit, guaranteed! The mysterious hitchhiker, Donald Woods, is really interesting. He seems to be guiding each individual through a process of recognizing the real spirit of Christmas. You may remember him from "True Grit" and many other movies. He made no less than 5 features and this featurette in 1945 (although his scenes in "God Is My Co-Pilot" were left on the cutting-room floor).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I caught this on Turner Classic Movies and taped most of it in 2001, then on Christmas Day 2002 I was lucky enough to get the whole thing on tape. A wonderfully written and acted treat, especially by J. Carrol Naish as Nick, the motel owner who learns that there is good in people after all. Some might find this short a little corny, but when Nick sees all of his formerly complaining renters come to the aid of the woman about to have a baby it's actually very moving. When the short is ending on a last show of generosity (which I had listed earlier but am now deleting so as not to ruin it for people) there isn't a dry eye in my house. It's a shame that this isn't better known; it's a classic.
Star in the Night (1945)
**** (out of 4)
Brilliant updating of The Nativity Story has a small diner owner (J. Carrol Naish), a bitter man, opening his doors to a wide range of people on Christmas Eve. Included in this group are a hitchhiker (Donald Woods), a couple expecting a baby and three cowboys. Even though this film only runs 21-minutes I still think it's one of the best of the decade. The film won an Oscar for Best Short but it also marks the directorial debut of Don Siegel who would go onto direct several Clint Eastwood films. The movie tells a story we're all familiar with but it takes it to the next level with its warm characters and strong message. There's a mysterious undertone to the hitchhiker character that really reminds me of something we'd see decades later in The Twilight Zone. The future TV shows had the same feelings that are present in this film, which of course was made years later. Another strong thing are the performances with Naish leading the way. Naish was always a fine character actor but his performance here is chilling and might be the best I've ever seen from him. The same with Woods who brings so much life to his character even though he says very little. This film is flawless from start to finish so it's a real shame more people don't know it but thankfully Turner Classic Movies show it each year around the holiday.
I also saw this movie on TCM and found it to be quite touching..I had
listened years earlier to a Hallmark Playhouse Radio Drama from
12-16-1948 on Cassette called "The Desert Shall Rejoice". XM Satellite
radio just played this same program recently and I was struck by the
similarities between it and "Star In The Night"
Main Characters-Nick, Rosa. Though J. Carroll Naish wasn't as bitter as Nick played by John Hodiak in the Radio Drama..
Jose, Maria..Baby born..
Problems with a lighted star.
3 cowboys show up with gifts..don't know what to do with them.
Main differences..man in the film was Nick's conscience throughout..In the radio play "Dusty" Robbed Nick but later gave the money back..
There were several other customers in the "Auto Court" as portrayed in the film..
Summary:Both told the story well, though It was obvious that the Radio Drama was adapted from the film script..
The birth of Christ juxtaposed with story about a crowded inn out West, wherein a man and his pregnant wife come to get a room on December 24th, only to find lodging in the barn out back. Three Christmas-shopping cowboys stand in for the Three Wise Men, and there's a mysterious hitchhiker who comes in for a cup of coffee, observing everyone with a sympathetic eye. Academy Award-winning short subject from Warner Bros. probably wouldn't be so well-remembered if it weren't for its Oscar win, as well as for the direction by a young Don Siegel. J. Carrol Naish heads the cast as the inn-keeper, laying on the stingy Italian act with a butterknife ("Peece an'a brutherhood ees'a juss'a bunch'a baloney!"). Yet, as a do-gooder piece, this gets the job done in an efficient 25 minutes, and it's tough not to be moved by that tender final shot. Lushly orchestrated (by the incomparable William Lava) and nicely photographed. Worth-seeing.
J. CARROL NAISH gives his standard Italian accent a real workout in
this story about a bitter man fed up with Christmas, attracting patrons
to his hotel/diner by putting a big electric star outside. Some of his
crusty customers gradually change their ways when a woman named Maria
and a man called Jose arrive seeking shelter. There's no room at the
inn so Naish gives them shelter in the barn.
Meanwhile, watching all of this unfold, is a humble traveler, DONALD WOODS, who gives the most sincere performance of all as a man who urges Naish to accept the Christmas message of good will toward men.
When, at midnight, a baby is born to the young woman, everyone pitches in to do what they can for the young couple. Even three stragglers, symbolizing the Three Wise Men, are eager to offer gifts.
Simplistic fable is a bit obvious by today's standards, the kind of sentimental tale that only a Frank Capra could really pull off, but Don Siegel does a good job of getting believable performances from Naish and Woods, especially.
Won an Oscar for the year's Best Short Subject.
We bought "Christmas in Connecticut" just for this short subject. I saw it many years ago and when I found out that it was on the "Christmas in Connecticut" DVD, I ran out and purchased it. My family and I make watching this film a part of our family tradition. The movie is short so everyone, even the little ones will enjoy this film. It is a modern day telling of the Nativity with a few added touches. We pass the Kleenex around after the end of this film. This is a beautiful heartfelt story. By the way, "Christmas in Connecticut" is a fine film as well. This one of my favorite Barbara Stanwyck films. Just make sure to watch "Star in the Night" after the film. We cheat and watch "Star in the Night" first. Don't miss this one.
We were getting ready to leave our traditional family Christmas Eve
2009 gathering, when this short film aired. My aunt and I started to
watch it as everyone was getting their coats. We were glued to the
movie as my cousins kept asking my aunt to get ready. When it was over
my aunt said this really "made" her Christmas.
This short film captures the true meaning of Christmas." Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace, good will toward men!" as the angels declared.
I really enjoy when I find classic movies like this one. Seems many of the script writers,directors and producers in this era were extremely talented at expressing the simple values of life on the screen.
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