A Christmas Wish is a heartwarming holiday classic about a New York family (led by Durante) who is down on their luck at Christmas time. Shortly before Christmas, they move into a ground floor apartment where Rupert the squirrel lives in the attic rafters. Just when it seems that the holiday will come and go without so much as a Christmas tree, Rupert acts as the family's guardian angel, not only saving Christmas, but changing their lives forever. The film is enlivened with the warmth and sweetness of an unforgettable love story between Terry Moore (of Mighty Joe Young) and Tom Drake (of Meet Me in St. Louis). Rupert the Squirrel (created using George Pal's Academy Award winning animation technique) will charm young and old alike. Jimmy Durante shines when he sings Jingle Bells and other well-loved Christmas carols in the evocative voice that made him one of America's recording legends. Written by
Although released to DVD by Image a couple of years ago, Fox has reissued the film to DVD just in time for the 2003 holiday season...under a new title, A CHRISTMAS WISH. While a nice marketing move for the Christmas season, it is a little misleading, since the last half of the film is not holiday-oriented. Otherwise, a decent DVD offering the film in both original B&W, as well as a colorized version, all on the same DVD. (The colorized version also offers us a chance to hear co-star Terry Moore talk about the film on an optional soundtrack. While we hear about the tricks used with the live-action squirrels during production, little mention is made of the stop-motion technique in several key sequences with the title character of Rupert the Dancing Squirrel.) While the colorization process is not quite as good as that of, say, Disney's ZORRO or Laurel & Hardy's MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS, it is better than many other attempts to "improve upon" black and white imagery. There are a couple of spots where the colorization process slips, however. Watch, in the soda shop, as one customer tells the clerk to "Cut me in on 40% of the winnings." The red Christmas stocking in the background suddenly reverts back to its original black and white image by the end of the line. Still, this overlooked fantasy--producer George Pal's first feature--may finally find a more mainstream audience, courtesy of Fox Home Video.
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