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Candace Cameron Bure,
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
When Rosalinda is telling Pete about her shoes being too small, a shadow of the boom microphone can be seen to drop down and move around on the brick wall to the right of the door behind her. See more »
When a slightly miserly landlord takes to hiding his savings he inadvertently intrudes into a squirrel's nest--which wastes no time in shoving the money out of his nest and into the hands of the down-on-their-luck Amendola family, who rent an apartment below. Originally released under the title of THE GREAT RUPERT, in 1950 the film was primarily admired for its then-artful blend of live action and puppet animation to create Rupert, the squirrel; today, however, it is best regarded as a very mild mannered and entirely inoffensive little movie that just happens to offer the legendary Jimmy Durante one of his final film roles.
The script and story are as memorable as school cafeteria banana pudding, but the performances are reasonably engaging. As head of Amendola family, Durante is brash is only Durante could be, doing doubletakes and pounding out an occasional tune on the piano in his unique style. He is well supported by the likes of Terry Moore, Tom Drake, and such veteran character actors as Queenie Smith, Frank Orth, Sara Haden, and Jimmy Conlin. It's all in good fun.
The 20th Century Fox DVD release consists of two versions of the film: the original black and white and a colorized version. There is nothing visually impressive about the film, so it is not hurt by colorization per se; as for the colorization, it is reasonably well done, at least so far as such effects go. Most astonishingly, the release includes a commentary track by Terry Moore and various people associated with the colorization and the DVD release.
The commentary track is not tremendously informative; Moore freely admits that she had seen the film only once before, and that some fifteen years earlier. Even so, Moore proves good company, offers the occasional insight into the cast, and now and then proves unwittingly amusing--with her comments on actor Tom Drake, who was both gay and deeply closeted, a case in point. On the whole, I'd say the commentary is actually more engaging than the film itself, but whatever the case Durante fans, Moore fans, and those in search of truly innocent family fare should find it pleasing.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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