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
It may be reasonable to assume that the writer chose "Amendola" as actor Jimmy Durante's family's last name given the movie's subject matter. When the Amendola's felt blessed by money from what they thought was from heaven, indeed, the play on words "Amen Dollar," fits perfectly. See more »
Sweet, Charming film for Jimmy Durante and George Pal fans
"The Great Ruppert" (renamed "The Christmas Promise") was made in the late 1940s. It is one of the few movies that Jimmy Durante ever appeared in where he was the main star (his work with Buster Keaton was as a comedy team; some later musicals like "Jumbo" give him leading parts, but not the starring role).
Durante and Queenie Smith are the Amendolas. They rent an apartment from Frank Orth (Mr. Dingle), a tightwad who hoards his money in the wall of his bedroom. The plot is how a talented dancing squirrel named Rupert (the squirrel, who likes cigarettes too, is the creation of George Pal - and is very cute). Rupert's master, Jimmy Conlin (best recalled from the Preston Sturgis movies) has released the squirrel for a few weeks until they get rehired by the circus. Rupert finds a hole in the wall between the Amendolas apartment and Dingle's bedroom.
Once a week Orth puts $1,500.00 into the hole (from a check from his gold mine stock). The squirrel drops it on Durante and his wife. Orth has refused to assist anyone of his neighbors, but he is a harsh landlord. Durante uses the money to help the neighborhood businesses thrive.
The story takes place around Christmas (so it is being shown right now)and has some traces of Scrooge in Orth's skinflint (except he is married and has a son). But it has a pleasant, goofy sweetness due to Durante and Rupert. When a fire breaks out at one point, for instance, Durante reminds the family to save the radio or they'll miss the Jimmy Durante show. While perhaps a trifle dated, it is amusing and worth watching at this holiday season.
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