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The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966)
"Il Natale che quasi non fu" (original title)

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Sam Whipple, an attorney in once-upon-a-time-land, is startled to receive a visit from Santa Claus shortly before Christmas. It seems that when he was a child, Sam wrote a letter thanking ... See full summary »



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Title: The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966)

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Cast overview:
Paul Tripp ...
Sam Whipple
Lydia Brazzi ...
Mrs. Claus (as Lidia Brazzi)
Alberto Rabagliati ...
Sonny Fox ...
Mr. Prim
Jonathan, the Elf Foreman
John Karlsen ...
Valentino Macchi
Salvatore Furnari ...
Antonio De Martino ...
Gaetano Guacci ...
Adriano Cornelli ...
Franco Doria ...
Elf (as Francesco Doria)
Arnaldo Fabrizio ...
Elf (as Fabrizio Arnaldo)
Domenico Imperato ...
Elf (as Imperato Domenico)
Phineas T. Prune


Sam Whipple, an attorney in once-upon-a-time-land, is startled to receive a visit from Santa Claus shortly before Christmas. It seems that when he was a child, Sam wrote a letter thanking Santa for the presents he'd received, and offering to return the favor someday. That day is now - a mean old soul named Phineas Prune, who holds the deed to the North Pole, is demanding back rent. Otherwise, he's going to evict Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves and take all the Christmas toys. It's up to Sam and Santa to find a way to pay off Prune and prevent Christmas from being canceled. Written by Eugene Kim <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A more wonderful...more magical...more musical entertainment than this - there just isn't!


Family | Fantasy


G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 November 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't  »

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Did You Know?


Although most of the actors mouthed the script in English (the movie was shot with no live sound), in the American version all of the Italian actors, except for Rossano Brazzi, had their voices dubbed by someone else, so that their accents would not show up. Brazzi, who appeared in many American films, including South Pacific (1958), is the only Italian in the film who is heard speaking English with an accent. See more »


Sam Whipple: Wait a minute! If you are Santa, what are you doing here? You're early!
Santa Claus: Christmas is not coming this year.
See more »


Featured in A Hollywood Christmas (1996) See more »


The Christmas That Almost Wasn't
Written by Ray Carter
Performed by Glenn Yarbrough
See more »

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User Reviews

The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966) **1/2
31 December 2008 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I'm considering this Italian film as a "first viewing," but this may have been one of the very first movies I ever saw in a theater when I was 4, I can't recall exactly. I know I definitely remember as a child seeing a rather grim TV commercial for it where a sad and solemn Santa Claus says: "Christmas isn't coming this year", and it stuck with me ever since. I've been meaning to track it down for years and I finally did, better late than never.

When I was a kid there was a fun TV show called "Birthday House", and its host was Paul Tripp. Well, Tripp wrote the screenplay for this film and stars in it as a good-spirited and kindly man who gets a visit from Santa Claus himself (Alberto Rabagliati) one year. Poor Santa's heartbroken because his mean landlord up at the North Pole (Rossano Brazzi - who also directed) is a tightwad who wants his back rent by Christmas Eve, otherwise Santa will get evicted and have to cancel Christmas. Since Santa doesn't have the money, he and Tripp get jobs to try and raise the cash (since Paul Tripp's profession in the film is a lawyer I don't understand that, but whatever). But it's also up to the kids to help Santa out for a change, as old St. Nick gets back some generosity himself this time.

This movie's got a pretty unflattering reputation. First off, it plays a little strange (well, to U.S. audiences, I mean) because this is an Italian production with sometimes plastic-looking effects, and dubbed into English. There are also pot shots taken against the actors, but I thought the cast was pretty well chosen... Paul Tripp makes for a really likable leading do-gooder, and Rabagliati as Santa Claus looks the part. Yet it's director Brazzi who steals the show as a really villainous ogre who hates Christmas and despises all children (we eventually learn why, in an ending that's actually pretty touching). This isn't a good film, but I found it had enough holiday spirit to probably merit repeat viewings every year. It's also a musical, meaning there a quite a few songs, only a couple of which are somewhat memorable. **1/2 out of ****

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