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One night in December of 1971,I was just a young child of 7 years , enjoying the hope and antisipation of the upcomming Christmas holiday. I was just looking through the channels of my TV set and ran across this movie that had been on for maybe 40 minites or so. just as I tuned in, John Boy had just recked the family truck looking for his Daddy. I continuded watching this show while more and more becomming curiously intersted in this family from the 30s who seemed to be so poor but in turn so very rich in love and closeness of a strong and courageous group of relitives. After the airing of "The Homecomming" that night, I was filled with a feeling of goodness and respect of family that today is almost non exsistant in television. To tell the truth, I think it may never come to that type of programing ever again. I had no idea of what I just witnessed in the beginning program of what would become the best , most highly respected family show to date. This is a TRUE classic, timeless and ever lasting and if you are like me , I know that values shuch as the ones that The Waltons taught us for 10 years after that Dec. night, should make a comback and make it fast!!What happened? can you tell me? Ill tell you all this ,to this day , I still find myself messing around with my kids at night saying, goodnight John boy, goodnight Mary Ellen (although their names are not John Boy nor Mary Ellen) but still I wait for the reply that I heard so many Thursday nights in the 70s at 900pm which is truly music to my ears.... goodnight Daddy!
I was so glad to see that this is out on DVD. It looks great, I'm glad Paramount spent some time restoring it to its present condition. This truly is a modern day classic. I was enthralled with this when it ran on television for the very first time, and its lost none of its appeal for me 34 years later. The entire story exudes reality for me and you actually care about this family. Patricia Neal is wonderful as Olivia. It's too bad she didn't go on to do the television show. She added a touch of reality but also she conveyed a true sense of having seen hardship in her own life that conveys to the screen. If you've never seen this movie, and you're longing for Christmases gone by, treat yourself and either rent or buy the DVD. This is a big step above "The Walton's."
As others have said, it is so great to have this wonderful, timeless
classic Holiday film out on DVD. A few years ago, I bought the VHS tape
and found the following year ( I wanted a back-up copy ) that the tape
was not available. There is no doubt in my mind that The Homecoming is
the "sleeper" of all time in its genre.
Sadly, films of this quality - the location shooting, the caliber of actors & actresses, the true story line - make this one of the greatest Christmas films ever made. I saw it the night ( Thanksgiving night, I believe ) it premiered in 1971. Even though I was only 14 at the time, it has embedded itself in my memory because of the true heartbreak, and joy, people of those years and circumstances endured, and enjoyed. I never really liked The Waltons TV show after the first year or two because of all the ( mildly ) social engineering plots CBS came up with. The biggest mystery on Earth ( to me ) is why CBS - or other networks - don't show this annually every Holiday Season; it's message truly is timeless. Also, a reunion of the surviving actors ( as a prelude to the showing ) would also be great.
This movie deserves the 5-Star PLUS! rating. Thanks again, Paramount and CBS for its release on DVD.
My family watches this film every Holiday Season without fail. I think the "catch" for our children is the bickering Walton children. The scene in the barn when they are cracking walnuts and talking about not growing up or the youngest saying she is not going to have babies but "puppies" when she grows up is precious. The oldest Mary Ellen calling one of the others a "piss ant" is one of our favorite scenes. The only scene that has always caused us some concern is the Missionary Lady's gift that is broken and the way the children leave it lying on the road. The story is so deep, at so many levels and introduces all the Walton Mountain characters so well, it is not surprising the TV show had such a long run...
I saw this as a kid and still feel I need to see it every Christmas. I
group it with "A Christmas Carol", "The Grinch", "A Charlie Brown
Christmas" and "It's A Wonderful Life" as Christmas movie essentials.
The acting is superbly done by seasoned pros and brilliant newcomers who give added depth to a well crafted script that tells the true story of a depression-era poor Baptist rural Virginia family awaiting its father to return home Christmas Eve. The story is simple and the movie never strays from its central theme, adding plenty of character developing touches that most folks can relate to. The Waltons are a real Baptist family dealing with the issues of the day, such as the economic meltdown of the '30s and bootlegging, and the timeless problems of family harmony, love, adolescence, pride, privacy, values, vocation choice and parental expectation.
The beautiful mountain scenery adds to the Christmas spirit that contrasts with the meager living the townspeople endure year after year. The Christmas tree, sleigh ride and church scenes are all treated with the respect that this humble family deserves and should warm even the coldest heart without getting overly sentimental. Plenty of Bible references to remind the viewer what Christmas is all about.
Cheers: Fine acting all around. Realistic portrayals. Wonderful scenery. A Currier and Ives looks without the empty sentimentality. Less Santa and more Jesus.
Caveats: May bore very young children.
My Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars!
I have good memories of seeing this on TV many years ago, and I'm happy to read reports of a DVD. I believe this to be the pilot for The Waltons, either by design or by accident. This is a more realistic portrayal of the Great Depression that is usually shown. It was cleaned up considerably when the TV series was produced. Patricia Neal's character is a woman who knows hardship. Her face registers much pain, and even though she was/is a beautiful woman, that careworn look shows through. Her husband (wonderful Andrew Duggan who only shows up at the very end) is away looking for work, which was fairly typical of the 1930's. And she has too many kids, and they're all living with grandma & grandpa. They will have to accept charity from clueless missionary ladies at Christmas. These people are POOR! Nice to see Edgar Bergen in a rare, late career, character role as Grandpa (not Will Geer). All of the writing shows more edge than the series, even carrying over to the children. I guess that TV children can't get mixed up with moonshiners. It is, perhaps, unfair to compare this to the television series. They clearly are two different animals. Think M*A*S*H, and you'll know what I mean. This should be an annual holiday movie.
I was only six years old when I first saw "The Homecoming: A Christmas
Story" in December 1971. This is a heartwarming Christmas story of a
family waiting for the arrival of their patriarch, John Walton, during
the early years of the Great Depression.
The values upon which this nation was built are alive and well in this movie and the highly successful CBS series that followed. While the Waltons are not financially wealthy, they have an abundance of love in their home and community.
Richard Thomas' character "John-Boy" is perhaps one of the best known characters in television history. Patricia Neal is excellent as the loving yet strict disciplinarian mother, Olivia Walton. Judy Norton's portrayal of teenager "Mary Ellen" is quite believable; one moment she seems mature and on the verge of womanhood, and the next moment she is whining and bickering with her siblings (typical teen). Ellen Corby is an excellent supporting actress in her role as Grandma.
In my view, "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" is one of the best Christmas movies of all time because it is not about Santa, a snowman, nor an abundance of gifts. On the contrary, the Waltons Christmas movie is about family, love, discipline, friendship, responsibility, and the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, the reason for the season.
I've had this movie in my Christmas movie VHS/DVD collection since the early 1990s. "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" is in the same category as "It's a Wonderful Life", and I highly recommend this film.
"The Homecoming" is steeped more in nostalgia and familial love and
faith rather than empty sentiment. It also contains a very strong
Christian message, which stems from the beliefs of its characters, not
out of some ham-handed political agenda on the part of its producers.
It's essential for the children to see that there are people like Charlie Sneed (The Robin Hood Bandit) or the Missionary Lady in the world; people who in some way corrupt the meaning of Christmas, in order to realize the blessings they have. Hawthorne, the minister, is flawed, too, of course; he's not exactly doing the Lord's work by making whiskey runs for the old lady bootleggers. But, as he says, you can't feed your kids on faith.
Patricia Neal is the real treasure in this story. She was only 45; a reasonable age for a woman whose 7 children's ages span ten years. In 1965, when she was 39, Neal suffered a near-fatal stroke which left her temporarily paralyzed. She had to learn to talk over again. She had made a screen comeback in 1968 in "The Subject Was Roses," but this film was her *real* homecoming.
This depiction of Hamner's nostalgic story glows thanks to veteran actors and careful evocation of the Depression era in the hills of Virginia. Avoiding excessive sweetness it recalls the struggle of a "common" Amercan family of the period. Patricia Neal, though she may seem somewhat too old for the part, rewards with a gripping performance as always. The ending may seem rather pat but along the way there are many delights. It would be a cold heart indeed that would not warm at least a little to this story.
The Waltons was a TV series that was a great part of my life. Every week in my English classes I had a composition to write that was due on Friday. So, I would always copy my final draft on Thursday night while "John Boy" did his writing. A young cousin even asked if I was going to be a writer like John-Boy. I still remember the commercial with Richard Thomas explaining how the movie, The Homecoming, was so popular that CBS decided to create a series, The Waltons. The series was perfect for all time as it teaches some history lessons from the Great Depression to World War II. But that's just the beginning. There are cultural lessons such as how a young people should act when on a date, wedding traditions, and the fact that a woman's place was in the home except for nursing, teaching, and perhaps some secretarial positions. Today I share this series with my daughter as much as I can. She has since lost her grandparents and has adopted "Grandpa and Grandma Walton" as her grandparents. That is quite a tribute I think.
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