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One must wonder why an outstanding production like House Without A Christmas Tree, is never shown during the Christmas holidays. It is one of televisions finest moments starring Jason Robards, Lisa Lucas as "Addie" and Mildred Natwick as Grandma. It takes place in a small town in Nebraska in 1946. Robards plays a father who, without his wife, can not seem to communicate with his daughter. We can only hope that this fine presentation of 1972 is brought back for all of us to enjoy again.
I first became acquainted with this special not through its television airing but through a novelization of story checked out of my school library when I was in the sixth grade. I loved the story and wished to see the tv special, but it seemed to be one of those holiday specials that aired infrequently(if at all)since its 1972 premiere. I finally caught it about 25 years after its first airing(and about fifteen year since I read the book)one Saturday morning during the Christmas season. The story of a precocious ten-year old girl's struggle to persuade her aloof father to give her a Christmas tree and their mutual growth towards understanding each other is quality entertainment that is seldom seen nowdays. Deserves to be a classic.
CBS was known, in the old days, for it's quality adaptations of literature,
be it classic or contemporary. As a child of the 60's and 70's, I remember
all of these with great warmth, but none more than "The House Without a
Christmas Tree" (except possibly for "J.T.", the story of the little boy and
his cat). This is a simply told story, but it shines with an inner light.
Lisa Lucas plays Addie, a 10 year old girl who lives with her widowed father
and his mother in Clear River, Nebraska during the late 40's. Her father is
still terribly torn apart over the death of his wife, so torn apart that he
can't stand to celebrate Christmas and remember how happy he was when she
was alive. To this end, he won't allow a Christmas tree in the house.
Addie is determined that she will have a tree this year, and tries every
minute she can to weedle him into getting one.
There are true emotions in this film; Addie is hurt by her father's seeming indifference to her, and doesn't understand why he won't buy a tree. He can't bring himself to explain, so these two headstrong people continually clash. Addie's grandmother softens what she can, but her son won't listen to her. He is sometimes cruel to his daughter, to hide his own wounded feelings. He and Addie come to a truce of sorts at the end, but it's not a neatly wrapped up conclusion, and it feels just like a real father-daughter relationship. Jason Robards is devastating as the father. His eyes are so expressive; the pain bleeds out of them, and just as conversely the love he truly does feel for Addie also shows in them. Mildred Natwick is just fine as the grandmother. She is the warm, comfy composite of every grandmother who ever lived, but she also adds a bite to the character that is refreshing. The Nebraska setting does just as much to enhance the story.
This was broadcast in 1972 on CBS, and not shown again till Disney picked it up in the very early 80's, along with the other two movies taken from Gail Rock's wonderful reminiscences of growing up in rural Nebraska, "The Thanksgiving Treasure" and "Addie and the King of Hearts". This film is available on VHS tape, and is highly recommended for the whole family. My own children always adored it.
I first saw The House Without A Christmas Tree in 1972 when it aired on CBS. I have always felt that it was the best Christmas story ever filmed. It stars Jason Robards as a father who is bitter after the loss of his wife ten years earlier. He can't seem to communicate with his young daughter Addie played by Lisa Lucas. Her character will touch your heart as this little 10 year old struggles with the fact that her father doesn't seem to love her. Her grandmother is played by, verteran actress, Mildred Natwick and gives an excellent performance. Now available on video. Check it out.
I first watched "A House Without A Christmas Tree" as a 15 year old when it originally aired in 1972. Years later, around the holidays I thought about this TV movie and wondered if it would ever be aired again. I had not seen it in over 35 years! I was happily surprised when I saw it on a late night broadcast. Jason Robards played the role beautifully, and Lisa Lucas plays his impetuous daughter. What ever happen to her? I have not recognized her in any other role. Anyway, this is a hidden gem of a movie. It moves at a steady pace, and has many moments that reminds me of my childhood in a small town.
As the writer of the original autobiographical material for "The House Without a Christmas Tree," I wanted to thank others for their kind remarks. The writer of the teleplay based on my book was the late Eleanor Perry who won an Emmy for her script. The show also won a Peabody Award. I'm told that it will soon be available on DVD. The book is still in print as a paperback at Scholastic Press. Lisa Lucas, (Addie) continued acting through her teenage years, doing guest appearances on TV and appearing in several features. She then studied at the Cordon Bleu in France and opened a French restaurant in New York City.
This is the story of the relationship between a 10 year old girl and her bitter stern father and one special Christmas when they were able to see through each other' eyes. It should be shown every year on TV. We have a copy and my daughter and I watch it once or twice every December. None of the kids are smart mouthed like kids in movies are so often today. They are not too sweet or babyish either.They act like real 10 year old kids. The story moves along at a good pace. The setting of 1940's Nebraska adds to the story. Lisa Lucas as 10 year old Addie was excellent. The supporting characters enhance the story and are very realistic. I especially like the character of the grandmother. This movie will be enjoyed by all ages who like good quality entertainment.
I haven't seen this t v movie for many years, but the fine acting and storyline make it a picture that you would remember always and want to see again and again and I don't know why this hasn't become a Christmas classic.
I first saw this on television when I was in elementary school back in the '70s. I actually found it on VHS video years ago and enjoy watching it regularly. It's an unusual role for Jason Robards, but he's excellent in it. And the actress who plays Addie is certainly homely by today's standards, but very authentic in the role and for the times, which are the 1940's in the Midwest. In fact all the actors and actresses are refreshingly real. If this movie were re-made today (which I hope it never is) it would undoubtedly be filled with "beautiful people." I think that is part of the appeal of this movie. It speaks to another time - not just the '40's, but to the 70's when it wasn't necessary to be Barbie doll perfect to be on television or in the movies. Times have changed, but this movie is a classic.
I have shown this movie to some of my high school students and SOME
felt it was a bit schmaltzy and syrupy. Perhaps some may find it that
way in parts, but I can't recommend this movie enough. I have bought my
family a copy of the movie and I have given several away as Christmas
The acting is superb--especially the gruff Jason Robards and Mildred Dunnock as his mother. Addie, Robards' daughter does a competent job as the child who wonders WHY they don't really celebrate Christmas in their home--why no tree? The answer is slowly revealed in the movie and your attention will be kept throughout. And, because it's so well written and directed, the payoff is well worth the wait.
If you like this film, there were follow-up films with the same cast THE HOLIDAY TREASURE, THE EASTER PROMISE and ADDIE AND THE KING OF HEARTS. Find them, too, if you can.
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