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|Index||23 reviews in total|
Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton, are at the top of their form in
this small, made-for-TV movie from 1977. The supporting cast are all
familiar faces and flesh out the story perfectly.
This film won an Emmy for best special in drama or comedy at the '78 Emmy Awards. The movie has almost a documentary feel to it. The film never sinks under a weight of sentimentality but the emotions are there, just under the surface. You get the feeling that here is a man who loved his family but always thought there would be time to enjoy them, but learns he has weeks to live and this will be his last Christmas.
Desperate to try to rekindle some feelings of love with his four adult children, he turns to his estranged wife and together they try to organize a Christmas reunion but without letting them know their father has a fatal illness.
The children all busy with their own lives in other cities and in one case, another country, struggle with their own emotions about coming back home. This is one of my all time favorite Holiday offerings and my VHS copy is from a broadcast from the 1980's, but the quality is holding up pretty well for all this time. If you can find a copy or see it listed for broadcast, be sure to not miss it.
Sentimental but not sugary-sweet, "The Gathering" is a wonderful
holiday treat. Ed Asner is perfect as the businessman who lost his way
and his family four years earlier to his career. When he finds out he's
dying, he tries to reconcile himself to his four grown children and his
estranged wife. She helps him plan the gathering of the family, and in
the process they tentatively get to know each other again.
Maureen Stapleton so completely lives her role that you wonder if she's been through something like this before in her own life. She is a revelation, and is the rock-hard center the film anchors itself with. Without her it would be half a film. Lawrence Pressman, Gail Strickland, Rebecca Balding and Gregory Harrison are the children who bring their spouses to the ancestral home to celebrate Christmas. They are all capable actors and actresses, and enhance the production immeasurably. The sets are perfect, the music superb, and the snowfall even arrives on time. It doesn't miss a trick, but you don't realize that while you're watching it. Honest emotions and genuine sentiment, along with a great script, make this a holiday film you won't want to miss.
It's available on DVD through Warner Archive as of 2011, which is great news; however, an audio commentary would have been even better news but the Archive doesn't do extras. "The Gathering" is a classic and is now readily available for everyone to enjoy at Christmas.
The Gathering used to be an annual holiday tradition on TV, but I
haven't seen it in 20 years. It's a poignant story of forgiveness and
shows that for many families, Christmas is not a Norman Rockwell
painting. Ed Asner's "Adam" is dying of cancer and wants to make amends
with his ex-wife and estranged adult children. Of course, there's the
tearful happy ending, but the characters go through a lot of emotional
strife to get there.
The Gathering is doubly special for me, since it was shot in Chagrin Falls and Solon, Ohio, my old stomping grounds. When I first moved to Texas and had to spend holidays away from home, seeing this movie with its familiar scenery made me feel less alone.
With all the crappy, sappy Christmas movies out there, it's a shame this holiday gem isn't shown regularly anymore and isn't available on DVD. Judging from all the other comments, I'm not alone.
It must have been around 1982 when I saw this film on British TV. My
recollections are therefore dim of the detail but it moved me very
much. A Christmas setting with sad but also happy moments, it shapes a
family's trials at a time of year that is sadly not always the happiest
for many people.
But do not be put off watching; this is a very good film and makes you think about what happens in families, and what can be made to happen.
Every year I look through the TV listings hoping it will be re-shown. For two years I have been e-mailing the BBC begging them to screen it again. Every month I check the video listings to see if I can buy it. I hope it will come round again.
Shortly after I wrote this several years ago, I managed to get a copy via Marta. Thank you Marta. She now says it's available on DVD via Warner Archive.
I've always been a big fan of Christmas and Christmas movies, but this television offering has to be my all time favorite. I still try to watch it every year on either my (fading) VHS copy or, most recently, on the Hallmark channel. Ed Asner is absolutely perfect as the estranged husband and father hoping for a last minute Christmas reunion with his grown children before he succumbs to an un-named disease. Maureen Stapleton matches him scene for scene as his wife. The children are all excellent as well, particularly Lawrence Pressman as the stubborn eldest son and Gail Strickland (one of Hollywood's most underrated character actresses) as his eldest daughter. Bruce Davison is also very good as Asner's put-upon son-in-law. The sequel is inferior (with two unfortunate cast replacements for the children) and Asner's presence in the second film is sorely missed but worthy of a look if you are a fan of this one. Don't miss the Gathering. It'll make you long for an old-fashioned Christmas reunion--your own gathering, whether you're dying or not.
When I first saw this movie, I cried. It is such a wonderful movie, and hit home with me and the situation with my family at the time. I knew I had to own a copy of it. But for years, I'd search the TV Guide hoping it would come back on TV,and I could tape it, but no such luck. Until a couple of years ago, TNN aired it, along with The Gathering, Part II, and I got it on tape - but with commercial interruptions!! I would dearly love to have this movie on DVD or VHS tape, as it has now become a tradition to watch it every year.
Along with "All Mine to Give", this is the other film my wife and view each Christmas Eve, and although I disagree in a small way with some of the commentators who precede me, if you can catch this one at Christmas time, watch and tape it--This is a film you should suspend your disbelief, and immerse your self in the story--There are few examples of great acting, except, I hasten to add, that of Maureen Stapleton--Her character has the goodness of "Miss Mellie" in GWTW, but has an era appropriate anger--The writing is equal to the acting, so maybe the actors are doing the best they can with the material given, and if viewing critically, one might think a few more rewrites wouldn't be amiss--But as I stated above, don't view it critically-(after 10+ viewings, some critique does creep in)--This notwithstanding, when viewed as a whole, especially with John Barry's evocative score throughout(I have been unable to track down a copy of the soundtrack},it's a moving tribute to the type of family Christmas some may have had, and all wish they had, but nevertheless evoke nostalgia for Christmas past--The impending death leitmotif, although essential, is not a "downing" factor--One is left with a pleasant melancholy, and an appreciation for one's family, however they define it--Merry Christmas, Everyone--
This is one of my annual holiday favorites. We have several movies we watch every year during the holidays and this one has been a regular on the list since we got our first copy. We are now on our third. I remember watching it the year it first aired and tried to catch it each year there after. When the holidays are upon us, we set aside an evening to watch this with the family or sometimes I have watched just by myself. Even after watching so many times, it still stirs my holiday spirit and reminds me of family and friends far away. Even knowing the story so well does not keep a few eyes from growing moist. It helps remind me of many a Christmas when I was a kid. Some of us may never grow up. This movie is for the sentimentalist hiding in all of us.
This movie used to be a Christmas staple each year to the point where you never worried about it coming on. Now, it hasn't been on in nearly a decade as I write this in early December of 2000. It's sadly missed. If you get a chance to see this, don't miss it. Tape it, Tivo it, do whatever you have to in order to catch it. The acting is fantastic, the story genuine and the feeling just perfectly balanced across all spectrums.
It was interesting to read the production credits of The Gathering, an
extremely well-acted drama, and see the following title - Executive
Producer: Joseph Barbera. When Barbera died in 2006, it was a shame
that the obits never mentioned his Emmy win for this critically
acclaimed TV movie. Barbera, with business partner William Hanna,
produced numerous TV cartoon shows and the Tom & Jerry shorts. The
Gathering was Hanna-Barbera's few non-animated projects and this
Emmy-award winning drama hit the ball right out of the park with its
unsentimental view of one family celebrating Christmas for a final time
with their long-lost father.
Strong performances by a great ensemble cast including Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton as the parents, an observant script by James Poe (who co-adapted Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and won an Oscar co-adapting Around the World in Eighty Days) and well-directed by Randal Kleiser (who would direct the movie Grease a year later) made The Gathering one of the better TV-movies from the 1970s.
Update: May 13, 2011
Warner Brothers Archive Collection released The Gathering on DVD in 2009.
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