It Happened One Christmas (1977)

TV Movie  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy  |  11 December 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 459 users  
Reviews: 47 user | 2 critic

It's Christmas Eve 1944 in the small town of Bedford Falls, New York. A despondent and suicidal Mary Bailey Hatch is praying for guidance on what to do about an incident no fault of her own... See full summary »



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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Uncle Willie
Karen Carlson ...
Cliff Norton ...
Sassini (as Gene Conforti)
Morgan Upton ...
Robert Emhardt ...


It's Christmas Eve 1944 in the small town of Bedford Falls, New York. A despondent and suicidal Mary Bailey Hatch is praying for guidance on what to do about an incident no fault of her own which threatens her name and the community standing of her longtime family business, the Bailey Building and Loan, which she took over after the passing of her father. What Mary does not know is that most in town, including her husband George Hatch and their children, are also praying for her. All the prayers are heard by Joseph, God's gatekeeper of prayers. As there are no other angels available on such a busy day, Joseph assigns Clara Oddbody, angel second class (i.e. she has yet to receive her wings), to Mary's case, which he reluctantly does as Clara has never been assigned a case on her own in the two hundred years she's been in heaven for good reason. As Clara learns about Mary's case, she sees a selfless woman who always wanted to explore the world but never did, while others around her were... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Fantasy





Release Date:

11 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sucedió en Navidad  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title is a reference to on It Happened One Night (1934), and this TV movie is a remake of It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Both films were directed by Frank Capra See more »


Mary (Marlo Thomas) refers to her family's Building and Loan as a savings and loan twice, once in the taxi in the in the "run on the bank" scene, and another time near the end in the "Merry Christmas Bedford Falls" scene. Other times in the film, she correctly refers to the company as the Building and Loan. Savings and loans did exist at the time period in which this film takes place. She just got the name wrong a couple of times. See more »


Remake of It's a Wonderful Life (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

A turkey
1 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Allow me to correct two misconceptions from other posters. Firstly, to describe Marlo Thomas as more animated than Jimmy Stewart is fantasy of the highest order. Secondly, anyone who dares to describe It's A Wonderful Life as sickeningly sweet is missing the point completely. What's sickeningly sweet about a man who is frustrated at every turn in his efforts to leave his home town? What's sickeningly sweet about a man who is on the verge of suicide because of the threat of prison, bankruptcy..? What's sickeningly sweet about going around your home town and nobody knowing you, and your town has changed for the worse? Having asserted the brilliance of Jimmy Stewart (one of the greatest actors of all time) and It's A Wonderful Life, let's turn to It Happened One Christmas. The idea of turning the original concept on its head, so that Mary becomes the main character (with Peter Bailey as her father, and a younger brother called Harry who becomes a war hero) is interesting. Unfortunately, I couldn't avoid comparison with the original. Nevertheless, a reasonably gifted actress might have been able to convey some of the raw emotion evident - to most people - in Jimmy Stewart's portrayal. Alas, Marlo Thomas is so bad that she reminds me of the inadequacies of the worst of Demi Moore. But there are other problems. James Stewart was supported by other talented actors in 1946. Here, even the presence of Orson Welles as Mr Potter does not compare with the sheer nastiness which Lionel Barrymore brought to the part. Cloris Leachman gamely tried her best with Clara, but the whimsy of Henry Travers as Clarence is in a different league.

For me, It Happened One Christmas fails on every level. Maybe there's a case for a remake of It Happened One Christmas. Unlike its illustrious source of inspiration, It Happened One Christmas can only improve with a remake.

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