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While I do not argue with the fact that there is nothing
like the original classic, this remake has some wonderful
moments. I really like the twist that now it is a female who's life is turned up side down. It is a pleasure to see Marlo Thomas in the leading role. It is wonderful to see her act in a feature movie. Also, Orson Wells plays his part to
a tee. I do wish this film was availabe in some format or
at least some stations would run it again. The story is great no matter who is playing the part. I don't understand why it isn't shown around Christmas with so few good holiday movies out there.
I totally disagree. This was and is a wonderful picture. I don't view
things as whether they match up to the remake but if they are enjoyable
and worth watching for my family. I would gladly show this to my family
and have asked TCM to dig up a copy this Christmas so they can see it.
Cloris Leechman is fabulous and Marlo does a great job.
I can't wait for my family to see it and enjoy both It's a Wonderful Life and It Happen One Christmas.
Go to turnerclassicmovies.com this Christmas and search to see if they found it.
I always like to see both along with The Bishop's Wife and the new one The Preacher's Wife and I hope they will find a copy of Christmas Eve for us to enjoy. Love that Loretta Young.
I saw "It Happened One Christmas" in about 1978, I think on Christmas
Eve, while sitting alone waiting for my wife to get off work and join
me for the holiday. I hadn't seen Marlo Thomas since the original
airing of "That Girl" in the '60s. It was wierdly fun to see her on
something, and I had never seen nor heard of Capra's "It's a Wonderful
Life." Later when I did see "It's a Wonderful Life," I immediately
connected the story to that of "It Happened One Christmas," and thought
it was scandalous how the original had been ripped off, and how geeky
it was by comparison to the classic it had been "appropriated" from.
Today I wish I could find the knock-off on DVD. Now that I've seen Capra's original so many times, it would be fun to see the Marlo Thomas version again, if for no other reason than to bring back the nostalgic feeling of that evening that I first saw it. I remember that I was very touched by the story that night, geekiness of the treatment notwithstanding (or perhaps partly because of it!), and that it contributed to setting me up emotionally for a very special Christmas holiday with my spouse.
I saw this movie when I was 15 years old. I never forgot it. It has
remained in my heart all these years. I forgot the name of the movie
but not that Marlo Thomas was in it. I have been trying to get a copy
of this movie now, that I know the name of the movie. It is a great
movie. I have Its A Wonderful life and its good too. I just like It
Happened One Christmas better. It touched my heart and got into my
soul. Some movies do that to you and this one did it for me. I loved
that it was in color. I love the modern version. I liked the switch of
gender. I related to the struggle in the movie. I was going through a
hard time in my life at the time and it gave me hope.It also made me
realize that perhaps our lives are not only for ourselves but for
others as well. This movie is a real jewel. You can watch it alone or
with your family. One movie is not hard to find and the other should be
made available so more people can decide for themselves. I wish It
happened One Christmas to everyone. We are not all going to be moved by
the same movie.This movie did it for me. If you want a copy of this
movie I just found a great website for those hard to find movies. Go to
www.myhouseoffilms.net/TVHOMEPAGE click on holiday movies. scroll down
until you find the title of the movie,It Happened One Christmas. You
can also try My Houseoffilms.net/ and contact Toni and give him the
name of the movie you are looking for.
I can't wait to see the movie after all these years. I have only seen it the one time. The impact of It Happened One Christmas is profound to me. I want it in my collection, and so should anyone who wants it.
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.
I must admit, I liked "It Happened One Christmas" MUCH better than
"It's a Wonderful Life." As with a few other IMDbers, this was the
first version of the story I ever saw; when ABC stopped running the
film after 1978, and until Universal Television syndicated it to local
stations in 1986, I had to settle for "It's a Wonderful Life" in the
interim, which I think couldn't, and NEVER will, hold a candle to "It
Happened One Christmas" (for one thing, Marlo Thomas DOESN'T go
screaming all the way through the scenes, like James Stewart did in the
original, where she saw what life would be like without her; for
another, Ms. Thomas' version was in Technicolor; and for yet another,
there was the novelty of the gender switch in the lead role, telling
the story from Mary Bailey's point of view. And, there was yet another
plus in seeing such up-and-coming stars as Doris Roberts and
Christopher Guest in one of their earlier roles).
"It Happened One Christmas" not only holds some cherished memories of my "wonder years" (I was 15 years old when this film was first shown on ABC; little did I realize December 1977 would be my family's final Christmas in Lansing, Michigan since my father capriciously decided to move us all to Illinois in June 1978), but four years later, in July 1981, my father and I took a trip to California, and we went on the Universal Studios Hollywood tour. When I saw "It Happened One Christmas" again in 1986, there were some parts of the Universal lot I recognized where the film was shot ("Leave It to Beaver" and "The Munsters" were also filmed on that same portion of the Universal lot where the exteriors of "It Happened One Christmas" were done), so yet another pleasant memory was encoded into it!
In mid-1987, shortly after my family bought their first VCR, I wrote to MCA/Universal Home Video (as the company was then known), asking if they would ever put "It Happened One Christmas" on videocassette; they sent back a form letter essentially saying, "not at this time," along with a catalogue of their then-current releases. Two years later, in December 1989, the film was rerun on USA (which Universal had a stake of ownership in at that time, and still does today); I was lucky to have taped "It Happened One Christmas" then (USA showed the entire film uncut, not edited to fit the time slot), but now the tape is beginning to deteriorate after 17 years. (I almost rerecorded "It Happened One Christmas" when it was shown on the ion Network December 22, but was glad I didn't after seeing the "hatchet job" they did on it - all the more reason Universal should put the film, uncut, on DVD!)
All I can suggest is: To those of us like myself who DID like and enjoy "It Happened One Christmas" better than "It's a Wonderful Life," and would like to see Universal Studios Home Entertainment (as they are now known) release the film on DVD, Universal's contact e-mail and snail-mail addresses should be given at their website. E-mail or write Universal and tell them to put "It Happened One Christmas" on DVD; remember: the more requests Universal gets about this film, the faster they'll unearth it and put it on DVD (one point to emphasize to Universal when writing: they NEVER even released this TV movie on VHS tape)!
I give "It Happened One Christmas" a perfect 10. And to those who thumbed their nose at this version, I'd like to rephrase a statement the late showman P.T. Barnum once made: "The critics be damned!"
This is one of the most unnecessary remakes of all time. It is nothing
but an ego trip by Marlo Thomas and should not have been made.
The biggest flaw was that since MARLO was producing this, her character was spotlighted so much that we got a lot less of the supporting characters like Bert & Ernie. Thus, we cared less about them.
Orson Welles is just sleepwalking through his part as Potter. He's not a patch on Lionel Barrymore.
I watched this when it first premiered and was already a fan of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I was appalled that the original scriptwriters received no credit despite the fact that large parts of their dialog was used. This was because the movie had gone into the Public Domain at that point. The only credit was for the original story by Philip Van Doren Stern. I've read it and it can't be used as the source for the stolen dialog in this movie.
I think film classes should be shown both versions as an example of how to make such a movie and how NOT to.
I'm glad it's not available on legitimate VHS or DVD.
I love the original movie "It's a Wonderful Life" but I also love "It Happened One Christmas". I loved the twist in using a female. Marlo Thomas was great in this film. I only wish there was a way of purchasing this film since it not on video. I watch my copy every Christmas and enjoy it more each year.
Make no mistake: Marlo Thomas is still a most attractive woman; but 35
years ago, she was just the right age for the role of Mary Bailey
Hatch. Probably more damaging than anything else in 1977 was the fact
that "That Girl" was only six years off of network, and likely in wide
syndication, leaving Marlo typecast as the ditzy "Ann Marie," a
character far removed from the young businesswoman in "It Happened One
Christmas." Perhaps that was one of the reasons why Marlo took the
Remaking "It's a Wonderful Life" is kind of like repainting the Mona Lisa: It is doomed to be compared to the original, and inevitably, less than favorably. Having said that, standing on its own, "It Happened One Christmas" simply glows.
It's difficult not to fall in love with Marlo as Mary Bailey Hatch, to cheer for her when she flourishes, and to cry with her when she believes that life isn't worth living.
The supporting cast is adequate. Wayne Rogers likely had the same problem as Marlo, having recently left the cast of "MASH," but in the supporting role of George Hatch--almost a background character--he played well. Cloris Leachman, as the angel Clara, was cute, but succumbed to the temptation to overact. For Orson Welles, it was about the era when he was known for the phrase, "We will sell no wine before its time" (in a popular television commercial for Paul Masson wines), and his performance as villain Henry Potter was almost an extension of that. Doris Roberts as Ma Bailey had yet to find the spark which she would later exude as Ray Romano's mother. And Christopher Guest, as younger brother Harry Bailey, was simply wooden, even in the classic signature line in the final scene.
The biggest strike against "It Happened One Christmas" is that it was what those in the business refer to as a "madefor"--that is, it was a made-for-television movie, putting severe restrictions on length and budget. Many elements of the story were either condensed or eliminated, and it simply has the "look and feel" of a "madefor." If you've seen and loved "It's a Wonderful Life," you will surely say that "It Happened One Christmas" falls short...
But Marlo will steal your heart.
At the time, Ms. Thomas stated that she undertook this pointless remake of a classic as a way of showing that women could be as valuable as men. That point had been proved in 1946 by a woman named Frances Goodrich who coauthored the original screenplay with a man named Albert Hackett. That was a wonderful screenplay and it showed how the value of women is proved by original creative output not by pallid hackwork like "It Happened one Christmas." I really wish Ms. Thomas had spent her considerable resources and the considerable talents of her cast on something original. They had nothing to add but to switch the male and female leads. Curiously, Ms. Thomas did not switch genders in casting Mr. Welles in the Lionel Barrymore role as the evil Mr. Potter. Evidently, Ms. Thomas belief in the potential of women does not extend to villainy. Pity.
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