A city-bred grandson moves to his grandparents' farm during the Great Depression and grows up enough under their tough care to help his grandfather deliver a surprise gift on Christmas Eve ...
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A city-bred grandson moves to his grandparents' farm during the Great Depression and grows up enough under their tough care to help his grandfather deliver a surprise gift on Christmas Eve to their community church with the help of a phantom stranger. Written by
Miles Hood Swarthout
One of the classic Christmas stories that deserves to be circulated
I generally do not like made for TV movies. Granted they are getting better with more production value being spent today, but back in 1978, it was, for the most part, a low budget genre.
Which is what makes this little gem of a Christmas movie all the more interesting. I would rate this right up there with the classics of the seasonal bunch, including A Christmas Carol (Alistar Sims version), It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, The Bishops Wife and The Lemon Drop Kid. All bring out the best elements of what is necessary to make a Christmas movie work, and this one is no exception.
First, the cast is wonderful. Jason Robards as the cantankerous tough old farmer, plays this role with perfection. I think the world of Mr. Robards and his roles, but this one may well be one of my favorites. Eva Marie Saint shows why she was one of the best female actresses for a 30 year period, from On The Waterfront to this one, and its a shame that she was not used even better for other roles.
The story is also just right. Told from the perspective of a young boy, whose mother sends him off to live with his grandparents on a farm somewhere in the midwest because she cannot afford to keep him during the depression, he has no idea what farm life is like, nor who these old strangers are. To make matters worse, the grandfather is still unable to get over the loss of his son, the boy's uncle, who was killed in WWI. His grief, combined with his tough farm exterior, makes for a very difficult situation for the young boy, who is also trying to cope with his own loss having been sent away.
I won't go into any more details so that the reader can view this and see for themselves how things unfold, and what happens. Suffice it to say that the story does not fail to bring out the best in what we hope for around this time of year, and beyond that, why such things as family, love, and the ability to face our own loss and to look beyond for help are so important.
It was really a fluke that I found myself holed up one evening on a road trip back in 1978, channel surfing, and coming upon this movie just as it started. I was very grateful that I had. I managed to see it one more time many years later, but now that I have children, and we spend each holiday season watching great holiday movies together, I very much wish that this movie would get a better treatment, at least released to a wider audience. I cannot even find it at any video stores on VHS. For whatever reason, whoever owns this movie does not realize its potential. Were it me, I would get it out there, show it off, and watch it's popularity build year after year. Until then, I just have my memories.
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