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The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

The Walton family is preparing for Christmas in the early 1930s. It's Christmas eve and they are waiting for father Walton to come home from his job in the city some 50 miles away. Since he... See full summary »



(teleplay), (novel)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Olivia Walton
John-Boy Walton
Ebenezer Walton
Esther Walton
Dorothy Stickney ...
Emily Baldwin
Mamie Baldwin
Charlie Snead
Hawthorne Dooley
John Walton
Sheriff Ep Bridges
Ike Godsey
Sally Chamberlin ...
City Lady
Mary Ellen
Erin (as Mary McDonough)


The Walton family is preparing for Christmas in the early 1930s. It's Christmas eve and they are waiting for father Walton to come home from his job in the city some 50 miles away. Since he is late, everyone is worried and over the radio the mother and grandparents hear about an overturned bus and hurt travelers but keep this news from the rest of the family. The story is really a coming of age story about the oldest son JohnBoy who must cut down the tree with his grandfather since his father isn't home and is eventually told about his missing father and sets out to find him. An all round heartwarming story, especially if you are a fan of The Waltons. A simple story about a simple family in simple times. Great family entertainment! Written by Norm

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

christmas | See All (1) »


That wondrous sense of belonging. With the family gathered together in bright-eyed anticipation. It's all there. In a poignant story of a bygone Christmas, of a father strangely absent and a woman who refused to give up hope. See more »








Release Date:

19 December 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le retour au foyer  »


Box Office


$50,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Spawned the long running TV series, 'The Waltons' See more »


After Charley brings in the turkey, He says he shot it and there are questions asked how he did that and how clean the bird looked. It was obvious right away though that it must have come from a store. It was clearly already plucked, gutted and wrapped in paper? See more »


Featured in 25 Most Heartwarming Holiday TV Moments (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

1970s Hairstyles in 1930?
23 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

I watched this again after not seeing it in almost 40 years. A good / enjoyable movie which served as the pilot for the Waltons TV series. With so many other Christmas/Holiday specials and stories now available this one seems very dated now. Veteren actress Patricia Neal does not get the majority of screen time. In fact the big names (which also include Cleavon Little and veteran character actor Ellen Corby) are not the main characters in most of the scenes. I remember watching this when in aired in 1974 (not the original airing which was 1971) and I couldn't believe I was hearing the now, younger Walton children using the words "poop" and "piss-ant" which still were quite taboo on TV in 1971, especially in a movie that was aimed at children and families. Today it's no big deal but I remember hearing Mary Ellen call her siblings "piss-ant" and thinking isn't that one of the 7 words George Carlin said you could never say on TV? Details aside, I found the whole premise of waiting for their daddy and worrying about him tended to make the movie drag on even though viewers are given a lot of info on why he might be late. Despite this the pace just built a lot of anxiety - we simply lost interest halfway through it. Also by this time we were familiar with the Walton family because of the now popular series and seeing Olivia and John Sr. portrayed by different (albiet well known and seasoned) actors was a big let down for us. Upon watching it again this year, I actually liked it but mostly due to the nostalgia and not because of the story, which is actually better than I remembered. The one aspect that I found a bit annoying was the hair on Ben, Jason and Jim Bob. It was so 1971. This movie, based on references made to President Hoover, supposedly takes place in the early 1930s and any young boy that had hair over his ears at that time would've been ostracized to say the least. Thirty years after the movie takes place, the Beatles became popular and people thought their hair (which at the time was shorter than that of said characters) was too long. But it is a made-for-TV movie so details are often ignored and it really doesn't add to or detract from the story. I just found it interesting. Anyway, it is not a 'sit down with the family and watch' movie by today's audience standards. Many of the people who would remember the times in which this movie takes place are now long gone and it will not connect well with parents and grandparents of today as it did in 1971. It is now good for serving as a nice memory to the baby boomers but not much beyond that.

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