Adapted from the book by Charles Tazewell. Michael, a shepherd boy living in Biblical times, finds himself transported to Heaven on his eighth birthday. Michael doesn't fully understand where he is, or why he's there. A guardian angel named Patience is given the task of showing Michael the joys of Heaven and helping him find his place in the Hereafter.Written by
Eugene Kim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I recall seeing most of this "Hallmark Hall of Fame" musical special on NBC, probably when it first aired in December 1969. Seeing it again almost 30 years later, I found this shot-on-tape production every bit as dreary and depressing as I'd remembered it. "The Littlest Angel" is the heartwarming story of a shepherd boy named Michael who dies on his eighth birthday, and ends up in Heaven. (To make matters worse, the white dove that lures Michael to his death turns out to have been sent by God Himself.) Michael, less than enthusiastic about being in Heaven, just wants to go home - and who can blame him? If you have any small kids who weren't sufficiently traumatized by the demise of Bambi's mother, they're bound to get a kick out of the scene in which Michael is allowed to return to Earth briefly to retrieve his treasure box; he can see his parents, but his parents, who don't even know yet that their son is dead, can't see him.
In this special, Heaven is a place where people wearing white gowns and metallic halos are badly chroma-keyed against vaguely psychedelic backgrounds. There's very little plot, and a bunch of pretty forgettable songs which run the gamut from pious to perky. The video effects are hopelessly crude (even, I think, by 1969 standards). Johnny Whitaker, who was still co-starring in "Family Affair" on CBS at the time, is one of the few genuinely delightful things about this production. Fred Gwynne, a few years after shaking off Herman Munster, does what he can as guardian angel Patience. You may be surprised at how well he sings (as he did in the much later "Ironweed"). Connie Stevens appears for one number as a "flying mistress"; Cab Calloway leads a heavenly choir; E.G. Marshall plays God.
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