35 user 5 critic

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

On Christmas Eve 1933, the Waltons prepare for the holiday. However, John Walton, who was forced to take work in another part of the state, has not returned home yet, and his family are becoming increasingly worried.


Fielder Cook


Earl Hamner Jr. (teleplay), Earl Hamner Jr. (novel)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Patricia Neal ... Olivia Walton
Richard Thomas ... John-Boy Walton
Edgar Bergen ... Grandpa Zebb Walton
Ellen Corby ... Esther Walton
Dorothy Stickney ... Emily Baldwin
Josephine Hutchinson ... Mamie Baldwin
William Windom ... Charlie Snead
Cleavon Little ... Hawthorne Dooley
Andrew Duggan ... John Walton
David Huddleston ... Sheriff Bridges
Woodrow Parfrey ... Ike Godsey
Sally Chamberlin Sally Chamberlin ... City Lady
Jon Walmsley ... Jason Walton
Judy Norton ... Mary Ellen Walton
Mary Beth McDonough ... Erin Walton (as Mary McDonough)


The Walton family is about to celebrate another Christmas. It's during the '30s and the Depression. John Walton promised to be home soon but seems to be late. John-Boy tells his sibs about Christmas and all that stuff. When John hasn't showed for hours, Ma sends John-Boy out to find him. Will John ever get home to celebrate Christmas with his family? This movie spun off the TV series "The Waltons". Written by Dylan Self <robocoptng986127@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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 »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The program Fibber McGee and Molly that the Walton family is listening to on the radio on Christmas Eve, 1933, originally aired in 1935. See more »


John-Boy tells Charlie Snead that his father used to let him drive "that old DeSoto he used to have". Chrysler started selling DeSotos in 1929, and this story takes place during the Depression, so there weren't any "old" DeSotos yet, & they didn't even own theirs anymore. See more »


Olivia Walton: Is it somethin' you're ashamed of?
John-Boy Walton: Oh no, momma.
Olivia Walton: Then why are you hidin' it?
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original TV showing had an introduction sequence before the film began. This introduction is featured on the newly released DVD version of the film. See more »


Featured in The Waltons: A Decade of the Waltons (1980) See more »


Jingle Bells
Written by James Pierpont (uncredited)
Performed by Cleavon Little, Dorothy Stickney, Josephine Hutchinson and Richard Thomas
See more »

User Reviews

A Wonderful Christmas Family Film
25 December 2002 | by Saturday8pmSee all my reviews

I saw this as a kid and still feel I need to see it every Christmas. I group it with "A Christmas Carol", "The Grinch", "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "It's A Wonderful Life" as Christmas movie essentials.

The acting is superbly done by seasoned pros and brilliant newcomers who give added depth to a well crafted script that tells the true story of a depression-era poor Baptist rural Virginia family awaiting its father to return home Christmas Eve. The story is simple and the movie never strays from its central theme, adding plenty of character developing touches that most folks can relate to. The Waltons are a real Baptist family dealing with the issues of the day, such as the economic meltdown of the '30s and bootlegging, and the timeless problems of family harmony, love, adolescence, pride, privacy, values, vocation choice and parental expectation.

The beautiful mountain scenery adds to the Christmas spirit that contrasts with the meager living the townspeople endure year after year. The Christmas tree, sleigh ride and church scenes are all treated with the respect that this humble family deserves and should warm even the coldest heart without getting overly sentimental. Plenty of Bible references to remind the viewer what Christmas is all about.

Cheers: Fine acting all around. Realistic portrayals. Wonderful scenery. A Currier and Ives looks without the empty sentimentality. Less Santa and more Jesus.

Caveats: May bore very young children.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars!

18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 35 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

19 December 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story See more »


Box Office


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

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed