A Christmas Memory (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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Well Made Patty Duke Shines
Christmas-Reviewer28 April 2017


This film is a bout a boy named "Buddy" When Buddy's parents split and his New York thespian mother makes her career a priority, exuberant young boy Buddy (Eric Lloyd) is sent to the Depression-era South to live with distant and aging cousins. Though cousin Jennie (Piper Laurie) is strict and joy is hard to come by in the small town, Buddy finds an unlikely friend in his mentally challenged elder cousin, Sook (Patty Duke). Buddy and Sook embark on many delightful exploits, but forces beyond their control threaten to separate them.

This is a well made adaption of source material. The film holds your attention. The heart of this story is about "Unconditional Love". The two leads in this film have that for each other. It is love that all us deserve to find. I highly recommend this. It is family safe but small children will be bored. I think this is one of those films that the older you are the more you will enjoy this.

I will watch this again.
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A very touching story
Stryder6577528 April 2002
Long ago, in times gone past, when my children were small and their world was still small and did not hold as many people as it does now,our yearly tradition was to watch "A Christmas Memory".I would sit with a child on either side of me and we would enjoy this very touching story. It remains etched in all of our memories as one of the best traditions we had.Their Mothers world expanded also and included "friends" that we did not know about,so after the divorce all items were split up and some lost forever.One of the items happened to be our copy of "A Christmas Memory" I have gone to this site in hopes of finding a copy, the original with Geraldine Paige, I believe.This story shows how things always change and how every person who enters our lives is a teacher in one way or another and how the people who do enter our lives help map the journey that is the path we choose to follow.It also teaches a lesson concerning telling others how we feel about them when we have the opportunity and not waiting till it's too late. Highly recommended to all, young and old. Share this movies with someone close to you.
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Ah, to live in such an innocent age!
cada12323 December 2001
A Patty Duke performance that shines, as always. Looking at the other reviews, it would appear that people either loved or hated this nostalgic Christmas tale. Not having seen the earlier version, I was not swayed by comparisons. This one stands up just fine all on its own. It tugs at the heart strings even before the ending, as Miss Duke's character Sook and her young relative Buddy naively make holiday fruitcakes for the President and his wife. Ah, to live in such an innocent age!
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Not quite a train wreck version of Truman Capote's classic story
Dannybob12 December 2007
My initial feelings about this newer version of Christmas Memory were similar to many of the other posters. It does the original story a disservice by padding the story with a lot of extraneous characters and dialog that is so-not Capote. If you take this version on its own without making any comparisons, it's really not bad. Patty Duke tries very hard, and succeeds, in making Sook a character all her own. The other performers are also quite good. If the producers of this version needed to expand on the story to fill out 90 minutes, they might have included details from Capote's other Buddy/Christmas story entitled "One Christmas" where Buddy is sent to New Orleans to spend Christmas with his birth father.

Still, if you have the simplicity and charm of Capote's original imprinted on your mind and heart, this version will not do. I join the chorus of folks who would like the 1966 version on a pristine and uncut color DVD with Geraldine Page's wonderful performance and Capote's own voice narrating the story. Then again, perhaps it is sentiment that makes me favor the 1966 version, the same as the 1947 "Miracle on 34th Street" over any of its lame remakes, 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life" over 1977's "It Happened One Christmas", any animated Christmas specials other than the ones produced in the 1960s, or Lesley Ann Warren's 1965 Cinderella over Brandy's hip-hop version.
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A Christmas Memory (Old version)
jacqui026737 December 2005
Geraldine Paige is Sook. I haven't seen Patti Duke's version but why should I when Paige's performance was so perfect. I remember how real the characters were to me at the time I first saw it in the 60's. Would anyone know where I could buy Paige's version of A Christmas Memory? I have searched for a copy of this TV movie for many years. Also scanned the TV programming to see if it would be broadcast again year after year. I would like to ask the networks why hasn't this been shown each year? You may be very surprised to have a huge audience. Sometimes "old" is better. If a movie is not broke, don't fix it. I love "Its a wonderful life" with Jimmy Stewart which is shown 100 times each Christmas season but I think if this movie was added to the programming, it would be refreshing. If I ruled the TV networks, it would be on annually for this generation to feel the true spirit of Christmas.
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An annual Christmas favorite!
oversplainme9 December 2005
I first fell in love with this story when I listened to the book on tape 1993. I was thrilled to see it was made into a movie! Although some of the story and characters have been changed, the message is still there. I only wish that I could find this on DVD!! I thought Patty duke was great as Miss Sook and Eric Lloyd did a fantastic job as Buddy. For that matter, everyone was wonderful in this movie. It puts more than a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat every year, not to mention a chuckle or two! Does anyone know where/if this is available to purchase? I only have a home recorded copy on VHS and it's seen better days!
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Beautifully sensitive portrayal of beloved Sook by Patty Duke.
philip-614 January 1999
Anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Truman Capote and his boyhood years will find this wonderful adaptation right on the mark. The prior, much shorter work (1967) was also wonderfully executed with Geraldine Paige bringing her own interpretations to the screen. Truman Capote narrated that version and it was necessary to slow down the audio track of his voice in order to lower his intonations. No computers to do it then!

But, for my money, the Patty Duke version succeeds on all levels in bringing a superior work to the screen on a television budget.
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I could identify with Buddy
christmasfever1 June 2017
A "Christmas Memory" is a film that you may have never herd of but please don't stop you from viewing it.

This is the early life of Truman Capote. In this film he is a young boy who is helping his Aunt with her annual Christmas Fruitcake baking, His aunt is not the world's smartest person but she is full of what this world needs and that is giving "Unconditional Love". Buddy her also "Best Friends" who really do need each other. He loves her as much as she loves him.

Buddy & Sook live in a house with Sook's older siblings. The family patriarch however runs the house with an iron fist. She also doesn't seem to love having Buddy around. Buddy's has been living with them for over a year. His parents divorced & his dad lives in New Orleans. His mother is in "New YorK" trying to be an actress.

To tel you more would be a crime but this was a movie I could relate too.

Don't miss this! It is a great & emotional experience!
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Diluted version of the magnificent Geraldine Paige original
ktbarton324 June 2002
This production is truly a disappointment. The contrived language that was not written by Truman Capote himself is a travesty. The writer(s) are not of Capote's caliber & did not live what is being told. Why the original masterpiece was chosen to be redone,is quite a mystery. Truman himself advised & supervised the original ABC Made For TV Special & knew best what should/should not, be in it. Who doubts Truman Capote's ability as a writer? Some must, as they have rewritten HIS OWN recollection of HIS Christmas memory.
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Great performances in a film about deep friendship
SimonJack6 December 2016
"A Christmas Memory" is based on a 1956 short story of the same title by Truman Capote. Capote grew up in the South and in New York, and much of his work reflects personal experiences of his past. This story is autobiographical in most details. It's based on Capote's 1956 short story by the same title, published in Mademoiselle magazine. It is a heart- warming story about the special friendship and closeness of a young boy with an elderly cousin.

The story takes place in the early 1930s. Capote (nee, Truman Persons) was born in New Orleans in 1924, and when he was four his parents divorced. He was then sent to Monroeville, AL, to live with his mother's Faulk cousins. They raised him for the next four to five years, and in 1933 he moved to New York City to live with his mother who had married a textile broker, Joseph Capote. There's more interesting and traumatic background to the young writer who would become one of America's best writers in the 20th century. Capote wrote novels, short stories, plays and screenplays. His greatest achievement was the non-fiction novel, "In Cold Blood," in 1965. Many of his short stories and books have been made into movies. Among the most memorable are "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "The Grass Harp."

This film takes place one fall through the Christmas holidays when Capote was living with the Faulks. He had developed a deep relationship and friendship with cousin Nanny Rumbley Faulk. The family called her Sook, as the seven-year-old Buddy does in this film. While living with the Faulks in Alabama, Capote became friends with a neighbor, Harper Lee, who became a well-known author herself ("To Kill a Mockingbird"). In this film, Buddy befriends a neighbor girl, Rachel, played by Julia McIlvaine. Both of these characters in the film, Buddy and Rachel, are quite the storytellers. They have vivid imaginations and tell some tall tales.

Everything about this TV movie is excellent. The sets, scenery, camera work and direction are very good. And the performances are excellent. Patty Duke is superb as Sook, and a young Eric Lloyd gives a sterling performance as seven-year-old Buddy. The principals in the rest of the cast all give wonderful performances. Piper Laurie is Jennie, Jeffrey Demunn is Seabone, Anita Gilette is Callie, and Esther Scott is Anna Stabler.

It may be a stretch to call this a Christmas movie. It's a drama that takes place in December and much of the action of Sook and Buddy is in preparation for Christmas. The film explains why this young lad is in the care of distant relatives, all of whom are beyond middle age. All three of the elders love Buddy. But, the heart and soul of this story is one person, Sook. That Buddy comes into her life at a young age, and is able to be a part of her life for a time – is the filling out of a story of lasting friendship.

This is a good film that the whole family should enjoy. Just be aware that the ending is not a typical one where everyone is happy. Neither is it tragic. Just know that it's different – a getting on in life. For Truman Capote, death came early at age 59. His autopsy revealed intoxication from multiple drugs, and he had liver disease and phlebitis.
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A boring, cloying adaptation.
Tug-323 October 1998
There is another adaptation of Truman Capote's novella which stars Geraldine Paige and features narration by the author. This version is infinitely superior to the 1997 adaptation. What makes the Paige version work is its austerity and respect for the material. Nothing in it is sticky-sweet or earth-shaking; it tells the story of two gentle souls who enjoy each other's friendship, and tells it well. The 1997 version, on the other hand, seems to have no respect for Capote's story. It fills the stage with other characters, extraneous dialogue, and scenes that are so calculated and sentimental you might have to leave the room (I did). For example, this piece of dialogue: "If you send Buddy to military school, he'll die!" "He won't die." "Then I might!!" Just this one instance is so far away from the heart of Capote's tale that this TV movie should not have the gall to associate itself with the original book. Do yourself a big favor: stay far away from this version and read the original.
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It's awful
bkn6006-15 December 2005
There's no nice to say it. It sucks.

The original with Geraldine Page and Donnie Melvin, which IMDb doesn't even list, is far and away probably one of the best short movies EVER made. It's almost as if Page is not playing "Sook" - she IS Sook, as she comes out of the shadows with an oil lamp on Christmas Eve to comfort Buddy...it gives one chills to watch it. It brings home the full sadness, the emotions, which the remake is sadly lacking in, of a poor boy taken from the only person in the world who loves him.

I first read the story in sophomore English near Christmas, and our assignment was to write up our own "christmas memory." My paper was short and sweet: "I don't have one." I was excused from the assignment.

I found the 1966 film version some years later, and it was a very moving experience to watch.

It's unforgivable that the 1966 version isn't restored to full glory on DVD. I'd pay almost anything to see that.
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This version absolutely sucks.
Frazier13 November 1999
It is sad that anyone would remake something that was perfect. Do yourself a favor and do not watch this version as it is awful and reeks of staged nonsense that is boring and absolutely not in the vein with which Capote wrote the story.
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Worst adaptation ever
bkruse8 December 2003
Between Ms. Duke and the Hallmark people, I had every expectation this would be a decent version of a story that's been near and dear to me for over 30 years but when I stumbled across this on TV I lasted about 2 minutes. It made me cringe. It really did. There was no hint of the characters from the story. Where was the wispy Sook that Capote described? Where was the sense of innocence in Sook and in Buddy? Where was the feeling of having that one special friend where you felt safe in a world where everything else was strange and threatening in an unspoken sort of way?

It could well be, as someone else commented, that it stands on its own very nicely. In that case, they should never have invoked Mr. Capote's name. They should have just made up their own story. Then they could do whatever they liked with their characters and their dialogue. And then I would never have been tricked into watching it.

Bah, humbug.
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Warm entertaining movie
redwhiteandblue177626 December 2014
It's interesting how many reviewers commented on this movie and compared this version to an earlier movie version of the story. Since most people will only see this movie made in 1997, these comparisons mean very little. Tearing down this movie, because they liked the original better doesn't take away from the charm of this one. My family really enjoyed this movie as a warm, loving, well made story. For the most part, it appears people who watched this movie really enjoyed it and rate it highly. The only ones who gave it low marks are those who fancy themselves as movie "experts." And as I have discovered, many times in their attempt to sound lofty, intellectual and smarter than everyone else, they totally miss the point.
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Geraldine Page was a tough act to follow.
som19505 August 2013
Consider that Elizabeth Taylor was less credible as Alexandra de Largo in a remake of "Sweet Bird of Youth" than Page, even as a movie star! I totally agree that the "Stage 67" version (and some others, especially "Noon Wine" with Jason Robards and Olivia de Haviliand) should be available on DVD. (IMDB DOES include that version under "Stage 67" and even has a link to that page on the 1997 remake's page, btw.) I also agree that other characters are more developed in the longer version (quel surprise!), though I thought the other older cousins (in addition to Sook) were well-portrayed. I think the production values of the 1997 version were probably higher than for the 1967 one, though Page lives on in my memory. Patty Duke is less mannered, but endearing, and the story of the boy about to lose a playmate old enough to be his grandmother — after their last fruitcake baking orgy — remains as poignant and as clear as in the 1967 version.
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A positively dreadful remake. PLEASE see the original.
budmassey30 December 2010
I'd like to at least call this version of Capote's classic "well-intentioned", but what could have possibly been the good intent in turning a memorable classic into a maudlin mess? Every single bit of magic from the original, and there was plenty, has been mercilessly crushed by this positively dreadful remake.

The 1960's version had everything, including an unforgettable performance by Geraldine Page as the dotty cousin. Patty Duke's portrayal is radically different and, in the end, less endearing. Instead of Donnie Melvin's innocent counterpoint as Buddy, we have Eric Lloyd's murderous on-again, off-again Southern accent that is so villainous it must be illegal. And, of course, the lyric narration by Mr. Capote himself is sadly missing. In all, far too many liberties were taken with Capote's original story by this disaster.

Despite the fact that it is common knowledge that the woman in Capote's short story was his cousin Sook Faulk, that name is never mentioned in the original story. It almost seems that this story's writers wanted to impress everyone with their discovery of the cousin's identity, but it's a heavy-handed touch that adds nothing. Similarly, the expansion of dialog and the recounting of events and interaction, not to mention characters, that were not in the original story is an affront to Capote's genius.

It saddens me to think that so many viewers believe this to be the original version of the movie, and are not aware of the astonishing masterpiece that preceded it by three decades.
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Excellent Movie!!!
maireasasser25 December 2007
I love any movie that has to do with "old timer" ways. Sometimes, looking at the way "Christmas" is taken completely out of context, the "old timer" ways are usually the best!Purity, simplicity! Homemade ornaments, popcorn strung on the tree. Old movies, anything depicting the 1800's. There were some programs on PBS, Pioneer Village, and another one. Very excellent movies. Some people don't like those movies that depict old ways, but I have learned so many things from just watching them. Things that actually work. Survival movies are also very enjoyable and very informative. After all you can never tell when you might be stranded!
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Not Capote
pensman22 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This has always been a favorite short story of mine. It is in a way a perfect example of its title being a bittersweet Christmas memory. Unfortunately this version strays far afield from the original story. The narrator 's voice is completely eliminated, and for some strange reason the screen writer has invented a boy/girl relationship for Buddy with a totally extraneous character. Even the filming is off. Capote's story is redolent with descriptions of the local which takes place during a typical winter that has snow. Nary a flake in this production. Although Patty Duke is a fine actor her character is not the character Capote writes of. It would be nice is someone did a good short film of this story but this isn't it. You are much better off with the original story.
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Buddy & Sook Perfect Together!
Sylviastel30 December 2016
Patty Duke played Sook, a simple Southern Christian woman, who lives with her siblings; Piper Laurie played Jennie, the eldest who sacrificed her own personal life to care for the younger siblings; Anita Gillette played Callie and Jeffrey Demun played Seabone. The story is mostly about the relationship between Sook and Buddy, a young boy. Buddy was left there to live with them in Monroeville, Alabama (hometown of Truman Capote and Harper Lee). In real life, Truman lived with relatives while his mother pursued acting in New York City. Sook and Buddy's relationship is endearing especially with Patty Duke and Eric Lloyd in the roles. This film is the only version of the story I have seen so I can't compare this version.
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A boy's best friend is his eccentric aunt.
mark.waltz22 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The short stories of Truman Capote are as varied as a Christmas fruitcake, and in this expanded version of the story and the 1966 Television special, Patty Duke takes on the role so perfectly created by Geraldine Page. Every year, she makes fruitcakes for the neighbors, even sending one to the president and first lady. This year, movie star Jean Harlow gets the one that the previous year had been sent to Koan Crawford. Capote's childhood must have been fascinating even though he seems to have been transported from one relative to another. Along with "The Grass Harp", Capote made minor changes to the circumstances, but it is clear that the relatives seen here were his elders and were all influential in creating who he would become.

Sweet Eric Lloyd plays the young variation of Truman with Piper Laurie and Anita Gillette as Duke's serious sisters. Ironically, Laurie had played a variation of Duke's character in an underrated version of "The Grass Harp". Gillette's sister is somewhere in the middle strictness and seriousness wise, obviously form between right and wrong and sisterly loyalty. What there is in the way of a story surrounds the decision to send young Scott off to military school and the emotional turmoil this brings to him and Duke.

Typical Capote eccentrics appear in minor parts including an obviously black maid who claims to be Cherokee (a character also in "The Grass Harp"), the local bootlegger, a tomboy with a crush on Lloyd and her obsessive piano playing mother. Think of this as a Southern variation of Neil Simon's autobiographical plays. It's more character driven and slice of life than plot driven, but it is all so sweet. Childhood memories of Christmas are precious and often influences who we are as adults. To see the adult Truman Capote in these young characters may seem as different as night and day, but it is a comfort in seeing how he shared his real self in all the stories he told.
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Despite the title, not very memorable...
natashabowiepinky5 December 2014
If you like Sunday Night 'entertainment' on ITV along the lines of Heartbeat or The Royal, you'll love this rather simple minded tale of a young boy spending his last Christmas with his family before he's carted off to military school. He makes fruit cake with his grandma, sees a barfight in a rowdy pub and get drunk on leftover whiskey. Oh... the hi-jinx!

For anyone with a pulse though, things may get a trifle dull, so despite the game cast and some lovely scenery, expect a few just-checking-my-watch interludes and a bit of I'm-not-yawning-I'm-just-exercising-my-jaw-muscles action. It's fits the spirit of the holiday and all... but for me personally, I want a little more substance than what this nice but meandering product has to offer. 5/10
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