13 user 4 critic

The Man Who Saved Christmas (2002)

A.C. Gilbert figures out a way to keep Christmas alive after the war threatens to take it away in his name.


Sturla Gunnarsson


Joseph Maurer (teleplay) (as Joe Maurer), Debra Frank (teleplay) | 2 more credits »
2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Alexander ... A.C. Gilbert
Kelly Rowan ... Mary
Ari Cohen ... Frank Gilbert
C. David Johnson ... Sam Ryder
Jayne Eastwood ... Mrs. Gilbert
Daniel Kash ... Hiram Harris
Jake Brockman Jake Brockman ... Al Jr.
Kenneth Welsh ... Newton Baker
Edward Asner ... Charles Gilbert
David Talbot David Talbot ... Ben
Jonathan Higgins ... Franklin Roosevelt
Brad Borbridge Brad Borbridge ... Guard
Bill Lake ... Secretary Daniels
François Klanfer François Klanfer ... Secretary MacAdoo
Craig Gardner ... Admiral


Although their own father, bank Charles, refuses them a loan to start a novelty American toys company to rival the established German import, the brothers A.C. and Frank succeed, especially with constructive and educational products. When the US gets dragged into Word War I, Frank enlists and Woodrow Wilson's government recruits A.C. as consultant to convert factories like theirs for the war effort. Yet his gifted preteen son, whose schoolmates meanly turned on the 'Christmas killer's kid', ends up convincing him to refuse canceling Christmas and even resume toy production. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He couldn't stop the war, but he wouldn't let the war stop Christmas.


Biography | Drama | Family | War


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Titles at the end of the film state that Erector Sets are known in the rest of the world as Meccano Sets, Meccano although very similar is in fact a different product from the UK that pre-dates Erector Sets by a decade. Errector Sets are now in fact made by Meccano. See more »


Frank Gilbert: [after giving a Christmas gift to A.C. Gilbert] You don't know how hard it was finding you something you didn't invent!
See more »


Deck the Halls
Traditional tune, lyrics by Thomas Oliphant
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User Reviews

An intelligent "feel good" Christmas tale
24 December 2003 | by bigpurplebear-1See all my reviews

"The Man Who Saved Christmas" would probably fail the historical accuracy test on any number of points -- casting roly-poly Jason Alexander as the former Olympic athlete A.C. Gilbert, for example; or the fact that A.C. jr., who features prominently in the film's storyline, wasn't even born until almost a year after World War I ended -- and so, if historical accuracy is your main criterion in judging a film, skip this one.

If, however, you're after warmth with intelligence, or a dose of sweetness that is neither sappy nor cloying, with perhaps a few telling insights into human nature thrown in for good measure, I suggest taking a look at this one. Jason Alexander crafts an amazing character, balancing childlike innocence against shrewd business savvy as his A.C. Gilbert struggles in his decency to do the right thing. First, however, he has to determine for himself just what is, ultimately, that "right thing," blind, unquestioning patriotic adherence to what the government wants out of him, or to look within himself as well and to follow the voicings of his own conscience? And, if so, then how to reconcile the two?

It's a particular strength of this film that there are no clear-cut "bad guys," per se. Even the senior Gilbert's seemingly hardheaded Scrooginess (under Ed Asner's stewardship) is tempered by an affection that doesn't come off as forced; but then, neither does the man's various changes of heart as he's forced to reconcile his own attitudes with those of his sons.

The real-life A.C. Gilbert is said to have trusted in the intelligence of the children to whom he marketed his science/technology-oriented toys. The same can be said for the producers of "The Man Who Saved Christmas" and their attitude toward their audience.

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USA | Canada



Release Date:

15 December 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Saved Christmas See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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