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A Christmas Story” for “The Waltons”

Patricia Neal offers one among her finest performances as Olivia Walton in 1971’s
“The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.”


Homecoming: A Christmas Story
aired 50 years in the past Dec. 19,
as a TV vacation film. The response from viewers and critics was so sturdy that
the community gave creator Earl Hamner, Jr. the go-ahead for a collection, with out a
pilot. The Waltons joined the 1972-3 CBS
lineup and ran 9 seasons. After that got here six reunion TV films!

“The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” was so fashionable
that it turned a TV collection, “The Waltons.”

Primarily based on Hamner’s
fictionalized novel about his household, The
takes place Christmas Eve, 1933. John Walton works in the course of the
week, miles from his Virginia dwelling, and returns every weekend. Because the household
prepares for the vacation, the adults anxiously await John’s arrival after
listening to information of a bus crash. Lastly, mom Olivia sends John-Boy out to look
for him. By no means concern, all’s nicely that ends nicely, however not with out some twists
alongside the way in which.

Richard Thomas turned a breakout star together with his function as John-Boy Walton.

I watched this Christmas
film as a small city Higher Michigan child and loved the agricultural household’s story
a lot.  I additionally liked The Waltons when it first aired, however was
a bit disenchanted when Patricia Neal did not proceed to play Olivia Walton. Michael
Discovered received three Emmys as Olivia, however I assumed she performed her as a little bit of a
stick within the mud. Now, although I nonetheless love Neal’s efficiency, you possibly can see in
sure scenes that she’s dragging her leg. A weekly collection for an almost a decade
would have been an excessive amount of for the post-stroke star. Right here, in The Homecoming, Neal is the guts of the
story, and he or she acquired an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award. As Olivia,
Patricia’s sturdy, fierce, earthy, romantic, and nostalgic. And I like Neal’s
relaxed and raspy Kentucky drawl. 

Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton anxiously awaits the return of her husband
on Christmas Eve in “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.”

Richard Thomas’ profession
was launched as John-Boy Walton, successful an Emmy for Finest Actor in a collection for
1973, at age 22. His open face and earnest appearing felt practical and was a reduce
above the everyday younger TV stars. Additionally, Thomas was a dreamboat to each
delicate women and boys.

Earl Hamner, Jr. with Richard Thomas. John-Boy Walton was Hamner’s
fictionalized model of himself as a younger man. 

The rapport between
Neal’s staunch mom and Thomas’ dreamer son offers this film resonance. Olivia
is exasperated as to what John-Boy is as much as behind locked doorways, which leads her
to pound on his bed room door. Because the no-nonsense mom, Neal’s altering
reactions flicker throughout her face as Thomas’ son pours his coronary heart out about his
desires as a author. And Olivia’s agency however loving directions as she sends
John-Boy out to search for his father can be subtly sturdy. Thomas as John-Boy shines
as he steels his braveness and units out to search out his daddy, within the native lush’s
crate of a automotive. John-Boy’s ideas and his eventful night whereas he seeks
assist are heartfelt and gently humorous.

Patricia Neal & Richard Thomas’ scenes collectively give
“The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” its quiet energy.

Ellen Corby was an
viewers favourite as crusty Grandma Walton, and he or she jogged my memory of my
tough-talking Grandma Alvera. Corby received a complete of three Emmys for her
function and he or she was advantageous from the get-go. Edgar Bergen performed Grandpa Walton authoritatively
and straightforwardly, and I need to say that somewhat of the later Will Geer went
a good distance. 

Edgar Bergen & Ellen Corby play Grandpa & Grandma Walton subtly in
“The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.”

The entire unique Walton
children are right here they usually do a superb job taking part in plausible brothers and sisters. Thomas’
John-Boy has many good moments together with his on-screen siblings, even when the large
brother is bored with taking part in “mom hen.”

What can be Christmas Eve be with out a go to to the Baldwin sisters,
candles on the tree and “the recipe” on the prepared?

As with the TV collection,
The Homecoming: A Christmas Story has
a terrific solid of supporting characters. The Baldwin sisters had been performed right here by great
veteran actresses Josephine Hutchinson and Dorothy Pickney. The prolonged scene
the place John-Boy and the preacher go to the moonshine-making sisters on Christmas
Eve is charming and bittersweet. And Cleavon Little is the preacher! From The Waltons to Blazing Saddles, that’s fairly a stretch. He’s whole charmer right here as
Hawthorne Dooley, who helps John-Boy polish his individuals abilities, whereas attempting to
get gasoline for the boy’s automobile. Prolific dramatic/comedic actor William Windom performs
the native drunk who can be the Christmas bandit, and he’s terrific as all the time. David
Huddleston is amusing because the sheriff who nabs him. Woodrow Parfrey portrays
storekeeper Ike Godsey in a one-off efficiency. Parfrey was a prolific
character actor in TV and flicks. I need to say that it is a jolt to see Andrew Duggan,
who I bear in mind as silvery-haired, flip up on the finale as Pa Walton with
fluffy, reddish hair! 

Cleavon Little of “Blazing Saddles” fame is a charmer as preacher Hawthorne Dooley.

I really feel The Homecoming is a bit grittier than The Waltons. The story is easy however
stuffed with feeling, fascinating characters, and based mostly in actuality, which
jogged my memory of Truman Capote’s basic, A
Christmas Reminiscence
. I felt a reference to John-Boy as each an aspiring
author and an atypical nation boy. One of many sweetest scenes is when Pa
Walton offers John-Boy a stack of Pink Chief writing tablets for Christmas.

A candy scene when Pa Walton acknowledges his son’s writing desires with this present.

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story is ready on the top
of the Nice Melancholy, practically a century in the past. This story might be a tonic for
our present fraught occasions—in order that fashionable viewers can see what arduous occasions actually
appeared like.

The outside scenes of “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” had been truly filmed
in Jackson Gap, Wyoming.

This is my take a look at one other rural look again at Christmas, Truman Capote’s A Christmas Reminiscence, with the nice Geraldine Web page:


FYI: I put all of the film overflow on my public FB film
web page. 

Test it out & be a part of!

The one unnatural second in “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” is when Andrew Duggan exhibits up on the end with fluffy crimson hair!




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