A Dream for Christmas (1973)
Where There's a Will There's a Way
Home is what you make it - Grandma Bessie
Hands up all those who grew up and loved the wholesomeness of "The Waltons". If your hand is up I reckon you might just love "A Dream for Christmas" as various people involved with the production of "The Waltons" were involved with this including Earl Hamner Jr. who is uncredited for the story. And it not only has the people involved it has that same wholesome nature, that grounded but inspiring style of little stories narrated as if being told from the viewpoint of someone recalling the old times.
It will soon be Christmas and the Rev. Will Douglas (Hari Rhodes) along with his family are leaving Arkansas for L.A. where he has been asked to take over a church. After 10 days driving across country in their beat up old car they arrive to find their dilapidated church with a big construction sign in the front yard. Will soon discovers that George Briggs (Robert DoQui) owns the mortgage on the building and unless payments are made he plans to knock it down and build a retail outlet on the plot. Not only that Will also learns that the church doesn't have any money to pay him. Despite this Will and his family set about saving the church and fitting into their new life in L.A. which comes with its troubles especially for their children and especially for young Bradley (Marlon Adams) who spots that the parsonage has no chimney so worries that Santa won't be able to come.
So what is "A Dream for Christmas" about? Well it basically a series of stories revolving around the Douglas family as they settle down in L.A. We have Will who is not only trying to save the church but also support his family. This leads on to stories revolving around his wife Sarah and Grandma Bessie who also go looking for work as does there eldest son Joey who makes friends with Cotter a kid with attitude and who could lead Joey astray. Then there is Joey's sister who is finding it hard to fit in and missing her friends whilst little Bradley has his worries about Santa not bein able to visit as there is no chimney. All these stories weave together in a wholesome and uplifting way as the family work together and work hard to make a go of things.
Now with "A Dream for Christmas" understandably being a Christmas movie it has to be said that whilst inspiring it isn't a bubbly movie, it is very grounded in the same way that "The Waltons" was. But having this element of life's hardships doesn't make it any less charming in fact watching this family work hard together is encouraging. And to sound like a broken record the fact that this is done in a wholesome manner for me just adds to the movie's charm, something which is lacking from many modern Christmas movies.
And then there is the acting and whilst we have different actors and characters to "The Waltons" the characters are in some ways quite similar. They have that honesty about them of hard working folk which makes you warm to them be it Hari Rhodes as Rev. Will Douglas or Beah Richards who has a touch of the Ellen Corby about her as Grandma Bessie.
What this all boils down to is that "A Dream for Christmas" is a charming Christmas movie which has the same style and wholesome charm as "The Waltons". Modern audiences might find it a bit twee but for those who grew up listening to John-Boy, Jim-Bob and Esther this will be a welcome warm blanket of wholesome entertainment.
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