I love watching old Christmas Movies in the mornings. Especially before Halloween, and before Work. But I had been putting off watching A Christmas Wish for the last three years, so why give in now? I have to say there was some curiosity, but not much expectation for this to actually be a good film. See, I had already found the Christmas Movie underdog of the olden days… and nothing was going to live up It Happened on Fifth Avenue, so why bother? But here’s the thing…
…I have to give Jimmy Durante a chance, even if it’s a story about a dancing squirrel named Rupert.
Also known as The Great Rupert, A Christmas Wish is about a family that is down and out during the holidays.
The film starts with an old gentleman and his dancing squirrel, The Great Rupert. While they seem to be having the time of their life together it takes only one visit from his agent to learn that there is no future for him and his squirrel in show business. With dreams dashed he decides to let the squirrel go and leaves town. The squirrel, however, stays and returns to their old apartment, no doubt waiting for the return of his master. Thus frees up a vacant apartment for our favorite down and out family.
With Jimmy Durante and Queenie Smith playing parents to Terry Moore, this little family accepts they’ll have to make the best of things. And thankfully is able to delay the rent payment due to the kindness of the landlord’s son ( Tom Drake).
But without work there really may be no way to pay for the apartment in which they are now living. So mom sits down to pray and shares that her daughter needs new shoes, so if only they could have a little bit of money, that would help. And with a simple prayer comes 1500 dollars raining from the ceiling of their crappy apartment. Whenever they need more money this is the ritual they follow.
First, let me just say that I love the inclusion of Faith in this film. The message, however, at this point in the movie seemed rather irresponsible to say the least. Post-Great Depression many movie-going families were themselves very down and out, so why give them false hope of money raining from the sky?
Besides, where did the money come from? See, the greedy landlord living above this basement apartment makes a habit of stashing lots of money in a hole in the wall because he doesn’t trust banks. The squirrel, however, lives in the hole and doesn’t like it cluttered up with money. And every once in a while, when mom prays, he pushes the money down into the basement apartment.
And so it begins that the family who is down and out starts having loads of money at their disposal. But what happens next is what makes this a decent Christmas film, and one that carries a decent message.
As our little family gets more and more money gifted to them by the grace of God, they also begin sharing it with the families in town that also need help. Small businesses, children that need shoes, friends, even the landlords son gets the support he needs for an investment deal. So yes, it is possible to get money, appreciate money and share money.
One of the things I like about this film is that it took what could have been an empty promise of wealth falling from the sky, and showed how investing in other peoples businesses could reap a small profit sharing check on a regular basis. Which is exactly how this small family begins to sustain themselves. I also love the “you get back what you give ten fold” mindset.
Needless to say the greedy landlord, who hoards his wealth, later realizes he’s lost all his money, when his house catches on fire. And he doesn’t trust insurance men either, so the house isn’t insured.
Lots of social messaging in this film for the movie-goer, made this sort of hard to enjoy just as a Christmas Movie. Even with the dancing squirrel! Terry Moore and the lovely Tom Drake help to keep the romantic side of the film light which is nice. And the story line takes a lot of dips and turns which does make you wonder how this family will keep going once the money runs out. Luckily, we’re shown by the end of the film how it all takes care of itself in the end. Faith after all, always works.
While definitely not as good as It Happened on Fifth Avenue, I will admit it was an interesting film, and one I probably will watch again.