About Christmas TV History

Thursday, April 1, 2010

From the Big Screen to the Little Screen, Part 2

Okay, I'm running a little late to end my tribute to the Oscars...so let's just call this March 32nd.

In Part Two, I wanted to acknowledge Oscar-honored Christmas films that have inspired television re-makes. 1946's It's A Wonderful Life was nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. However, it was interpreted as a made-for-TV movie in 1977 as It Happened One Christmas starring Marlo Thomas as the story's female lead Mary Bailey, Orson Welles as Harry Potter and Wayne Rogers as the husband, George Bailey. This movie is very rare and as far as I can tell, hasn't re-aired on television in decades. Though many critics didn't like it, I'm dying to see how they re-interpreted the story to fit a female lead.

1947's Miracle on 34th Street was nominated for Best Picture but won three Oscars (Best Actor: Gwenn, Best Screenplay: Seaton, Best Original Story: Davies). The story was adapted several times for television anthology series episodes. However, it was also a 1973 made-for-TV movie starring Sebastian Cabot as Kris Kringle. This version has never charmed the critics but it is still worth seeing. The last several years, it has seen a resurgence in popularity and has been re-broadcast nationally at Christmas time.

And, 1944's Going My Way starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald won seven Oscars. Okay, I know, I know--this film is NOT Christmas-themed however, it has been broadcast nationally on TV at Christmas time for decades. (It does contain a scene with Bing Crosby singing 'Silent Night' with his boys choir.) With the sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's, these two films share a very close association with Christmas. Anyway, the movie inspired a TV series also entitled Going My Way with Gene Kelly in the role of Father O'Malley. This program appears to have a Christmas episode, 1962's 'Keep an Eye on Santa Claus.' I'd love to see the holiday installment of this rare series.

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