It Happened One Christmas (1977) Marlo Thomas, Orson Welles, Wayne Rogers, Cloris Leachman Movie Review

It Happened One Christmas (1977)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Marlo Thomas in It Happened One Christmas (1977)

It Isn't a Wonderful Life

Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls and Mary Bailey Hatch (Marlo Thomas) has become depressed and suicidal due to something which happened which not only threatens the Bailey Building and Loan which she took over after her father passed away but also the family's name. What Mary doesn't realise is that her husband George (Wayne Rogers), her children and the entire community of Bedford Falls is praying for her. When the prayers of the people reach heaven, gatekeeper Joseph only has the untested angel Clara (Cloris Leachman) to send down to help Mary. After being shown Mary's life, having given up her chance to go travelling on order to run the business as well as taking on the mean Henry Potter (Orson Welles) Clara believes she knows how to help Mary see how much she has helped others.

The irony is that for a movie about a depressed man "It's a Wonderful Life" has never depressed me yet having finally got to watch the 1977 version of Philip Van Doren Stern's story "It Happened One Christmas" I have never felt more depressed. I know there are many who love "It Happened One Christmas" but this is a corny re-imagining which attempts to tell the story with a gender twist with it being Mary Bailey rather than George Bailey who is the focus. The daft thing is that the gender switch for me is not an issue the production as a whole is.

Orson Welles in It Happened One Christmas (1977)

Now I can sum up everything which is wrong with "It Happened One Christmas" by saying it lacks charm. To expand on that the acting through out from everyone is forced with people trying to recreate the same characters from the original but only end up weak imitations in comparison. This is even worse in the scenes when they tried to recreate scenes from the original with for example the famous gym dance scene over the pool being a painful experience. Fortunately it does switch some things around out of necessity by changing George to Mary and Clarence to Clara which gives it some reasonable scenes although Cloris Leachman as Clara just ended up really annoying with what sounded an incredibly fake voice.

I could go on but I hate to destroy movies which were made with good intentions even though I think any movie which tries to remake or in this case re-imagine a classic is misguided. But I was curious as to how comes "It Happened One Christmas" seemed so popular as it is weak in comparison and then I found out why as back in 1977 "It's a Wonderful Life" had been forgotten about and so when audiences watched "It Happened One Christmas" it drew an audience who didn't know the classic. Of course the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" reappeared and so this TV movie thankfully slipped off of the radar.

What this all boils down to is that "It Happened One Christmas" just didn't do it for me and whilst I can understand why those who saw it back in the late 70s might love it those who cherish the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" will find it weak in comparison and in truth misguided from start to finish.

Tags: TV Christmas Movies, Christmas Movies