|The above image is scanned from an original press kit in the Northernstars Collection.
One Magic Christmas and the classic It's a Wonderful Life have a few things in common. For example, both films have central characters who wish they had never been born and both are saved, in a way, by a guardian angel. In both films the guardian angels appear like anything but, and both films resolve their plot lines by showing what life would be like if the main characters had be granted their wish. But there are vast differences. While Jimmy Stewart is brilliant, It's a Wonderful Life reflects the time in which it was made as well as the time in which it was set. His performance is mellow-dramatic in many scenes and is frankly over-the-top in others. But that's what audiences wanted in 1946. It must be remembered that it was released less than a year after the end of the Second World War. Fast forward almost exactly 40 years and Mary Steenburgen is the exact opposite to Stewart's frenetic portrayal of a man who has lost his will to go on. She plays her role with a calm resolve that sometimes borders on defeat and helps paint a truer picture of how a difficult life can change an otherwise happy person. She is truthful to her character and comes to rediscover life itself while she also rediscovers the joy and beauty of Christmas, thanks to the unshakable faith of her daughter Abbie played by American actor, Elizabeth Harnois. Gideon, the "cowboy" Guardian Angel played by Harry Dean Stanton, deserves special mention. You could easily watch this movie for his performance alone. One Magic Christmas may be a bit too treacly for some, but it's a fine film. The other thing it shares with It's a Wonderful Life is the fact that it is deserving of the term "classic." More than twenty-five years after it was made, it stands the test of time and should be part of any network schedule at Christmas.
88 minutes - Drama
Release date: November 22, 1985
DVD release date: September 7, 2004
Distribution Company: Buena Vista Pictures