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The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

Patricia Neal , Richard Thomas , Fielder Cook  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)

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The Homecoming: A Christmas Story + The Waltons Movie Collection (A Wedding on Walton's Mountain / Mother's Day / A Day for Thanks / A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion / Wedding / Easter) + The Walton Legacy (As seen on public television)
Price for all three: $41.98

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Product Details

  • Actors: Patricia Neal, Richard Thomas, Edgar Bergen, Ellen Corby, Cleavon Little
  • Directors: Fielder Cook
  • Writers: Earl Hamner Jr.
  • Producers: Lee Rich, Robert L. Jacks
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2003
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (410 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS5E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,030 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Set on a Depression Christmas Eve in 1933, this heart-tugging story centers around the Walton. They’re a rural American family preparing to celebrate Christmas together. Though times are tough, love and sharing are abundant in this family. An inspiring tale of love, hope and spirit, this deeply moving story goes far beyond the boundaries of time and place to reach out and touch everyone, everywhere.

Amazon.com

A true television classic, The Homecoming was the second movie (after 1963's Spencer's Mountain) based on Earl Hamner's autobiographical writings about love, pride, faith, and survival in rural America during the Great Depression. The Homecoming introduced the Walton family, a 1930s mountain clan living a hardscrabble existence that forces patriarch John Walton (Andrew Duggan) to seek work, far from home, in the city. When John fails to return home, as promised, on Christmas Eve, his iron-willed wife Olivia (Patricia Neal) keeps a lid on their children's worry. Oldest son John-Boy (Richard Thomas), who privately dreams of becoming a writer but worries about disappointing his parents, is dispatched to find his dad. Graceful yet harder-edged than the subsequent TV series The Waltons (which recast several characters and ran for nine years), The Homecoming reveals, albeit understatedly, much about the pain of poverty even as the family draws strength and closeness through endurance. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
217 of 226 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pilot for The Waltons July 29, 2003
Verified Purchase
Starring Richard Thomas and Patricia Neal, this made-for-TV-movie was written by Earl Hamner and led to the popular series, "The Waltons." The stories were based on Hamner's childhood.
(Note: This movie features a somewhat different cast than did the series. While the Walton children are the same, many of the other adult roles in this film, except Grandma Walton played by the late Ellen Corby, were recast for the series.)
A homespun tale, the movie focuses on rural life during the Great Depression and the anxiety a family feels one Christmas when their beloved Father is overdue after being forced to travel to the city to find work and earn money for his family's survival.
Each of the characters reacts to his departure in different ways. Ultimately, the oldest son, John-Boy, portrayed by Richard Thomas, takes important steps to manhood and toward his ultimate career as a writer.
This film has a harsher, more real feel than did the series, and tackles such difficult subjects as racial bigotry and the economic underclass.
The great Patricia Neal is spectacular in her portrayal of the mother. Tougher than the portrayal that came later by the gifted Michael Learned, Neal's Olivia Walton is a genuine force of nature who rarely displays her softer side. Life is very difficult, but love is always present in the Walton home.
If you've never seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to view a more unvarnished, less "suburban" rendition of life in this beloved family. A scene in which little Elizabeth, who desperately wants a doll for Christmas, receives one -- with a cracked and broken face -- from a "charity" Missionary only after having to "perform" scriptures, is so raw that it hurts. "It's dead," the little girl sobs into her brother's comforting arms.
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82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent DVD January 14, 2004
I saw this movie when it was first on in 1971 and have watched it at Christmas most every year since. Years ago it was usually on TV around Christmas and I taped it in the early 80's and have been watching this tape in recent years. This year I purchased the DVD (for only about $11! - I think blank VHS tapes were that much in the early 80's). The quality is outstanding, even when viewed on my 19-inch computer monitor from a couple of feet away. You can clearly see every detail (1933 on the car license plate, prices on the wall in Ike's store, even snow flakes melting on someone's face). Picture quality on most DVDs made from TV shows or TV movies is nowhere near this good. Believe me, this DVD is a real bargain.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great holiday classic November 5, 2004
Verified Purchase
As you may already know, this was the pilot for The Waltons t.v. series. Patricia Neal stars as Ma Walton. She does a fine job of it as well. Sometimes, it's a shock to see another person in a role you know so well but that's not the case here. In fact the whole cast did a splendid job. The Homecoming was so well cast that all of the child actors remained in their roles for the televison program. The roles of Ma, Pa and Grandpa Walton (played by Edgar Bergen)were recast along with the owner of the general store and the Baldwin sisters. Grandma Walton (Ellen Corby) continued the in role even after suffering a stoke a few years later. I give the producers high praise for not casting her aside like an old shoe.

If you think a Christmas t.v. show should be heartwarming, then you can't go wrong here. Set in the time of the depression, somewhere in the blue ridge mountains, lives a large family trying to make ends meet. There will be homemade gifts for Christmas but the children don't really mind. A far cry from kids of today. Here, people still attend church, look after their neighbors, children mind their manners and don't talk back to elders. It's the kind of place we older folks wish we could bring back, minus the lack of money of course.

The family is in a bit of a turmoil as they wait for their dad to return home for Christmas. Time passes but there is no sign of him. Neal is very convincing as the strong loving wife trying to hide her fear of what's happened to her husband from her children.

This is a great film for the kids to watch along with their parents. Parents, purchase with confidence. This film is kid friendly.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Who wants to see somethin' pretty?" November 21, 2003
By A Customer
This is an absolutely fantastic Christmas movie in my opinion. This made-for-TV movie from the 70's has it's own little niche in the Christmas specials, and it is unlike other Christmas movies. It's got a little bit of everything. . . it's family, it's funny and humorous without being slapstick - we have to laugh at ourselves for how we really are and how we really can be, it educates us, and it brings forth some issues that sometimes we don't want to really see. It turns everyday life into an adventure, and in the end, of course, it's comforting.
After having seen the TV series for years before seeing this, I had to adjust to the acting/portrayal differences between the mothers that played the role of Olivia Walton. As the mother, Patricia Neal is a bit more emotional and less gentle than Michael Learned.
This movie is a tradition in our family.
I will suggest that the "language" that makes this PG rated might be when Mary Ellen uses a derogatory and somewhat archaic reference to 'p-ss ants' (calls her siblings this term), and maybe when John Boy makes a statement concerning Mary Ellen's 'bosoms'. . . He says, "They'll grow." Then there are the two sisters with Papa's Secret Recipe (obviously, a homebrewed liquor concoction). That's just for your information in case you are hoping to show this to a particular group of people.
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