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The Homecoming: A Christmas Story

549 customer reviews

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(Sep 23, 2003)
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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Homecoming: A Christmas Story
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  • The Walton Legacy (As seen on public television)
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  • The Waltons Movie Collection (A Wedding on Walton's Mountain / Mother's Day / A Day for Thanks / A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion / Wedding / Easter)
Total price: $28.68
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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.

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Patricia Neal, Richard Thomas, Edgar Bergen, Ellen Corby, Cleavon Little
  • Directors: Fielder Cook
  • Writers: Earl Hamner Jr.
  • Producers: Lee Rich, Merv Adelson, 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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (549 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AQS5E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

237 of 246 people found the following review helpful By E. Hornaday on 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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90 of 91 people found the following review helpful By B. Bomar on 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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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By M. Fields on November 5, 2004
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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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Simon Davis on March 1, 2005
Nowadays what is not commonly know about the classic 1971 Christmas television movie "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", is that it was not originally intended as the pilot episode for any series little alone the long running classic series "The Waltons", which did end up spinning off from it. Highly acclaimed with good reason at its premiere for Christmas 1971 this beautiful little movie was a regular feature in our Christmas television programming for many years before it strangely seemed to vanish off the tv scheduling lists along with many other wonderful Christmas themed offerings. Watching "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", now of course makes most interesting comparitive viewing in the light of most viewers having become so used to "The Waltons", television series that ran for 9 seasons and that had different actors playing in many of the adult lead roles. This Christmas movie however needs to be viewed on it's own unique merits where it can be seen as a truly inspired piece of movie making from a seemingly simpler time that was perfect for then converting into an ongoing series as did actually happen. It also says alot about the high standards that were once an almost expected feature of these made for television movies. Thankfully now released on DVD in a superb restored print this touching but at times very realistic Christmas drama is now a treasured part of my annual Christmas viewing schedule.

Set during the depression at Christmas 1933 "The Homecoming", centres on a poor rural family struggling like alot of the nation to survive another bleak winter. What the family lacks in resources they more than make up for in family togetherness and love so it is a bit wrench when father John (Andrew Duggan), must seek work out of the county to try and support his family.
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