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4.8 out of 5 stars51
4.8 out of 5 stars
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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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on November 19, 2003
Ignore the warning about this 98-minute version being "edited" down from 120 minutes. Those supposed missing 22 minutes are from commercial breaks when this production was televised in a two-hour slot. Nothing has been edited out in this great movie.
And if you think 11 minutes of commercials an hour is a lot, hey, those were the days. It's closer to 16 minutes now.
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on July 29, 2003
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.
This film is anything but dead. There is real life in every panel that reaffirms true family relationships and the Christmas spirit without being heavy-handed. Look also for a gifted supporting performance by the talented William Windom, who plays a Depression-era Robin Hood.
If ever a TV-movie deserved to be released on DVD, this is it.
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on November 27, 2003
The Homecoming was one of my favorite christmas movies growing up.I remember seeing when it debuted in 1971.It was totally unlike any other holiday movie.I ordered the dvd because I haven't seen it in over 15 years because for some reason no network or cable stations will air it anymore.This is totally sad while stations are airing such "classics" as Home Alone 3, A Christmas Story,National Lampoons Thanksgiving Reunion and countless others pieces of crap.
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on November 21, 2003
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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on November 13, 2003
Nothing fails to get me in the Christmas spirit more than "The Homecoming." As other reviewers have indicated, this was a pilot for "The Waltons" and Patricia Neal is absolutely marvelous as Olivia...I just never felt Michael Learned could replace her. In fact, I am really not a fan of "The Waltons" TV series, but this is truly beautiful. I love the backdrop of the Virginia mountains in winter, the characters are lovable as well, and I love the story line. But my absolute favorite aspect of the movie is Patricia Neal as Olivia...she does a great job and is totally believable as a depression era mother from the Appalachians who is trying to keep up the Christmas spirit in her family, although she has some heavy burdens to bear. Neal's portrayal of Olivia somewhat "harder," some might say, than Michael Learned's version...but this is really why it adds that extra bit of realism (I always though Michael Learned was a bit too sugary and had the "wrong" kind of southern accent for this role.) In any case, I *highly* recommend this to put you in that Christmas mood. Truly heartwarming.
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on August 9, 2003
I could not have said it better than the fine previous review. All I would add would be to mention Jerry Goldsmith's excellent score, and to say that this is quite simply one of the finest Christmas movies ever made.It should be on everyone's Christmas viewing list. If you've never seen it, you have missed something very special.I would also point out that Paramount has been notorious for pulling this title from the market with the previous vhs releases, so I wouldn't wait to add this dvd release to your collection.
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on December 27, 2003
It all started with the Earl Hammer Jr. Novel. Then the motion picture Spencer's Mountain (1963) was released. In 1971, a teleplay by Earl Hammer Jr. was made into a tv-movie, The Homecoming--A Christmas Story (1971). In the cast is Academy Award Winner Patricia Neal (as "Olivia Walton"), Richard Thomas (as "John-Boy Walton), Edgar Bergen (without Charlie McCarthy, as "Grandpa Zebb Walton"), Ellen Corby (as "Grandma Walton"), Jon Walmsley (as "Jason"), Judy Norton-Taylor (as "Mary Ellen"), Mary Beth McDonough (as "Erin"), Eric Scott (as "Ben"), David W. Harper (as "Jim-Bob), Kami Cotler (as "Elizabeth") and Andrew Duggan (as "John Walton). Olivia Walton has heard on the radio of a bus crash. She fears her husband and father to all the children was on that bus or is somewhere. She sends John-Boy, who wants to be a writer, out in the cold of the Christmas Eve night to find his father with the help of a neighbor. This tv-movie inspired CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) to make the hgighly-acclaimed tv series The Waltons. All the children, including Richard Thomas, and Ellen Corby as the grandmother continued their roles in the tv series for many years and six reunion movies thereafter.
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on February 18, 2007
As most people know, this superb production served as a pilot for 'The Waltons' TV series. The cast (especially Patricia Neal, Ellen Corby and Edgar Bergen in a rare dramatic role but also including the kids for a change) is outstanding, and the sepia tone colour filter used in making the film bring an added dimension of realism to the Depression-era themes.

If you enjoyed 'The Waltons', you'll love this prequel. You might also want to check out the 1963 theatrical movie 'Spencer's Mountain' (with Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara), also written by Earl Hamner, which is also a sort of prequel to 'The Waltons' and quite enjoyable.
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on December 14, 2003
I can't really improve on what has already been said, but should CBS video decide to do a deluxe version of this some day with actual extras, I would like to suggest an 'audio-only' extra that would interest me: the full broadcast of the Fibber McGee & Molly show we hear snippets of in the movie as the family is gathered around the radio. But in the event that they never choose to reissue it after this year, grab it now, you won't be sorry you did.
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