Christmas with the Stars: Charles Bronson in Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (1991)

Eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon penned a letter that prompted perhaps the most famous newspaper editorial of all time and became the stuff of legend. Her story resonates with both young and old, rich and poor, for the message is universal. We all want to know whether reality only spans what we can see and hear, whether there are more mysterious, wonderful things beyond what our eyes can see, and little Virginia got her answer.

Last week in our series, we listened to Julie Andrews sing in the Swiss Alps, an altogether merry affair. This week, we are taking a complete 180 in terms of mood and style.

At the turn of the century in New York City, we make the acquaintance of a family of Irish immigrants. Struggling to make ends meet, they wonder how they will survive the cold and brutal winter that is already upon them. Employment is scarce, and the father (Richard Thomas) struggles to maintain the jobs that he does get. Despite their poverty, the family is held together by the love that they have for each other and are more than grateful just to be together.

On the other side of town, we meet Francis Church (Charles Bronson) who is trying to cope with the loss of his wife and child. Once a successful newspaperman, but now driven to drink away his sorrows, he falls deeper and deeper into despair. His boss and friend, Mr. Mitchell (Ed Asner) still believes in him, and nowhere is this more evident than when he gives him an assignment that will change his life.

Charles Bronson carries the emotional weight of this edition of the tale brilliantly. His intense but restrained acting style suits Frank Church, the sensitive, broken man who is a prisoner of the past.

Ed Asner’s gruff manner is perfect for the hard-nosed boss with a heart of gold. It’s fun to note that Asner played Santa in Elf (2003) and a few other times previously in his career, giving Yes, Virginia an interesting spin if you think of his role in the context of the story.

Then there is Virginia, played by Katharine Isabelle. Her Virginia is sweet, compelling, and innocent – the definition of childlike wonder.

For a television movie, I was impressed with the production design. It was well done and felt like a history lesson in itself. The plight of the immigrants is very real, and the atmosphere and tone of the time period is brought to life splendidly.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus is Christmas spirit personified. It reminds us of what is really important in life – to be thankful for the seemingly small things in life, for our loved ones, family, and friends. It reminds us that there still is magic in the world – the magic of kindness, of generosity, of love, and romance.

And perhaps most of all, that no matter what happens in life, there is always hope.

Watch Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus here:

Perfect Pairing: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

You are viewing Part 2 of my series, Christmas with the Stars: Holiday Specials on YouTube You Won’t Want to Miss. Join me as I uncover holiday gems featuring classic stars each week during the month of December!

To view the introductory post click here.

To view Part 1 of the series click here.

To view Part 3 of the series click here.

To view Part 4 of the series click here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!