Christmas with the Stars: Jimmy Stewart in The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show (1972)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to week three of my Christmas with the Stars Series. I’ve really enjoyed sharing these finds with you over the past few weeks. I can’t believe we are already halfway through the series, but fear not, there are still more goodies to be found, and this one is a pinch hitter!

This week, I bring you not one, not two, but three stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age! Julie Andrews is back, (we kicked off the series with her marvelous The Sound of Christmas) accompanied by Jimmy Stewart as her special guest! Musical star Dan Dailey completes our merry trio with a brief solo number.

Dan Dailey, Julie Andrews, & Jimmy Stewart – Screenshots by me.

The show opens when after Julie’s introduction and jubilant opening number, “We Need a Little Christmas,” Julie and Jimmy make a deal that they will show each other what Christmas is like in their respective countries.

The merrymaking begins with Julie’s old fashioned English Christmas as the company sings traditional English carols, while the setting is like a page of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” come to life. The segment culminates with a goose dinner and a rendition of Dickens’ beloved tale with impressionist Rich Little playing Jack Benny as the miserly Scrooge and Alice Ghostley as Cratchit.

As we transition over to Jimmy’s small town American Christmas, Julie flies in a sleigh over the rooftops of a city then lands on a rooftop and dances with eight Santas! The tone, setting, and choreography of this fun segment reminds me of Mary Poppins and the “Step in Time” number.

Julie Andrews, Jimmy Stewart, & Rich Little

In America, we meet Jimmy’s nephew, Rich Stewart, played by Rich Little. Little impersonating Jimmy is hilarious, but even better is Jimmy’s reaction to this. He is so gracious and is able to laugh at himself and have a good time with it.

The cast sings “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to reflect the musical style of twentieth century America. The American version of Dickens’ tale plays out with Little reprising his role and Jimmy as Crachit. The segment culminates with a turkey dinner and Jimmy saying a prayer for peace at the dinner table.

In addition to Julie Andrews’ beautiful, emotive voice, I greatly enjoyed seeing Jimmy Stewart singing and enjoying himself on this program. His warm presence is definitely evident here, adding to the already wonderful watch.

It is a ridiculous understatement to say that Jimmy and Julie are wonderful together, but I don’t know how else to say it. Together, they encapsulate the joy of the season, spreading warmth and good cheer, but they also underscore the sacred, serious moments as well.

How this show remains hidden is beyond me. With stars of this caliber, it should be considered a classic and aired on television every year! Thank goodness for YouTube!

(Maybe that should have been the title of my series instead…)

“The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show” is absolutely delightful and should be required viewing for fans of Jimmy or Julie and for those who love the music and spirit of Christmastime.

Note: This show also contains a number of famous entertainers of the time such as Joel Grey, Cass Elliott, Carl Reiner, Steve Lawrence, and Sergio Franchi. The original commercials are also included in the video.

Watch “The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show” here:

Perfect Pairing: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

You are viewing Part 3 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 2 of the series click here.

To view Part 4 of the series click here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

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!

Christmas with the Stars: Julie Andrews in The Sound of Christmas (1987)

It is always fun discovering new Christmas films to add to your line up of holiday viewing, but there’s always something special about coming back to the movies that you’ve been watching every year since you were a youngster. Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas is one of those for me. It was videotaped by my parents and became one that we watched as a family until the tape was lost or had broken…I can’t remember which! Thanks to YouTube, I was able to rediscover this television special all over again and restore it to it’s rightful place as one of my holiday traditions. I’m so glad to be sharing it with you today.

One of the most exciting aspects of The Sound of Christmas is that the production team returned to the gorgeous Swiss Alps and the city of Salzburg richly steeped in musical history, capturing Julie once again singing with the glorious hills all around her. You guessed it…this is where 20th Century Fox filmed The Sound of Music (1965).

The comical acapella group, The King’s Singers, country singer John Denver, and the operatic tenor Placido Domingo join Julie in this musical extravaganza giving the special a wide-ranging menu and appeal. The score is peppered with the carols that we all know and love, but there are also songs by musical theater greats including the Gershwins, Lerner and Loewe, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

From an enchanting Christmas ball, to a skiing John Denver, to a grand concert in a cathedral, this special has something for everyone. My favorite scene is the Christmas ball when Domingo and Denver are suitors vying for Julie’s hand. (At the moment, Domingo is winning.)

I hope that you can tell from the pictures (despite the fuzziness) how beautifully filmed this special is. The cinematography is so well done and fully takes advantage of the frosty Austrian landscape and surroundings, becoming a part of the action that takes place, just as in The Sound of Music.

The special climaxes with a grand concert inside of St. Michael’s Church in Mondsee where Julie as Maria married Captain von Trapp. From the looks of it, this is a bonafide concert with what appear to be locals filling the seats. The three stars take center stage supported by The King’s Singers and a full choir, providing the ultimate Christmas concert and finale to the program.

In 1988, Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas garnered five Emmy awards and Dwight Hemion, the director, also won a Director’s Guild of America award. Not bad for a Christmas special!

The hills are alive with the sound of Christmas, and so will your heart be this season as you watch Julie in her element spreading her special brand of holiday cheer.

Watch Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas here:

Perfect Pairing: The Sound of Music (1965)

You are viewing Part 1 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 2 of the series click here.

To view Part 3 of the series click here.

To view Part 4 of the series click here.

This post is my contribution to The Happy Holidays Blogathon hosted by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. PEPS, thank you for letting me take part in this festive event! You can read the other entries celebrating the joy of the season here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

Announcing Christmas with the Stars: Holiday Specials on YouTube You Won't Want to Miss

White Christmas. Holiday Inn. It’s a Wonderful Life. This trio stands steadfastly as the cornerstone of holiday viewing, and rightly so; however, I do feel that the television works of our favorite stars often get overlooked. Thanks to technology (looking at you, YouTube) we can see the stars and appreciate them in a different way than ever before.

Join me each week in December as I uncover holiday gems that have been hiding in the annals of television history!

From heartwarming dramas to celebrations of the season in song, these specials are sure to make your holiday shine a little brighter.

So pour yourself some eggnog, light the fire, get cozy, and join me for Christmas with the Stars.

Christmas with the Stars: Complete Listing

Part 1 – Julie Andrews in The Sound of Christmas (1987)

Part 2 – Charles Bronson in Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (1991)

Part 3 – Jimmy Stewart in “The Julie Andrews Hour Christmas Show” (1972)

Part 4 – Fred Astaire in The Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979)