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HISTORY

       Referring to the picture as Father Christmas, the 6 Apr 1983 Var announced the film would star Richard Farnsworth , and begin shooting in British Columbia, Canada, in Dec 1983. According to the 9 Sep 1983 HR, the $9--10 million project had an anticipated Jan or Feb 1984 start date, and a “commitment” from Zoetrope Studios to finance the film. The 25 Jan 1984 Var reported a 26 Feb 1984 start date and inaccurately referred to the film as a “comedy,” while the 26 May 1984 Screen International announced Orion Pictures would be producing the film, and that shooting was rescheduled for fall of 1984, in Toronto, Canada. However, principal photography did not begin until 11 Feb 1985, in Toronto, Canada, according to the 13 Feb 1985 Var.
       The 14 Apr 1985 LAT reported the year-long delay was due to problems involving financing, resulting in a scaling down of the budget from $9 million to $7.5 million. According to the 20 Feb 1985 DV, Walt Disney Pictures would supply two-thirds of the budget, and Telefilm Canada’s Broadcast Fund would supply the remaining one-third. The 10 Jul 1985 HR confirmed that Walt Disney supplied $5.5 million in financing.
       According to the 1 Dec 1985 Daily News, the idea for the picture originated in 1976 when director Phillip Borsos wrote a one-page story idea. He later co-wrote a first draft with Barry Healey, but the script was reportedly turned down by every Hollywood studio, although his efforts secured the commitments of actress Mary Steenburgen, ... More Less

       Referring to the picture as Father Christmas, the 6 Apr 1983 Var announced the film would star Richard Farnsworth , and begin shooting in British Columbia, Canada, in Dec 1983. According to the 9 Sep 1983 HR, the $9--10 million project had an anticipated Jan or Feb 1984 start date, and a “commitment” from Zoetrope Studios to finance the film. The 25 Jan 1984 Var reported a 26 Feb 1984 start date and inaccurately referred to the film as a “comedy,” while the 26 May 1984 Screen International announced Orion Pictures would be producing the film, and that shooting was rescheduled for fall of 1984, in Toronto, Canada. However, principal photography did not begin until 11 Feb 1985, in Toronto, Canada, according to the 13 Feb 1985 Var.
       The 14 Apr 1985 LAT reported the year-long delay was due to problems involving financing, resulting in a scaling down of the budget from $9 million to $7.5 million. According to the 20 Feb 1985 DV, Walt Disney Pictures would supply two-thirds of the budget, and Telefilm Canada’s Broadcast Fund would supply the remaining one-third. The 10 Jul 1985 HR confirmed that Walt Disney supplied $5.5 million in financing.
       According to the 1 Dec 1985 Daily News, the idea for the picture originated in 1976 when director Phillip Borsos wrote a one-page story idea. He later co-wrote a first draft with Barry Healey, but the script was reportedly turned down by every Hollywood studio, although his efforts secured the commitments of actress Mary Steenburgen, and producer Fred Roos. Daily News reported that Roos hired writer Tom Meehan to rewrite the script and add dialogue, and the new screenplay garnered interest from every studio.
       The 5 Mar 1985 HR reported that Harry Dean Stanton would be taking over the role of “Gideon” originally intended for Richard Farnsworth , and announced an eight-week shooting schedule with locations in Ontario, Canada, and at the Magder Studios in Toronto.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, 300 locals served as background actors for a shopping mall scene, filmed in Feb 1985, and fifty shopkeepers agreed to replace their Valentine’s Day decorations with Christmas decorations for the scene. Additionally, residents on a street in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough decorated their homes with Christmas lights for the production. Snow had to be brought in by trucks, following an unseasonable thaw. Reportedly, five tons of snow were brought in from surrounding areas in more than 100 dump truck loads over a four-day period. Ironically, a blizzard blew in days later, and crew members had to remove the excess snow. Sleet, rain, fog, mud, and wind gusts up to fifty miles per hour made filming a challenge. The Toronto post office supplied 20,000 actual letters to Santa Claus for the scene at Santa’s workshop. Principal photography was completed 10 Apr 1985.
       The 10 Jul 1985 HR reported a title change to One Night Before Christmas. The 28 Aug 1985 Var, announced an anticipated opening date of 22 Nov 1985, and also noted the final re-title, One Magic Christmas.
       Box-office totals were $7.8 million from the first ten days of release, according to the Feb 1986 Box. Reviews noted the grim storyline, but preferred the “charming,” “bittersweet” picture over its holiday competition, Santa Claus (1985, see entry).
      End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Filmed on location in Scarborough, Meaford, and Owen Sound, Ontario and at the Meaford branch of the Bank of Montreal. Producers especially wish to thank the residents of Ellendale and Van Kirk Avenues, Scarborough, Ontario.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Feb 1986
Section R, p. 23.
Daily News
1 Dec 1985.
---
Daily Variety
20 Feb 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1983
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1985
p. 3, 17.
Los Angeles Times
14 Apr 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Nov 1985
p. 17.
New York Times
22 Nov 1985
p. 14.
Screen International
26 May 1984.
---
Variety
6 Apr 1983.
---
Variety
25 Jan 1984.
---
Variety
13 Feb 1985.
---
Variety
28 Aug 1985.
---
Variety
20 Nov 1985
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures Presents
A Peter O'Brian Production in association with Fred Roos
A Phillip Borsos Film
Produced in association with Silver Screen Partners II
And Telefilm Canada
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam op
2d unit asst cam
2d unit asst cam
Trainee asst cam
Trainee asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Best boy grip
Stills photog
Aerial crane and Omni Mount platform supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Prod illustrator
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst picture ed
Asst picture ed
Asst picture ed
Asst picture ed
Asst picture ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Propsman
Const supv
Head painter
Standby painter
Head carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward mistress
Ward dresser
Ward dresser
MUSIC
Score orch, cond and prod by
Score rec at
SOUND
Sd des by
Prod sd rec
Prod sd rec
Dial ed
A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff rec
Sd eff rec
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Tech eff consultant
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup des by
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
L.A. casting by
L.A. casting by
New York casting by
Prod exec
Prod assoc
Unit loc mgr
2d unit loc mgr
Prod asst
Prod coord
Post prod coord
Exec coord
Exec asst
Prod accounting
Prod accounting
Prod consultant
Dial coach
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Addl casting
Extras casting
Animals supplied by
Animal trainer
Animal master
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Thebis tricycle courtesy of
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
SONGS
"Sleigh Ride," words by Mitchell Parish, music by Leroy Anderson, Mills Music Inc., performed by "The Ronettes," courtesy of Spector International, Inc.
"Stop! In The Name Of Love," words and music by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, Jobete Music Company, Inc., performed by Vivian Williams, Yvonne Murray and Bobbie Lee Davenport
"Lost In The Stars," words by Maxwell Anderson, music by Kurt Wiell, Chappell & Co., Inc. and Richmond Organization
+
SONGS
"Sleigh Ride," words by Mitchell Parish, music by Leroy Anderson, Mills Music Inc., performed by "The Ronettes," courtesy of Spector International, Inc.
"Stop! In The Name Of Love," words and music by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, Jobete Music Company, Inc., performed by Vivian Williams, Yvonne Murray and Bobbie Lee Davenport
"Lost In The Stars," words by Maxwell Anderson, music by Kurt Wiell, Chappell & Co., Inc. and Richmond Organization
"I'll Be Home For Christmas," words by Kim Gannon, music by Walter Kent, Gannon and Kent Music Company, performed by Michael Dees.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Father Christmas
One Night Before Christmas
Release Date:
22 November 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 November 1985
Production Date:
11 February--10 April 1985
Copyright Claimant:
North Pole Company of Canada, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 November 1985
Copyright Number:
PA267201
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27959
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Gideon, a Christmas angel, gets an assignment from Saint Nicholas to help Ginny Grainger find her Christmas spirit. Ginny’s husband, Jack, lost his job at Continental Radio months before, and the family, including children Cal and Abbie, are being forced to move out of their company-owned house. Jack builds a bicycle for a needy neighborhood girl named Molly Monaghan, and tells his friend Eddie that his dream is to own his own bike shop. However, he does not have the $5,000 needed to start the business. Gideon arrives in the town of Medford and saves Cal and Abbie from being hit by a hockey puck. Sometime later, Gideon watches Ginny at the grocery store where she works as a checkout clerk. Elsewhere, Jack helps decorate the town Christmas tree. Abbie asks her father if he believes in angels, and he tells her they are invisible. She worries that Santa Claus will not visit them because she forgot to send him a letter, but her older brother, Cal, knows the real reason they may not get many presents is because their parents do not have much money. When Abbie sneaks out with her letter to Santa, Gideon magically extracts the letter from the mailbox, and tells her he is an angel. Abbie asks if he was a good person who died, and Gideon tells her he died while saving a child from drowning, and afterward was made a Christmas angel. When Ginny discovers that Abbie is not in her bed, she looks out the window to see Abbie nearly run over by a car. Gideon uses his powers ... +


Gideon, a Christmas angel, gets an assignment from Saint Nicholas to help Ginny Grainger find her Christmas spirit. Ginny’s husband, Jack, lost his job at Continental Radio months before, and the family, including children Cal and Abbie, are being forced to move out of their company-owned house. Jack builds a bicycle for a needy neighborhood girl named Molly Monaghan, and tells his friend Eddie that his dream is to own his own bike shop. However, he does not have the $5,000 needed to start the business. Gideon arrives in the town of Medford and saves Cal and Abbie from being hit by a hockey puck. Sometime later, Gideon watches Ginny at the grocery store where she works as a checkout clerk. Elsewhere, Jack helps decorate the town Christmas tree. Abbie asks her father if he believes in angels, and he tells her they are invisible. She worries that Santa Claus will not visit them because she forgot to send him a letter, but her older brother, Cal, knows the real reason they may not get many presents is because their parents do not have much money. When Abbie sneaks out with her letter to Santa, Gideon magically extracts the letter from the mailbox, and tells her he is an angel. Abbie asks if he was a good person who died, and Gideon tells her he died while saving a child from drowning, and afterward was made a Christmas angel. When Ginny discovers that Abbie is not in her bed, she looks out the window to see Abbie nearly run over by a car. Gideon uses his powers to save the girl, and Abbie tells her mother that an angel saved her, but Ginny dismisses the story. Sometime later, Gideon visits Abbie in her bedroom and fixes a broken snow globe, but says he cannot fix Ginny’s broken spirit on his own, and asks Abbie to help him. Elsewhere, Ginny tells Jack to give up his bicycle shop dream and get a regular job. Jack goes outside, upset, and Ginny follows to apologize. As they walk, she shares her financial worries, and wonders aloud what she has to live for. Later, Gideon greets Ginny on the street, and surprises her by knowing her name. In time, Jack leaves his children in the car while he goes into a bank. Abbie gets out and goes into the nearby grocery store where her mother works. Ginny learns that Jack is at the bank, and fears he is applying for a small business loan against her wishes. She leaves her checkout post to stop him, and her boss, Herbie Conklin, fires her. Meanwhile, at the bank, a down-on-his-luck father named Harry Dickens, holds a teller at gunpoint and demands money. Jack tries to stop him and is shot dead, and Ginny runs to his side. Outside, the gunman drives away in Jack’s car, with Cal and Abbie inside. Ginny races after them in her own car. During the pursuit, her car breaks down, but a police car catches up, and Ginny gets inside. At a police blockade, Harry crashes the car, causing it to go over a bridge into an icy river. Ginny runs down the embankment, but her children do not surface. She returns to her empty home and weeps. Meanwhile, Gideon gathers Cal and Abbie from the riverside, and Ginny gets word her children are alive. After embracing them, she tells them their father has died. Sometime later, Abbie sneaks away to ask Gideon for help. When Cal tells his mother that Abbie went to search for an angel, Ginny chases after her. Gideon uses his powers to take Abbie to the North Pole to see Santa Claus and ask him to bring her father back. Santa Claus tells Abbie that he cannot bring Jack back, but explains that Ginny might do so. He takes Abbie to his toy shop and gives her the letter Ginny wrote him as a child, and asks Abbie to give it to her mother. Abbie returns home, and Cal and Ginny do not believe she has been to see Santa Claus. Abbie gives her mother the childhood letter, and Ginny is stunned. Her spirit renewed, Ginny mails a letter that Abbie wrote Santa, and sees Gideon near the mailbox. She smiles at him, and as he walks away, the houses on the street light up with Christmas lights. Jack appears in the distance, and walks toward her. Ginny embraces Jack, who has no recollection of being dead, as time has magically reversed to the day before the shooting. Reliving Christmas Eve, Ginny decides to stay home from work to spend the day with her family. At a gas station, Ginny sees Harry Dickens, the would-be bank robber, as he tries to sell a camp stove for money. She offers him $50 for it, preventing him from robbing the bank. Ginny reports to work and tells her boss, Herbie, that she is going to spend the day with her family, even if it means she loses her job. Herbie lets her leave with no consequences, and she kisses him on the cheek. That evening, the Graingers deliver the bicycle Jack built to Molly Monaghan, and attend the town Christmas tree lighting, which Jack secretly funded. Later, Ginny writes Jack a check for $5,000 for his bicycle shop, and leaves it in the Christmas tree. Cal and Abbie hear Santa Claus on the roof, and Cal finally believes he is real. Ginny sees Santa putting presents under the tree, and wishes him a Merry Christmas. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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