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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Homecoming (1971)

Set on Christmas Eve during the 1933 depression, a poor Virginia mountain woman (Patricia Neal) and her children await the arrival of the father (Andrew Duggan) who, because of a lack of jobs, works 50 miles away and must make his way home for Christmas through terrible weather conditions. But as the evening falls, he still isn't home and she begins to worry. Loosely based on the Earl Hamner Jr. novel SPENCER'S MOUNTAIN (previously filmed in 1963) and later adapted into the popular television series THE WALTONS. I never watched THE WALTONS but I certainly hope the show was better than this. It's all sentimentally country folksy and doesn't come across as real at all. In addition, the film is saddled with a roster of horrid child actors playing artificial children, the kind of youngsters that exist in only in the movies and not real life. The best part of the film is a visit by Richard Thomas and Cleavon Little on Christmas Eve to a pair of eccentric spinsters beautifully played by Josephine Hutchinson and Dorothy Stickney. Directed by Fiedler Cook and there's a lovely muted score by Jerry Goldsmith. With Edgar Bergen, Ellen Corby (who like Richard Thomas would go on to do THE WALTONS) and William Windom.

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