Friday, December 20, 2013

 As I stated in the last movie review, I was disappointed to see that most of the films this year during the Christmas Season are not very friendly toward families.  So I have chosen to do some of the Christmas movies available on DVD, most of which have been made by friends of ours. 

We are honored to review Christmas for a Dollar, directed by John Lyde.

Also, as I said last week, many Christmas films of this nature have a solid formula, many based on true stories focused on helping souls through the holidays.  Christmas for a Dollar is one of these films.

The story takes place during the depression.  The Kamp family is plagued with challenges that started with the passing of the mother, leaving father William Kamp (Brian Krause, known for his role in the TV show Charmed) to make due with his 5 children.  He does this with a stern attitude of self-reliance to an almost negative degree. 

Meanwhile, the family is very poor due to the doctor bills from the youngest son’s polio.  And with Christmas approaching, the father makes it clear that there won’t be much of a Christmas.  But eventually, the father drums up enough pennies to make a dollar, which pretty much pays for their Christmas.  The father reminds the family of the story of Christ when he fed 5000 with the limited fish and loaves of bread.

The film follows the youngest boy, Norman  (Jacob Buster), an adventurous boy who consistently gets into trouble due to his limiting use of his leg and arm because of polio. 

He constantly trespasses a neighbors yard, to watch a horse, dreaming of one day being able to ride one.  While sneaking into the horses stable, he accidentally leaves the door open and the horse gets out, hurting his leg.  The owner of the horse, Mrs. Rathbone (Nancy Stafford) decides to put the horse down, but Norman convinces her to try and keep the horse alive and that he would help in the barn.

In the meantime, the new teacher at school Miss Mayfield (Heather Beers) challenges the students to do good deeds and when they do, they put marbles in a basket every time.  This becomes a lesson of honesty for the children. 

Other events lead up to a Christmas that the family and the neighborhood will not forget (you have to purchase the film to see the rest).

The film does have flaws that are consistent with low-budget filmmaking, certain lines of dialogue, a few moments of acting imperfections, adapting to the time-frame with costume and set design.  But these are things that most viewers will not see.  For myself, by the climax, those flaws are long forgotten because of the heart-warming story. 

I do wonder about the two scenes toward the beginning of the film where Norman dreams of being in the old west, if those are really part of the story or just a chance to add a different tension to the film. (I know the director and he loves to do action, and he does it pretty well on a budget) They just seemed out of place for me. 

The cast is great and the story is great.  Go purchase the film and make it part of your annual Christmas viewing.   Rated PG for some bullying…it doesn’t say that, but it does say “for mean behavior”.  (I would love to rate some kids behavior today myself.)


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