'The House Without a Christmas Tree'
(Jason Robards, Mildred Natwick, et al / DVD / NR / (1972) 2007 / Paramount)
Overview: A young girl named Addie, living in Nebraska in 1946 wants nothing more for the holidays than a Christmas tree, but her widowed father (Jason Robards), is bitter and refuses due to events from the family's past.
DVD Verdict: Thank God this is finally on DVD! I have been so worried about my VHS copy would deteriorate pretty soon after all these years! It is 1946 in the small town of Clear River, Nebraska, and Addie Mills, the lively, intelligent and artistic daughter of widower James Mills, who is being raised by her grandmother because her mother died shortly after she was born, once again broaches the idea of having a Christmas tree. Her father, who has remained withdrawn and embittered in the long years since her mother's death, as always fobs her off. Then Addie wins the classroom Christmas tree and takes it home.
This wonderful story was filmed and first broadcast in 1972 and shown on CBS. It was produced on videotape, which takes away a bit of the magic. However, it also makes you feel as if you are eavesdropping on this family, as if they were participants in a reality series. Lisa Lucas is splendid as the articulate Addie and Mildred Natwick is a charming grandma, but major kudos go to Jason Robards in the role of Addie's father. He could have been portrayed as a soulless tyrant but is revealed to be a desperately grieving and unhappy man instead.
The "look" of this special contributes to its appeal; the clothing, the sets, the classroom situation all makes you feel as if you are truly back in 1946. Paramount Video needs to release the three sequels as well; THANKSGIVING TREASURE is particularly good, and the fourth story, ADDIE AND THE KING OF HEARTS, has never been released to video at all. It sells on bootleg sites for quite a lot these days so, come on Paramount! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but does not come with any Special Features.