This movie is a delight, filled with joy and the spirit of Christmas. This is despite a man’s doubts in the beginning of the story. Starring Bruce Cabot (who starred in the original King Kong), he plays Michael Sweeney, a newspaper reporter who has seen it all. He has covered the beat on, as he says, “suicide, homicide, and violence.” He stops at Andy’s Lunch Emporium, where, as Andy says himself, “the food will never hurt you!”
Despite having made a donation to four boys who were singing Noel outside the diner, Sweeney is upset as he just learned of a man who was found half-starved nearby. He can’t help but wonder, does Christmas Eve and Christmas itself make a difference in people’s lives?
Written by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone), this powerful and touching short film shows a man that cares but is wondering if anyone else does. For example, a man he is friendly with, “Pop”, stops in at the diner. He’s blind and sells pencils to help him make a living. He needs $1,500 for an operation that could restore his sight. The problem? He doesn’t have $1,500. This bothers Sweeney and Pop tells him, “You’ve always been a good boy. That’s why people around here like you.” Unlike Scrooge, Sweeney isn’t selfish or greedy.
Later, a friend he’s known for a long time, Pete, and his girlfriend Marge, drop in. They would like to get married but they don’t have enough money yet to buy furniture and to tie the knot. “You’re the only one I know who is really doing what he wants,” Pete tells Sweeney, referring to his newspaper reporting. Sweeney tells him he really wanted to write the great American novel instead of news items on “the rapid decline of the human race.” Sweeney tells Pete that he covers suicides, homicides, and violence, and then sings the blues to Andy every Christmas Eve.
Andy receives a call from a worried wife, telling him that his son isn’t feeling well, so he temporarily heads home to check on the boy, asking Sweeney to watch the diner for a short while. Before he leaves, Andy tells Sweeney that Sweeney always appreciates seeing a good smile, and that a smile on him would look especially good. He knows Sweeney is a bit down regarding the world and the lack that many people face. After Andy departs, a man enters the diner, bent on ordering coffee and cubed steak along with some “spuds, and green beans.” Sweeney tells him he can provide the coffee but will have to wait for Andy to return to make the meal. The man explodes, is belligerent, and threatens Sweeney. Sweeney belts him and an officer races in, and arrests the man, knowing that Sweeney is a good guy. The man leaves behind a ton of cash in his wallet and Sweeney plans to put it to good use by helping his friends out!
Sure enough Sweeney and Andy put on a Christmas Eve party at the diner, and Sweeney hands his various friends money to help them out. For example, he hands Pop $1,500 for his operation to restore his sight. He gives Pete and Marge $1,000 so they can get a ring, buy furniture, and be married. He also helps a man with money for an overcoat, buys an orchid for a lady who loves them, and is about to offer Officer Riley $50 for his family and him to have a nice Christmas dinner when the officer lets him know the money is counterfeit!
Sweeney goes down to the police station to answer some questions, but he feels guilty and embarrassed that he couldn’t help his friends after all. But when they tell him later that it is his friendship that makes it Christmas for them, Sweeney finally begins to understand what Christmas is all about-and that, “We’re to pass the light on.” Fittingly, the boys outside the diner sing, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
This is a fantastic vintage movie that holds up well and merits our Dove seal for All ages.
The Dove Take
The Spirit of Christmas shines in this movie and this is a great watch not only during the holiday season, but at any time!