Rupert is the world’s greatest entertainer, according to his trainer. He may be a squirrel, but he sure can dance, and can also jump rope! “He taps his little toe, and steals the show, and takes your heart along…” but not the hearts of many, as it turns out. Rupert and his trainer are struggling, and unable to pay their rent, they are kicked out of their shabby apartment.
One man’s loss is another’s gain. When Rupert loses his home, the Amendolas – Louie (Jimmy Durante), Mrs. (Queenie Smith), and Rosalinda (Terry Moore), a family acrobat trio – are able to scrape together the money to move in.
The Amendolas are down on their luck, but things may change for them thanks to Rupert, who sneaks back into the apartment to live in the rafters.
A Christmas Wish, also known as The Great Rupert, was directed by Irving Pichel.
I must begin my review of this film by doing the unthinkable: speaking positively about a colorized DVD. Okay, maybe not positively, but the colorized DVD release under the title of A Christmas Wish is quite well-done in comparison to other releases (like the horrendously orange-skinned I Dream of Jeannie colorization. Would I still prefer to watch the film in black and white? Of course. But this DVD release is certainly watchable.
Now, about the film itself. A Christmas Wish is sweet, sort of a rags-to-riches tale. *MILD SPOILERS* The Amendolas are gifted with money falling from the ceiling, but they use those riches to help others (i.e. spending thousands of dollars on shoes for children). The money is thrown down from a hiding place in the wall by Rupert, but the family thinks it is coming from God, since it falls after Mrs. Amendola prays for new shoes for Rosalinda. *END SPOILERS* It’s a perfectly heartwarming tale for the holiday season.
Jimmy Durante is very lovable as the punny patriarch of the Amendola family, a struggling human pyramid circus act. On top of nailing the somewhat-goofy dad role, he gets to sing a few delightful holiday tunes.
Also on the positive is the romance between Terry Moore’s character of Rosalinda and Tom Drake’s character, the son of the money-grubbing landlord couple in ownership of the Amendolas’ new apartment. They make an adorable pair.
With good performances and a nice story, A Christmas Wish (or The Great Rupert) easily finds its place among the canon of holiday classics.