After the family Christmas Eve activities were over, I wanted to watch a Christmas movie before bed. I selected A Christmas Memory, which was available for streaming. I had high expectations going into this film because as a child I had seen and loved a TV version of this story that starred Geraldine Page. This remake was expanded into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Patty Duke. Both versions of A Christmas Memory are based on a story by Truman Capote, which I really need to read.
In A Christmas Memory, young Buddy (adequately portrayed by Eric Lloyd) has been living with some elderly cousins in the Depression-era South for awhile. He has formed a strong attachment with cousin Sook (expertly played by Duke) and the two are nearly inseparable. They bring light and joy into each other's lives, and have great fun together whether it's making fruitcakes for people they barely know or finding a Christmas tree and decorating it with homemade decorations. Sook is a child-like old woman, totally dependent on her sisters (played by Piper Laurie and Anita Gillette) for her support, yet she has great love for Buddy and tries to teach him about life. However, Sook and Buddy get drunk on the whiskey left over from making the fruitcakes, and Laurie's character decrees that for Buddy's good he needs to be sent to military school after Christmas.
Glenn Jordan directed this movie, and he directed some really good TV movies over the years. In fact, he has won 3 Emmys and been nominated for a few more. This effort was not one of his best.
A Christmas Memory is really a paint-by-the-numbers TV movie full of schmaltz. The ending cuts down the sentiment factor somewhat, as things end differently than I anticipated. Duke is an excellent actress and I wish she had been given more and better roles over the years. I really took her Sook character to heart, but then I guess that's what Christmas movies are meant to do. In the Christmas spirit, I'll give A Christmas Memory a B, though I think most episodes of The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie are better than this movie. In my memory, the old version of this story starring Geraldine Page was a lot better, but I don't see it available online in any of the usual places.
Watched alone via Netflix streaming on December 24-25, 2012.