Book Vs Movie: “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” (1971)
The Basis of the Waltons TV Series Started as a TV Movie!
Hamner has a fascinating career as a writer with several scripts of “The Twilight Zone” including the famous The Bewitchin’ Pool, (the very last episode of the original American series.)
He also created 80s TV nighttime soap, Falcon Crest!)
In between, he wrote the 1961 novel Spencer’s Mountain which became a movie starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara as Clay and Olivia Spencer. They play a couple living in the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming and their eldest son “Clay-Boy” is set to become the first in his family to go to college.
Ten years later he wrote, “The Homecoming” which told a similar story with a twist–the Walton family was based in the Blue Ridge mountains during the depression. The TV movie was on December 19, 1971, in the U.S. and was such a big hit–it was immediately turned into a TV series.
Hamner narrated every episode which ran for almost ten years and started the phrase “goodnight John-Boy!”
In this episode, the Margos talk about the author, his original novella, the 1971 TV movie, and try to decide which we like better. Have a listen!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
- The interesting life of Earl Hamner, Jr.
- The casting of Patricia Neal as Olivia Walton and why she was not hired for the series
- The major differences between the movie and novella
- The cast: Patricia Neal (Olivia Walton,) Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton,) Edgar Bergen (Grandpa Walton,) Dorothy Stickney (Grandma Walton, ) Cleavon Little (Hawthorne Dooley,) Andrew Duggan (Big John Walton,) and Judy Norton (Mary Ellen Walton.)
- The Homecoming trailer
- An early ad for The Homecoming
- Olivia Walton is suspicious of John-Boy
- Earl Hamner, Jr opening scene narration
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