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It Happened One Christmas ~ (1977) RARE | Hard-to-Find Holiday Classic ~ Marlo Thomas, Wayne Rogers, Orsen Wells, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Guest

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It Happened One Christmas ~ (1977) RARE | Hard-to-Find Holiday Classic ~ Marlo Thomas, Wayne Rogers, Orsen Wells, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Guest

It Happened One Christmas is a 1977 American made-for-television Christmas fantasy comedy film starring Marlo Thomas and Wayne Rogers which originally premiered December 11, 1977 on ABC.


The film, a gender-reversal remake of the classic It's a Wonderful Life , centers on Mary Bailey Hatch ( Marlo Thomas ), a young woman who dreams of seeing the world but is forced by circumstances to remain in her small hometown as head of the family's Building & Loan business.


It's Christmas Eve 1944 in the small town of Bedford Falls, New York. A despondent and suicidal Mary Bailey Hatch ( Marlo Thomas ) is praying for guidance on what to do about an incident no fault of her own which threatens her name and the community standing of her longtime family business, the Bailey Building and Loan, which she took over after the passing of her father.

What Mary does not know is that most in town, including her husband George Hatch ( Wayne Rogers ) and their children, are also praying for her. All the prayers are heard by Joseph, God's gatekeeper of prayers. As there are no other angels available on such a busy day, Joseph assigns Clara Oddbody ( Cloris Leachman ), angel second class (i.e. she has yet to receive her wings), to Mary's case, which he reluctantly does as Clara has never been assigned a case on her own in the two hundred years she's been in heaven for good reason.

As Clara learns about Mary's case, she sees a selfless woman who always wanted to explore the world but never did, while others around her were able to fulfill their own dreams because of her sacrifice. Mary always decided instead to do what was better for others, especially in dealing with Henry Potter ( Orson Welles ), the town's richest and power hungriest man.

When Clara begins to help Mary over this crisis, Clara believes she's come up with a way to show Mary how important her life is when Mary says that the world would have been better off if she was never born.

Main Cast

  • Marlo Thomas as Mary Bailey Hatch
  • Wayne Rogers as George Hatch
  • Orson Welles as Henry F. Potter
  • Cloris Leachman as Clara Oddbody
  • Barney Martin as Uncle Willie
  • Richard Dysart as Peter Bailey
  • Cliff Norton as Martini
  • Archie Hahn as Ernie Baker
  • Christopher Guest as Harry Bailey

The supporting cast includes:

  • C. Thomas Howell
  • Dick O'Neill
  • Doris Roberts
  • Karen Carlson
  • Gene Conforti
  • Morgan Upton
  • Robert Emhardt
  • Ceil Cabot
  • Bryan O'Byrne
  • Rita George
  • Dan Barrows
  • Med Flory
  • James E. Brodhead


Orson Welles plays the villain, Henry F. Potter. Potter was played in the original It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by Lionel Barrymore. Barrymore played the role of "Ebeneezer Scrooge" on annual broadcasts of "A Christmas Carol" on Welles' Campbell Playhouse radio show. Barrymore had to back out of the 1941 broadcast due to illness, and was replaced by Welles.

The title is a reference to on It Happened One Night (1934), and this TV movie is a remake of It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Both films were directed by Frank Capra

Year(s): 12.11.77

Format: DVD

Run time : 110m

Country: USA

Language: English

B&W/ Color: Color

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