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A Christmas Wish (1950) a.k.a. "The Great Rupert" starring Jimmy Durante

A little squirrel with lots of charm accidentally helps two poor, down-but-NOT-out families overcome their obstacles.

The Great Rupert (A Christmas Wish), is a 1950 comedy family film, produced by George Pal, directed by Irving Pichel and starring Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake and Terry Moore. It is based on a story, written by Ted Allan, which has also been published as a children's book under the title "Willie the Squowse". The story revolves around a little animated squirrel who, with lots of charm, accidentally helps two economically distressed families overcome their obstacles.

Jimmy Durante as Mr. Louie Amendola Terry Moore as Rosalinda Amendola Tom Drake as Peter 'Pete' Dingle Frank Orth as Mr. Frank Dingle Sara Haden as Mrs. Katie Dingle Queenie Smith as Mrs. Amendola Chick Chandler as Phil Davis Jimmy Conlin as Joe Mahoney Rupert as Himself the Squirrel Hugh Sanders as Mulligan Don Beddoe as Mr. Haggerty Candy Candido as Molineri - Florist Clancy Cooper as Police Lt. Saunders Harold Goodwin as Callahan - F.B.I. Man Frank Cady as Mr. Taney - Tax Investigator Lester Dorr ... Eddie, the Bartender Kenner G. Kemp ... Passerby in Park Frank Marlowe ... Dave the Mailman Torben Meyer ... Mr. Petrushka the Baker Ralph Montgomery ... Fireman Irving Pichel ... Puzzled Pedestrian Harry Strang ... Fire Chief

James Francis "Jimmy" Durante (February 10, 1893 -- January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian, and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, comic language butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and large nose helped make him one of America's most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s. His jokes about his nose included referring to it as a "Schnozzola", and the word became his nickname.

Durante became a vaudeville star and radio personality by the mid-1920s, with a trio called Clayton, Jackson and Durante. Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson, Durante's closest friends, often reunited professionally.

By 1934, he had a major record hit with his own novelty composition, "Inka Dinka Doo". It became his theme song for the rest of his life. A year later, Durante starred on Broadway in the Billy Rose stage musical Jumbo, in which a police officer stopped him while leading a live elephant and asked him, "What are you doing with that elephant?" Durante's reply, "What elephant?" was a regular show-stopper. This comedy bit, also reprised in his role in Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962, based on the 1935 musical) is likely to have contributed to the popularity of the idiom the elephant in the room. Durante also appeared on Broadway in Show Girl (1929), Strike Me Pink (1934) and Red, Hot and Blue (1936).

He began appearing in motion pictures in a comedy series pairing him with silent film legend Buster Keaton and continuing with The Wet Parade (1932), Broadway to Hollywood (1933), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, playing "Banjo", a character based on Harpo Marx), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962, based on the 1935 musical) and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

Jimmy Durante is known to most modern audiences as the character who narrated and sang the 1969 animated special Frosty the Snowman. There are numerous Durante depictions and allusions in animation. Many 1940s Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons had characters based on Durante.

George Pal's stop-motion animation used in creating the illusion of a dancing squirrel (Rupert) was so realistic that he received many inquiries as to where he located a trained squirrel.

In 2003, 20th Century Fox and Legend Films revived the (now) public domain film with a colorized special edition of the film, under the title A Christmas Wish. For that release, Terry Moore provided an audio commentary track.

George Pal .... producer Original Music by Leith Stevens Cinematography by Lionel Lindon Film Editing by Duke Goldstone Production Design by Ernst Fegté Set Decoration by Joseph Kish Flora James .... hair stylist Harry Ray .... makeup artist Lewis J. Rachmil .... production supervisor Harold Godsoe .... assistant director William H. Lynch .... sound Barry B. Sandrew .... visual effects producer Maurice Goldberg .... still photographer B.P. Jacques .... grip Stanley Williams .... gaffer Lothrop B. Worth .... camera operator Fred Madison .... animator: "Rupert" Helen Rachmil .... costume stylist Buddy Kaye .... songs Fred Spielman .... songs Clarence Wheeler .... orchestrator John S. Abbott .... technical supervisor Miles E. Pike .... technician Curly Twiford .... animal trainer Giby Whitlock .... script supervisor


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