Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Charles Boyer receives a Gift

He may not be what I expected
but he's still my son

Charles Boyer
Photograph Master Print
Happy Holidays
The Gift, from 1953, was part of the Four Star Playhouse series. You sometimes catch it on TCM on Dramatic Anthologies. Its stars are Charles Boyer and Maureen O'Sullivan as Carl and Minna Baxter. It's set at Christmastime.

The story unfolds as you watch. Carl doesn't care for Christmas, he doesn't believe in Christmas gifts. This post contains spoilers.

"I have everything I need already. I have you."

"Yes," she answers. "You have me. The question is do I have you?"

She talks about how she'd like to celebrate the holiday. He tells her, "Why don't you order yourself something nice for Christmas?"

He doesn't want to talk about their son or look at the gifts they received from him in the mail.

You can tell that Carl Baxter has been hurt somehow and that hurt comes out at Christmastime.

The head of a company, he complains about Christmas bonus checks. But he started the idea of handing out Christmas bonuses to employees.
Maureen O'Sullivan
Photograph Master Print

Throughout the movie you hear about their son and finally find that Carl Baxter's pain comes from the fact that his son did not choose to follow in his footsteps. How could he have turned out to be so different from his dad??

It's Christmas Eve. His secretary is anxious to leave work. Her husband is back from the Pacific after two years. Baxter suggests that she would be fired if she insisted on leaving early. Finally she tells him she'd rather leave early and work somewhere else.

The holidays are a time for family, a good time for repairing relationships, letting go of grudges. There are lessons about parenting, forgiveness and redemption. Being able to forgive and be forgiven, to start over new is a real gift even though it can be hard.

The Gift is the second of the two short films shown

His son became a geologist, not a businessman working in his father's company. Their son is halfway around the world. He'd refused a Christmas gift from his father, the offer of a partnership in the business. Baxter has seen everything in terms of business.

"Look what we invested in him and what are the returns? All that time and money you think you've got everything because you've got a son but you're fooling yourself. One day he's grown up and he's gone."

After leaving work, he decides to go buy something for his wife. Baxter sees his wife at a department store  bringing a bunch of kids from the orphanage to see Santa before the store closes. She's done this for the past three years.

A sales lady believes Minna is a widow and this surprises Carl. The sales lady says, “There's a loneliness about a widow that you just can't mistake. When you serve the public as long as I have you get to know people."

This has a big impact on him. The end of the movie is poignant and happy.

Maureen O'Sullivan is the mother of actress Mia Farrow*

Watching The Gift, I remembered a book I heard about recently.
Andrew Solomon's book, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity examines how parents deal with children who are very different from them. The children may have physical or emotional challenges.

Charles Boyer is now feeling free!
Original Hollywood Prints Vintage
One of A Kind Collectible

The Gift is available on different DVD sets. At least one along includes a Cavalcade of America holiday episode, The Blessed Midnight, also featuring Maureen O'Sullivan.

A boy turn to stealing for his aunt on Christmas Eve. A friend tries to set things straight.

Danny Richards Jr. was the bellboy in the movie Some Like it Hot.  Frances Bavier, who would later play Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show, is also in this movie.

Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller; Maureen O'Sullivan was Jane
11X14 Vintage Photo Silver Gelatin

Maureen O'Sullivan appeared in A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's  Court with Will Rogers in 1931. She played Jane six times, even marrying Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan in Tarzan the Ape Man, 1932.

You can catch Ms. O'Sullivan in a variety of films such as The Devil Doll (1936), the Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races (1937), A Yank at Oxford with Robert Taylor (1938), Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson (1940) and Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) where she played the mother of her real-life daughter, Mia Farrow.

A name template for wrapping paper, to cover photo board at a party. Replace "Samantha." Have a single word or name or try putting two words together, may work better than more than one word.

Charles Boyer had a long career in films. Some of his most famous were Algiers (1938) with Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr, All This, And Heaven Too with Bette Davis (1941),  Back Street (1941) with Margaret Sullavan and Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Olivia de Havilland and Paulette Goddard. He received multiple Oscar nominations including one for Fanny in 1961.

Boyer co-starred in 1944's Gaslight, directed by George Cukor. Other stars were Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. This film was famously the screen debut of Angela Lansbury who was then 18-years-old.

Sources include:
the film itself, Wikipedia, IMDB

* Cannot confirm that the child in the photo with Ms. O'Sullivan is a young Mia Farrow

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