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THE CHRISTMAS GIFT

       

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014

In addition to his singing career, John Denver dabbled in movie acting from time to time. He was never going to be a threat to Laurence Olivier, but Denver had an affable down-home persona that worked well enough for the films in which he was cast.

His best remembered film is undoubtedly "Oh, God!" (1977), but he made a number of others, mostly for television — including "The Christmas Gift," a minor charmer that aired on CBS in December 1986, and now on DVD for the first time.

Denver plays a widowed New York architect with a young daughter who travels in December to a snowbound Colorado town where he is supposed to lay the groundwork for a string of condos and a nearby ski resort to be built, which will essentially destroy the small-town ambience maintained for decades by the simple residents.

       

               John Denver, 'The Christmas Gift'

But once there he is, of course, completely won over by the locals, all of whom profess to believe in Santa Claus and have Christmas traditions they hope to continue. Denver also comes to know a family (headed by Kurtwood Smith, the dad on "That '70s Show") about to lose their ranch as the site of the proposed development.

If that's not enough, he's also attracted to a woman who works in the local post office (Jane Kaczmarek, the mother in "Malcolm in the Middle").

             

     Jane Kaczmarek, John Denver, 'The Christmas Gift'

Throw in Mary Wickes as a woman who runs a local inn (just as she does in "White Christmas") and you have a warm and amusing confection that isn't afraid to invoke church and Christmas (rather than "holiday") and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.