One Magic Christmas

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One Magic Christmas
One Magic Christmas Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhillip Borsos
Written byPhillip Borsos
Barry Healey
Thomas Meehan
Music byMichael Conway Baker
CinematographyFrank Tidy
Edited bySidney Wolinsky
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • November 22, 1985 (1985-11-22)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$13,677,222[1]

One Magic Christmas is a 1985 American/Canadian Christmas fantasy film directed by Phillip Borsos. It was released by Walt Disney Pictures and stars Mary Steenburgen and Harry Dean Stanton. It was shot in Meaford, Ontario with some scenes in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.[2]


Ginny Grainger (Steenburgen) is the mother of two children, Cal (Robbie Magwood) and Abbie (Elisabeth Harnois). Her husband, Jack (Gary Basaraba), has been out of work since June, and they have to move out of the company house by January 1. Jack fixes bikes as a hobby in the basement and hopes to give one to his children's poor friend, Molly Monaghan, for Christmas. Although he would like to open a bike shop of his own, doing so would use up all their savings, which Ginny sees as a foolish move. In order to make ends meet, she works as a cashier at a grocery store.

One night, Abbie goes across the street to the mailbox to send a letter to Santa Claus. After she mails it, Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton), an angel who has been watching the Graingers, retrieves it from the mailbox and returns it to her saying that her mother should mail it. She agrees, and as she's crossing the street to return home, a car barrels down the road towards her. Gideon stops the impending accident and allows Abbie to cross the street without incident.

The next day, the Graingers visit Jack's grandfather, Caleb. He gives the children presents: Cal a Christmas book and Abbie a snow globe of the North Pole. That night Gideon visits Abbie in her room only to learn that Ginny did not mail Abbie's letter to Santa Claus. Gideon warns Abbie that some things are going to happen tomorrow and not to be afraid. Meanwhile, Ginny and Jack are in the kitchen talking about their finances. He reiterates his desire to open a bike shop, but she feels that he should find a new job, as the time to start turning a profit from a business would be too long. Frustrated, he storms out of the house to go for a walk. She races after him to try to work things out. Ominously, all the Christmas lights begin turning off all around her, as to show that the last of the Christmas spirit has been drained from her.

The next day, Christmas Eve, Ginny gets a ride to work from a friend. While at a gas station, she sees a man named Harry Dickens trying to sell some of his possessions in order to support himself and his son, with little success. She shrugs off the situation and goes on with her day. Meanwhile, Jack, along with the children, goes to the bank to take some money out of their savings to do some Christmas shopping. He tells them to wait in the car, but Abbie leaves to visit Ginny at the grocery store across the street. Abbie informs Ginny that Jack is at the bank which causes her to storm out to stop him, only to have her boss, Herbie Conklin, see her leave and fire her. She returns Abbie to the car and enters the bank only to discover that Harry is holding it up. Jack attempts to quell the situation, but Harry impulsively shoots, and Jack collapses onto the ground. A sobbing Ginny cradles her dead husband on the ground. In a panic, Harry flees the bank and steals Jack's car with Cal and Abbie still inside. Ginny chases after him in his car, but it runs out of gas before she can catch up with him. He comes to a bridge where the police have set up a road block and tries to swerve around it, but skids off the bridge, plummeting to his death into the icy river below.

Distraught, Ginny returns home to an empty house and weeps in the bathroom. However, Caleb soon comes to the house to inform her that the kids have been found standing on the side of the road. The police believe that Harry dropped them off before the crash, when in reality Gideon rescued them from the river. When they return home, Ginny informs them that Jack has been murdered by Harry and is never coming home.

Later that night, Abbie runs away to the town's Christmas tree in hopes of finding Gideon to ask him to bring back her dad. Gideon tells her that he can't fix things like what has happened to her dad and that the only person who can bring him back is Santa Claus himself. Gideon takes Abbie to the North Pole to meet him. He informs her that he too cannot fix what has happened nor can he bring the Christmas spirit back to Ginny, but Abbie can. He then takes her through his factory (which is run by "ordinary, nice people," not elves) and retrieves an old letter that Ginny had written when she was a child. He tells her that it may hold the key to helping her mother.

Gideon returns Abbie to her house and she gives her mother the letter. She reads it and finally realizes the true meaning of Christmas: to celebrate what you have and not what you want. She walks outside to the mailbox and mails Abbie's letter. Just then, all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood come back on, Jack reappears, and Ginny hugs him much to his confusion as he is only returning from his short walk the previous night.

The next day, Ginny relives the events of that Christmas Eve with a much different attitude. She gets her boss to concede to let her take the day off so she can spend time with family. At the gas station she buys a camp stove from Harry who thanks her and wishes her a "Merry Christmas". That evening, she attends the tree lighting in the village square, happily joining the participants in singing O Christmas Tree. Later, she writes a check to Jack for the bike shop and the family delivers one to Molly. As she is about to fall asleep, she hears something downstairs and finds Santa putting presents under the tree. He then stops and looks at her and says, "Merry Christmas, Ginny." She smiles and with tear-filled eyes, finally says the words she has been unable to speak for so long: "Merry Christmas!"



The film was theatrically released in Canada and the United States on November 22, 1985. It opened in Brazil on December 18, 1985, and in Australia the following year, on November 27, 1986. It was released in Uruguay on December 12, 1986, through VHS (Montevideo), and in Japan the following year, on November 25, 1987 on VHS.[3]

The film was released in many languages with several alternate titles.

  • Bulgaria (Bulgarian title)....Една вълшебна Коледа
  • Brazil....O Natal Mágico
  • Canada (working title) (English title)....Father Christmas
  • Canada (French title)....Un drôle de Noël
  • Spain (TV title)....Navidad mágica
  • France....Un drôle de Noël
  • Spain....Navidades mágicas
  • Finland....Joulukuun kaksi päivää
  • United Kingdom (video box title)....Disney's One Magic Christmas
  • Greece (DVD title)....Kapoia magika Hristougenna
  • Greece (TV title)....Magika Hristougenna
  • Hungary....Varázslatos karácsony
  • Italy....Un magico Natale
  • Peru....Una navidad mágica
  • Poland....Czarodziejskie Boze Narodzenie
  • Portugal....Natal Mágico
  • Sweden....En förtrollad jul
  • Soviet Union (Russian title)....Волшебное Рождество
  • West Germany....Wenn Träume wahr wären

It was released on DVD in the United States (Region 1) on August 21, 2001.[4]

On December 4, 2012, Netflix released the DVD and later made it available to stream in the United States, France, and the Netherlands.[5]

Box office[edit]

One Magic Christmas grossed $2,662,241 in its opening weekend in North America, November 22–24, 1985,[2] and a domestic total of $13,677,222.[6]

Critical Response[edit]

One Magic Christmas has a 47% score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, and 70% from general audiences.[4] Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four, saying, "This is very unfortunate. What we have here is a movie with an intelligent screenplay, wonderful performances and skilful direction, but it is a tactical miscalculation from beginning to end."[7]


  1. ^ One Magic Christmas at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b c "One Magic Christmas". 22 November 1985.
  3. ^ "One Magic Christmas (1985)".
  4. ^ a b "One Magic Christmas".
  5. ^ "One Magic Christmas - Is One Magic Christmas on Netflix - FlixList".
  6. ^ "One Magic Christmas (1985) - Financial Information".
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "One Magic Christmas Movie Review (1985) - Roger Ebert".

External links[edit]