"This is going to be short. Quality = terrible. Sound = terrible. This transfer to DVD looks like a very used VHS tape that was in EP mode when transferred. This should be a CRIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an insult! I couldn't even finish the movie it was so terrible."
Okay Drama Badly copied on DVD
Jeffrey Compton | Forest Hills, NY USA | 11/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sitting through "A Christmas Without Snow" can be an enjoyable afternoon especially watching Michael Learned (Mama Walton) and John Houseman (Professor Kingfield) give their stock performances. The main plot line is okay, except that there are far too many subplots, many of which are totally forgotten by the end. There are also logistical problems in the story (Her son sends her Kindergarten level paintings, when he is a smart 10-year old.)
However, the portrayal of the amateur choir, especially the technicalities of singing are well done.
My biggest problem is the quality of the DVD - it is obviously just a cheap copy of the tape."
"Kingsfield" in season
couchbum | 04/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Houseman is NOT Professor Kingsfield, in this seasonal film about a choir rehearsing "The Messiah", but all the signs are there. Houseman's award-winning role as the sharp, brutish law school professor in "The Paper Chase" is revived in a modified format, this time as a retired conductor trying to inject professionalism into an amateur choir group.The familiar rumble, the stern withering look as his pupils stumble with unfamiliar concepts might have been transposed directly from the "Paper Chase"s larger than life character. In the end however Ephraim/Kingsfield has the desired effect as his charges rally to his aid and perform Handel's oratorio with gusto.As befitting a seasonal film "A Christmas Without Snow" gets an annual airing, at least on Australian television, and is one of the rare seasonal films to project its characters as three dimensional. Michael Learned is particularly adept in her role of Zoe, an ex-schoolteacher who leaves her Nebraska home and small son, to try her luck in San Francisco. There she meets an eclectic bunch of characters, from the spinster with a penchant for collecting glory-box items at parish functions, to a Minister's son who vandalises the church's pipe organ in frustration at his sequestered life.Each character is brought sharply into focus as the climactic performance approaches. Calvin Levels is excellent as a youth ensnared by bigotry, and who must confront his own anger at being reliant on his grandmother for financial and moral support. "Babe"'s James Crawford is well cast as the Minister trying to tie all the various personalities together to work for their common goal. The interplay of characters, with their all too human foibles, but with determination and resolve to overcome their own personal shortcomings, is the lifeblood of this unsentimental tale. A definite viewing must for those who are tired of contrived goodwill."
Beautifully played "non traditional" Christmas story
Simon Davis | 01/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""A Christmas Without Snow' could never be put into the same category as most of the other, older Christmas favourites that are played each festive season. It tells its story in a very warm manner but never once does it cave in to playing too sweet and sentimental. It gets a regular screening each Christmas in Australia and has become a regular Christmas favourite for me.The real strength of "A Christmas Without Snow' is the wonderful performances given by a group of seasoned acting professionals. Michael Learned shines in the role of Zoe Jensen, the pivotal character here who is a recently divorced mother of a young son who has come alone to San Francisco to start a new life and finds life a difficult adjustment without her family and familiar surroundings. She also finds it difficult finding appropiate teaching work in the city and as a release from her frustrations she joins the choir of the local community church. There she encounters an even greater challenge when she finds herself having to deal with the domineering choir master Ephraim Adams ( the gifted John Houseman in a splendid performance), who is a perfectionist and drives the choir to the edge in an ambitious staging of Handel's Messiah. The film uniquely shows the choir's progression from a group of amateurs who all love music through to the end performance while revealing alot about each of the main characters and some of the issues they are confronting in their lives along the way. This is done in an interesting non sentimental way for each of the main characters. We see Zoe struggling with being on her own for the first time and having to deal with a possessive mother over the telephone who thinks she is doing the wrong thing moving to San Francisco without her son. We see Ephraim after all his work leading the choir having to make some harsh decisions about some members suitability and then being struck by a stroke just prior to the main performance. We see Reverend Lohman (James Cromwell) having to deal with a communication problem with his son that almost results in the group not performing, and Wendell (Calvin Levels)the black boy who loves to sing struggling to help his grandmother and then being wrongly accused of damaging the church. The screen play reveals the characters as all very human with faults and there are no automatic happy endings for any of the characters in the story, only hard work to try and make their lives better than they were. It is refreshing to see a Christmas movie take this approach without sacrificing the warm sense of needing to belong to a community which this movie so richly depicts. The performances are all a joy to watch and Michael learned and John Houseman in particular are very memorable in their playing. Michael learned, an extremely capable actress had just finished her long running Emmy Award winning role as Olivia Walton on the classic series "The Waltons" at this time and here she takes on a role very different from that which made her famous in the series. She is at times warm, insecure, assertive and caring for the other choir members in their troubles and really is the heart and centre of this touching yet realistic Christmas tale. John Houseman, playing a character very similiar to his wonderful performance as Prof. Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase" is also a standout and is at times a hard task master with the choir but also never fails to reveal the great love and admiration he has for the members of the choir under his direction.I believe if you like well written and realistic characters then "A Christmas Without Snow" will be a film that will get your attention. It is a fine movie to include in your Christmas viewing however it carries a message that all of us should embrace throughout the year, that being that none of us is without failings and that all of us need to be cared for and loved as human beings no matter what time of the year it is. I recommend "A Christmas Without Snow' as a part of your future Christmas viewing if it isn't already."
Good movie, terrible DVD
Simon Davis | 10/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I like this movie, but the picture and sound quality of this DVD is worse than VHS! Buy the tape instead."