I have very fond memories of my mom putting up Christmas decorations around our living room as my siblings and I watched “The Night They Saved Christmas”. It was not a movie we owned, but it always seemed to be one channel or another exactly when my mom put up the tree. Years later, when my twenties were a distant memory and my thirties where half over I stumbled across a DVD copy of it at a local Minneapolis used media store. It was part of a compilation of lesser films and I only bought it for this one reason. To see Jaclyn Smith help Santa save Christmas.
The film is simple enough. An oil company has decided to look for oil near Santa’s workshop. Realizing that his home is in danger, he enlists a mother and her children to help stop the drilling. Of course the father of said family works for the oil company and is resistant to believing any of the Santa nonsense when they try to explain it to him. When two of his children go into the snow and ice to warn Santa that drilling will continue and the mother follows to rescue them, they end up back at Santa’s workshop trapped by a storm. The father soon realizes what is really important to him and, you guessed it, he saves Christmas by stopping the drilling.
Though only a light hearted family film, it touches on a damaged relationship between a father and his youngest son and deals with some rather misogynistic accusations that Jaclyn Smith’s mother character couldn’t possibly be telling the truth about Santa so she must have been drugged. It was 1984 so not a surprise but my adult self picked up on it more that my four year old self did.
It also makes a case for the dangers of oil drilling in fragile environments though it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. The film just hides it subtly behind saving Santa’s workshop.
It’s still on of my favorite Christmas films, even if they treated one of Charlie’s Angels as if she didn’t know her own mind. I let it slide as a product of it’s time, and she does have some intellectual dialogue with Santa and Mrs. Clause. A little redemption, I suppose.
You can find this film on various Christmas compilations hidden among Hallmark movies or, if you’re lucky enough, Amazon might have a stand alone DVD available. It’s a cute, glittery movie to watch with your kids or if you want to relive those December mornings of your youth when your mom was putting up the holiday tree while it snowed outside.