Il natale che quasi non fu (1966)

"The Christmas That Almost Wasn't"
Cast
Mischa Auer, 1905-1967
Lidia Brazzi
Rossano Brazzi
Mario Felciani
Sonny Fox
John Karlsen
Friedrich Ledebur, 1900-1987
Alberto Rabagliati
Paul Tripp

Director
Rossano Brazzi

Production
Paul Tripp
Rossano Brazzi
Childhood Productions (Barry Yellen)

Synopsis/Review:
"Lydia had played a role - her first - in After The Fox', for which she was paid $50,000 and a $10,000 bonus," her loving husband told me. "One day the telephone rang. It was Ezio Fiermonte, the former boxing champion, who is now in film production. He asked for Lydia. After she put the phone down, she turned to me triumphantly and said, "You see, they want me again."

She gave me the script. It intrigued me. The next day, the producer asked me, "Mr. Brazzi, would you like to direct the picture and play the villain as well?" It had been offered to another director first. When he said, "There's no sex in the picture, but I know a 22-year old blonde who'd be great as Mrs. Santa,' they grabbed it back.

It was a risk for me. The Italians are ready to kill an actor who becomes a director. It's a cute story about a bad man who buys the North Pole and tells Mr. and Mrs. Claus that if they don't pay the rent by December 24th, he'll throw them out. The children of Italy go to work and of course, Santa triumphs.

I almost fired Lydia on the first day that I directed her. She was taking so long to get ready and I said to her, If you're going to do things like that, go home.' This was after I had said, Be ready in 15 minutes' and a half hour went by. I watched her putting on some boots so slowly, and I said, "I'm going to make you eat those boots." After she saw the picture she said to me, "I never thought you could direct a picture. If I make another picture for you, I'll charge you $250,000."

I don't have to tell you who is the boss in this marriage but Rossano thrives on it.

"The Christmas that Almost Wasn't" was released in this country the day before Thanksgiving by Childhood Productions of which Rossano is a partner with young Barry Yellen. Santa is played by 60-year old Alberto Rabagliati, who was signed by Fox to replace Rudolph Valentino after his death. He disliked Hollywood and returned to Italy.

The film will be taken off the market after the holidays and released again next year, and, if business is good, indefinitely.

Brazzi Defends Italian Men, Interview with Sheila Graham, 12/10/66, Citizen-News

Notes
Mischa Auer also appeared in Per amore ... per magia.


Viewer's Comments

"I just received a long awaited copy of this film that I loved so dearly as a child. Absolutely a film for every child to see even in this or any generation. They don't make movies like this anymore of this quality. The real emotional drama is spectacular towards the end of the movie when all the kids prove to Santa how much they love him. I still cry after all the times I've seen the picture. Regards from a loving fan, Ari.
E-Mail:  Ari.Grossman@tfn.com

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