Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood Sony Hack Reveals the Insufferable Whiteness of Hollywood '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! '106 & PARK' Says Goodbye Today, Dec 19 at 6pm, w/ Live, 2-hour, Star-Studded Finale! First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic First Image of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in Upcoming HBO Biopic The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Looking Back On "J.T." And The Other Holiday Films Of Yesteryear

Shadow and Act By Emmanuel Akitobi | Shadow and Act December 22, 2011 at 9:50AM

In the past decade or so, Hollywood has chucked out a few so-called holiday films, like Last Holiday and This Christmas.  And while those films may satisfy the holiday film appetite of some, I'm still a sucker for that old-school; those holiday films from a more simple time-- you know . . . the 70's, 80's, and 90's.  You're probably saying, "That wasn't that long ago."  But trust me when I tell you that they don't make them like they used to.  Take the 1969 TV movie J.T. for example . . .
3
J.T.
J.T.

In the past decade or so, Hollywood has chucked out a few so-called holiday films, like Last Holiday and This Christmas.  And while those films may satisfy the holiday film appetite of some, I'm still a sucker for that old-school; those holiday films from a more simple time-- you know . . . the 70's, 80's, and 90's.  You're probably saying, "That wasn't that long ago."  But trust me when I tell you that they don't make them like they used to.  Take the 1969 TV movie J.T. for example . . .

The Robert M. Young-directed J.T. originally aired on CBS, and starred Ja’net Dubois, Helen Martin, and a young Kevin Hooks in the lead role as J.T. Gamble, "a shy, withdrawn Harlem youngster, who shows compassion and responsibility when he takes on the care of an old, one-eyed, badly injured alley cat days before Christmas and secretly nurses it back to health."

For me (and many others, I'm sure), watching J.T. on filmstrip in elementary school was essential to kicking off the holiday season.  I think I may have seen J.T. from 1st through 5th grade and, for me, it never got old.  Hooks' portrayal of J.T., the vulnerable boy who stole and lied his way to redemption, may not have been one that my peers and I could directly relate to.  But he looked just like us; a rarity in a lot of those old filstrips.  And back then, that was enough to draw us into his Christmas story, year after year.  Plus, I wouldn't be surprised if some of those feel-good lessons on doing what's right riubbed off on us, too.

Many consider J.T. a classic film, and it's truly a shame that it hasn't been made more readily available to the public.  You can watch it in several parts on YouTube.  And there are a few bootleg copies floating around the Internet.  If you happen to have one, consider yourself the keeper of a true treasure.  Hopefully, one day, we'll get an official restored DVD release of this special film, to be enjoyed by generations after our own.

Here are a few more holiday films from the past (some available, some not) that deserved to be restored and preserved:

The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977)/ Hal Sutherland

The Fat Albert Christmas Special
The Fat Albert Christmas Special

Featuring the voices of: Bill Cosby, Jan Crawford, Gerald Edwards, Eric Suter, Marshall Franklin

In another part of Philly, the Cosby Kids are rehearsing for a Christmas pageant at their junkyard clubhouse, which Tyrone, the mean old junkyard owner, is fixin' to tear down. That's when Marshall & his parents show up. With their car broken down, Marshall's mom is about to have a baby and his dad, without health insurance, inspires the gang to invite them in the clubhouse for shelter. Tyrone agrees to let them stay until the baby is born, in exchange for Fat Albert working for him as a sidewalk Santa.

The Kid Who Loved Christmas (1990)/ Arthur Allan Seidelman

The Kid Who Loved Christmas
The Kid Who Loved Christmas

Starring: Sammy Davis, Jr., Cicely Tyson, Trent Cameron, Michael Warren, Della Reese, Esther Rolle, Ben Vereen, Vanessa Williams, Charlie Murphy

This made-for-TV drama--Sammy Davis, Jr.'s last--stars Trent Cameron as a young orphan who must fight against social workers in order to remain with his adoptive father, a widowed jazzman.

Harambee! (1996)/ Fracaswell Hyman

Harambee!
Harambee!

Starring: Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Carlton Beener, Novella Nelson, China Shavers, Merlin Santana, Brenda Pressley, Paula Newsome

Harambee! is a family drama set in the housing projects of Brooklyn during Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration. After a stray bullet enters his apartment, 11-year-old JoJo Barnes writes a composition about violence in his neighborhood that sparks adults in the community to take action. The seven nights of Kwanzaa become a spiritual journey in which the seven principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith) come to life.

Ms. Scrooge (1997)/ John Korty

Ms. Scrooge
Ms. Scrooge

Starring: Cicely Tyson, Michael Beach, Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly, Katherine Helmond

A contemporary re-telling of Dickens’ classic tale, only this time centered around the character of Ebenita Scrooge (Tyson).

This article is related to: Holiday Films


Shadow & ActNewsletter