Merry Christmas! Thanks to a 2016 challenge by good friend Carl Swanson, I am reviewing the 1996 USA Network remake of Holiday Affair 1949. The story line is just about the same, freshened up with 1990’s accoutrements.
Once again, Lionel model trains are the real star and major plot point for this movie. It appears filmmakers whomped up a custom-made trainset painted a very shiny shade of silver, with a red/white/blue stripe high along the sides of the cars and locomotive. The consist used is an EMD F3A unit, coach, baggage/coach, full baggage car and dome observation car, in that order (a somewhat unusual arrangement). A brief search turned up little about the particular cars used. Perhaps modelers out there can enlighten me in the comments?
Filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, we are also treated to quick glimpses of the city’s subway system and a real, live peek at VIA Rail’s Canadian in Union Station. Pour yourself a cocoa or glass of wine and enjoy this holiday story of a boy and his trains.
A Lionel train set by the fireplace, Christmas morn. What red-blooded American (or Canadian) kid wouldn’t wish for something like that?
Our story begins as a four car passenger train circles around a nicely-detailed Lionel O-gauge layout.
Crossing bridges and passing through tunnels rolls the silver streak.
It’s a bit blurry, but I captured the train car by car (F unit, coach, coach/baggage, baggage, dome-observation).
As the credits finish, the camera pulls back to reveal the train is traveling on a department store layout. Lots of excited children watch the action as a salesman sprinkles “snow” on the winter scene.
Widow Jodie Ennis (played by Cynthia Gibb) is in a hurry. She prevails upon handsome salesman Steve Mason (played by David James Elliott) to purchase the last remaining train set at $1,298.00 plus tax.
Jodie is purchasing the set for her advertising agency and plans to return it the next day.
Once at home, however, the big orange box catches the eye of little Timmy Ennis (played by Curtis Blanck). Unbeknownst to Mom, Tim sneaks a look at the train set. Instantly he is smitten by the toy and hopes it’s a Christmas present for him.
Unfortunately for Jodie, Crowley’s Department Store has an “All Sales Final” policy. Nice guy Steve gallantly credits back the $1,298.00 and is promptly fired.
I love this actor (can’t figure out who he is from the credits, though). Perfect boss-type holding the incriminating return receipt. Timmy runs into him later on.
Now with lots of time on his hands, Steve offers to carry Jodie’s many packages and bundles. Visiting the TTC (Toronto’s subway), we get some quick views of their distinctive equipment (circa 1996).
Despite being shoved together by the crowd, Jodie bolts to the departing train leaving Steve on the platform with her merchandise.
Good chunk of the movie left off HERE
Christmas arrives and Timmy has discovered the prized Lionel trainset on his doorstep from “Santa”. Meanwhile, Jodie calls around to find out how the train got there.
ROWF! Nice outfit, Mom.
Later on, the grandparents stop by and Tim shows off his trains. I like the walkie-talkie remote control operating throttle.
Another large slab of movie eviscerated.
A heartbroken Timmy rides the subway downtown to return his train set (he thinks Steve needs the money). In the showroom, he takes one last, longing look at the store display.
Gah! It’s the Wicked Warlock of Crowley’s! Yes, poor little Timmy is caught between middle management and the layout. Run Timmy, Run!
Reaching the top floor, Tim relates his tale of woe to the kindly Executive Secretary. She sees to it that Mr. Crowley himself takes care of Timmy’s plight, delivering him back, safe and sound, to Mom Jodie.
Still more sappy and heartwarming plot development truncated.
What’s this? It’s New Year’s Eve. Jodie and Timmy are running through the cathedral ceilings and hallowed columns of Toronto Union Station.
Soon they are trackside about to board that Midnight Train to Georgia…err…Virginia. They manage to get onboard just as the Conductor is about to lift the step box.
Nice interior shots of a couple day coaches as they search the train for Steve.
It’s you! Come hither!
(I dig the etched-glass partition behind Jodie.)
Reunited and it feels so gooood! The camera then pans up from the happy trio, segueing into one last look at the store train and layout as the credits roll.
If you’d like to watch the movie yourself, it is on YouTube:
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Holiday Affair 1996:
If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy the blog!