CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN
Great Family Drama
Starring: Billy Ray Cyrus, Jacob Blair,
Emily Tennant, Ben Cotton, Tom
McBeath, and Brendan Meyer
Audience: All ages
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 96 minutes
Distributor: The Hallmark Channel
Director: Neill Fearnley
Executive Producer: Dan Angel, Ted Bauman, Howard
Braunstein, Michael Jaffee,
and Margaret Loesch
Producer: Randy Cheveldave
Writer: Donald Davenport
Address Comments To:Elizabeth Yost
Head of Original Programming and Development
The Hallmark Channel
Crown Media United States, LLC
12700 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
The story focuses on two family in the rapidly desegregating South. The white family is led by Daniel Burton, played wonderfully by Billy Ray Cyrus. They are deeply in debt. The black family consists of Grandmother Eunice Freeman, who owns her farm outright, and her son Rodney, who loves to read.
One day Daniel’s son, D.J., is trying to do his homework on the bus. He asks a white friend for the name of the capitol of New York State. The friend says New York City, but Rodney in the back says Albany. D.J. thinks that Rodney is getting uppity so he gets up and eventually attacks Rodney.
Daniel does not want his son to grow up to be a bigot, so he makes a deal with Eunice that the two boys will live together for a week. D.J. will spend a couple of days staying with Eunice, and Rodney will spend a couple days staying at the Burtons. The first few days are very difficult, but then Rodney and D.J. find a dog that’s been shot by the bigoted neighbor Carl. Rodney and D.J. become fast friends nursing the dog back to life.
A few years later, when Eunice dies, Daniel invites Rodney to live with them to the delight of the entire Burton family, except Daniel’s father-in-law. They have so little that their Christmas presents consist of pictures from catalogues of the gifts they want to have, thereby just expressing love and hope.
One day Rodney goes to a black voter registration meeting. Carl and his son, who has just been released from jail for killing a black man, firebomb the meeting. As they’re escaping, they run over D.J.’s youngest brother Bobby. Rodney is torn between the civil rights movement and the white Burton family who loves him so much.
CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN is great television. The drama is intense. The jeopardy is clear. And, the victories are heartwarming. This is a real portrait of real life, from a very Christian viewpoint. Both Eunice and Rodney pray in the name of Jesus at the beginning and at the end of the movie. Daniel tells his father-in-law, Carl’s friend, “If you’re so worried about what Carl thinks about a black boy living at our house, who are you going to answer to on Judgment Day?”
The acting in this movie is incredible. D.J.’s sister Cissy is particularly captivating, and Billy Ray Cyrus does one of his best roles. The movie looks like it was shot in Texas, which it probably wasn’t. The direction and set direction are flawless. Best of all, this is not a politically correct movie. It’s a movie about real Christian love.
CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN is reminiscent of PLACES IN THE HEART. It could have been a feature movie.
CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN is an intense drama. The jeopardy is clear. And, the victories are heartwarming. This is a real portrait of real life, from a very Christian viewpoint. Eunice and Rodney each pray in the name of Jesus. Daniel tells his father-in-law, “If you’re so worried about what Carl thinks about a black boy living at our house, who are you going to answer to on Judgment Day?” The acting in this movie is incredible. Billy Ray Cyrus does one of his best roles. The direction and set direction are flawless. Best of all, this is not a politically correct movie. It’s a movie about real Christian love.