THE BOOTLEG FILES: "A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES" Image

BOOTLEG FILES 109: “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” (1962 short based on the Dylan Thomas classic).

LAST SEEN: We cannot confirm the last public screening.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR DISAPPEARANCE: There is no clear reason why this is missing.

CHANCES OF SEEING A DVD RELEASE: Unlikely in the near future.

BOOTLEG OPPORTUNITIES: Strictly from private collectors.

Get the bootleg in part two of THE BOOTLEG FILES: “A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES”>>>

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  1. Fred Guida says:

    PS:

    I just tried the link and it works. Wait a few seconds and it will pop into focus.

  2. Phil Hall says:

    Thank you, Fred. As an update: I received confirmation that the Lichtner film is now in the public domain – although the recording of Dylan Thomas used in the film is not and would require a fee payment to Harper Collins (which now controls the rights to that recording).

    I have since learned that the visual style used by Lichtner in this film was also used by him in an earlier television documentary on Robert Frost.

    I am trying to arrange screenings of “Dolig Gwyn Dolwyddelan” and the Lichtner film that inspired the new Welsh documentary for this year’s New England Underground Film Festival, to be held October 3 in Hartford, Conn. More details on that to follow.

  3. Fred Guida says:

    It is great to read of the interest in this wonderful little film. Perhaps I can add a little more information to the discussion and turn people on to two other rare and wonderful versions of the story as well:

    In terms of its distribution, and apart from television screenings, the film was undoubtedly distributed to the non-theatrical and/or educational film markets in the 16mm film format. (The latter distributed films primarily to schools and libraries.) It was no doubt handled by one or more long defunt companies such as Audio-Brandon Films, Em Gee Film Library, Learning Corporation of America, McGraw-Hill, etc … It was presumably shot on 16mm film. Also, it was presumably copyrighted in 1962, but the copyright may not have been renewed.

    Used prints from such companies were eventually, and generally, dispersed among university collections and the private collectors market. Today, 16mm collecting is a thriving cottage industry. One way to access it is via this web site: http://www.16mmfilmtalk.com Prints of this film are definitely “out there.” In this regard, it will probably turn up on ebay one day.

    In terms of its style, the film is indeed very similar to “La Jette.” However, since this film was also released in 1962 (in France) – and after Lichtner completed his film – Lichtner could not have been influenced by it. If Lichtner was influenced by anything, it was probably the 1957 Canadian documentary short “City of Gold” which pioneered the use of still photographs with camera movement and narration. (Ken Burns has acknowledged this film as an influence.)

    And now for something completely different: Another (almost) equally rare and wonderful version of the story is available on DVD from a small Connecticut company called Creative Arts Television. (See http://www.catarchive.com) It was made for television in 1961 and features Richard Burton reading “Child’s Christmas” in its entirety. The reading is framed by sequences shot on location in New York City. See also my May 7, 2012 article titled “The Inimitable Meets Dylan Thomas!” at http://www.charlesdickensonscreen.com

    The opportunity to hear the great Richard Burton read the story is, of course, priceless. And, as a bonus, the DVD contains another rare production titled “London by Dickens” which was made for television in 1958. It features a very young Alan Bates as Charles Dickens.

    And finally: On the DVD “This is Tom Jones Christmas,” which includes two television programs from 1969/1970, the singer recites excerpts from the story backed by a Welsh choir.

  4. Phil Hall says:

    UPDATE: The new documentary “Dolig Gwyn Dolwyddelan” (“White Christmas in Dolwyddelan”) – about the making of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” – will be broadcast on the S4C Channel based in Wales on December 21 at 1900 GMT. The filmmakers generously cited Film Threat in their production. The film should be on Vimeo right after that (a rough cut version, without credits and without English subtitles for the Welsh language sections, is now online.)

  5. Stephen Spector says:

    What a community there is about this wondrous film…. I recall PBS showing it in the Washington, DC area back in the ’70s. And it is as vivid a part of my youth as my first viewing of the Tempest, the 1960 version with Roddy McDowell, Richard Burton, Lee Remick.

    And then Child’s Christmas seemed to vanish. Thanks for the great news. I hope we get to see it and the documentary around the holidays.

  6. L E SHannon says:

    I could have written Ms Hill’s comment myself, word for word — except change Rochester NY to Alhambra, California (yeah, there was a little intelligent life out here back then). That film has haunted me for decades, so bless Mr Hall for the heads-up. At last the long wait is over.

  7. Phil Hall says:

    I have excellent news, Donald. There is a new documentary being produced about the history of this elusive film – and as luck would have it, I appear in the documentary. It will be broadcast in Wales in December and should be online shortly after its broadcast.

  8. Donald L. Richardson says:

    In the 60’s and 70’s before Christmas vacations, I’d always show my students that perfect creation: Thomas,s poem and voice and Lichtner’s black and white film. For the last 30 years I’ve yearned to see that joyful film again. I so hope you can find it for us!

  9. Judith Danielsen says:

    When I taught in the English department at South Dakota State University in 1980, I borrowed this film from the University’s collection to show my students at Christmas. I had not previewed it, but loved Dylan Thomas’s writing, this story, and my own heritage of being half Welsh. I had not yet connected with relatives who live in Dolwyddelan where the photos were taken by Marvin Lichtner. The film was in such terrible shape, I had to give my students a longer break from my class by dismissing them early. Later, when I learned more of my connections to Dolwyddelan and more about the film, I tried to borrow it again, but it had been destroyed for it was not even in the South Dakota film library in our state capitol, Pierre, SD. It does not seem there is a copy available, but if it ever does show up, please let me know. Could there possibly be a place where Marvin Lichtner has donated his photos? My relatives are in his film so it would be fun to look through them.

  10. Ray Konrad says:

    Today was another day in which I started another search for the lost Child’s Christmas in Wales film I remember seeing when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. I remember that KQED, (PBS) used to air the film around Christmas time, and it seems to me that this happened on three succeeding years around 1966-69?. At the time I had no idea that this would not continue indefinitely, and so did not place that much value on the film. One year it was not there, and I began to try and find out about it. All my efforts led to nothing. I have tried off and on to see if I could locate some information on it, but have never found anything. I am so glad to see at least something about the film, and hope to stumble on a copy, or at least an airing or showing of this priceless gem of a film.

  11. Don Zier says:

    I saw this film in 1962 or 1963. It was on a double bill, together with Jiri Trnka’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, shown on the classic film program at my university. Most probably they had a 16 mm print. Both my wife and I were entranced. I, too, have tried to find a copy for all the intervening years. Now that DVD’s are becoming available I had hope that something might someday show up, but your review is the closest I’ve gotten.

    Could I, too, bribe you with gallons of cash to make a copy? If not, can you direct me to a good bootlegger?

  12. Kathryn Hill says:

    I just stumbled upon your article about the black and white version of A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Finally, evidence that I didn’t imagine seeing this in the 1960s on my local PBS station in Rochester, NY. I have been searching for years, off and on, for verification that this film exists since no one I know ever saw or heard of it, and my local TV station has no record of it.
    Is it possible to bribe you with $$ for a copy of this? It stays in my memory after all these years as being one of the more special viewing experiences in my life. A perfect blend of words, voice, and images.
    I’s made my day to find out that I’m not alone in my memory of this great little film.
    Kathryn Hill

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