ENTERTAINMENT

The Christmas Journey for Margaret O’Brien Continues

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Many movies and their stars are associated with the holiday season. Margaret O’Brien isn’t resting on her past Hollywood Christmas laurels which include appearances in films such as “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944), “Tenth Avenue Angel” (1948), and “Little Women” (1949), which all feature themes and/or songs relating to Christmas festivities.

As this year’s holiday season approaches, the beloved former child actress from the 1940s is starring in “This is Our Christmas,” a sequel to the popular 2015 TV movie “Beverly Hills Christmas,” and follows the Foxworth family 7 years after the first film.

“This is Our Christmas” has its broadcast premiere on the UPtv network (see www.uptv.com) November 3, followed by DVD distribution through Walmart and Target several days later.

Produced by Five Arts Films (see www.fiveartsfilms.com), director Christian Filippella enjoyed working with the veteran actress.

“She was so good that I decided to add more scenes with her character while in production,” recalled the multi-award-winning Italian director. “Her presence on screen added to each scene a unique energy — that quality only true stars possess.”

Co-producer Vincent De Paul, also appearing in the cast, wanted to introduce a “majestic grandmother” character into the sequel.

“Our first choice was Academy Award winner Margaret O'Brien to play my quirky, fun, and spiritual grandmother,” explained De Paul.

He says working with O’Brien was a delight.

“When you work with other performers you try to be as organic and natural as possible,” he said.  “Sometimes it is difficult with some actors who are reserved and cold on and off set.  Margaret was just the opposite — she had such a familial kindness that she exuded.  She also told me wonderful stories of her family and her devoted mother, who was also a performer, and stories about her early birthday parties held by Mary Pickford of United Artists and the actors from the Golden Era attending.”

Other “This is Our Christmas” cast members include Kira Reed Lorsch, Donna and Ravin Spangler, Ronn Moss, and Aaron O'Connell.

“It was great to have her also co-star with Aaron O'Connell (‘The Haves and the Have Nots’) — two actors of Irish decent talking about having hope and seeing angels during the holidays,” said De Paul.  “Margaret just created such a great energy on set.  I had to sing a song in the movie to my family and friends and she was so complimentary, stating ‘What a voice’ I had.  That was such a great compliment coming from Ms. O’Brien, considering the great Judy Garland sang ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to her in ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’”  

O’Brien, now 81, began her big screen career at the age of three with a one-minute spot in 1941’s “Babes on Broadway.” Her career took off the following year as the star of MGM’s “Journey for Margaret.”

“She is a consummate professional,” says De Paul after working with O’Brien on her latest Hollywood Christmas journey, “and gives a moving performance.”

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