The Christmas That Almost Wasn't is a 1966 American-Italian film that stars Rossano Brazzi and Paul Tripp, and was originally released by Childhood Productions Inc.
On television, the movie had traditional December airings on Home Box Office (HBO) during the 1970s and early 1980s. The title in Italian is Il Natale che quasi non fu.
Sam Whipple, a broke lawyer who is young at heart, meets Santa Claus and learns that he's upset because he has a new landlord named Phineas T. Prune, to whom Santa owes a lot of rent. Prune has threatened to confiscate Santa's toys and have him, Mrs. Claus and the elves evicted. In order to raise money, Sam and Santa get jobs at a department store. Santa is nervous at first, but when the children arrive they naturally gravitate to him and he becomes a big success.
Prune schemes to thwart Sam and Santa's plans. He buys the department store, has his butler destroy several toys and takes the damages out of Santa and Sam's paychecks. He gloats that Santa will never be able to pay his rent on time.
Now broke again, Sam and Santa fear Christmas will be canceled. A little boy passes them on the street and asks what is the matter. When Sam explains, the little boy calls out to the city's children to help Santa. All the children pour into the streets and give what money they can.
Santa pays Prune his rent at the last minute. Then Santa, Mrs. Claus and Sam deliver the gifts together. They are surprised to discover the very last gift is addressed to none other Prune.
They arrive at Prune's home and Santa offers him the gift. He opens it and is moved to find it's the toy sailboat he wanted as a boy. A letter from Santa's head-elf apologizes for having misplaced Prune's wish list and explains that this is why Santa never visited him as a child.
Prune's rediscovers his holiday spirit and runs into the street wishing everyone a merry Christmas, frightening people with his enthusiasm. As Santa and Mrs. Claus depart, he thanks Sam for all his help.
Prune generously gives his sailboat to a little boy as the city's children look on in amazement. He invites all of them to his mansion for a Christmas party.Rossano Brazzi as Phineas T. Prune
Paul Tripp as Sam Whipple
Lydia Brazzi as Mrs. Santa
Alberto Rabagliati as Santa Claus
Mischa Auer as Jonathan, the elf foreman
Sonny Fox as Mr. Prim
John Karlsen as Blossom
The film was directed by and stars Rossano Brazzi. The actual story was based on the book written by Paul Tripp, who also adapted it for the screen and stars in the film. The musical score was written by Bruno Nicolai which includes the title song sung by Glenn Yarbrough. In the USA, the film is rated G and has a running time of 89 minutes.
The film was released on DVD on October 7, 2003 to Region 1. It is the uncut 93 minute version.
The Christmas That Almost Wasn't was made available for streaming through Netflix and Amazon Video.