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The Angel Doll (2002) Online

The Angel Doll (2002) Online
Original Title :
The Angel Doll
Genre :
Movie / Drama
Year :
Directror :
Alexander Johnston
Cast :
Betsy Brantley,Beatrice Bush,Pat Hingle
Writer :
Alexander Johnston,Jerry Bledsoe
Type :
Time :
1h 33min
Rating :
The Angel Doll (2002) Online

The story of two small town boys from different sides of the tracks: 1950's childhood and self-redemption. Young "Whitey" Black (so called because of a tuft of blanched hair on the left side of his head) lives in poverty with his single mother and ailing, four-year old sister, Sandy. Just across town, young Jerry Barlow lives the advantages of a middle class lifestyle with both parents and his younger brother. When mischief casts Whitey and Jerry into a shared paper route, Jerry quickly learns of Whitey's desire to buy his sister an angel doll for Christmas. Even though no such dolls exist in their hometown, Whitey, Jerry and a host of colorful characters set out in search of Sandy's gift. Along the way, reversals of fortune, theft, prejudice and, ultimately, the boy's friendship opens their eyes to the vastness of the small town around them.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Betsy Brantley Betsy Brantley - Mary Barlow
Beatrice Bush Beatrice Bush - Pearl Cumberland
Pat Hingle Pat Hingle - Noah Roudabush
Gil Johnson Gil Johnson - Jack Barlow
Nick Searcy Nick Searcy - Col. Brandeis
Cody Newton Cody Newton - Whitey Black
Michael Welch Michael Welch - Little Jerry Barlow
Diana Scarwid Diana Scarwid - Fronia Black
Keith Carradine Keith Carradine - Adult Jerry Barlow
Nick Angel Nick Angel - Santa
Don Henderson Baker Don Henderson Baker - Somber Man
Calleigh Crumpler Calleigh Crumpler - Emily
John Copeman John Copeman - Milkman Woodrow Jones
Christian Durango Christian Durango - Randy Clark
Cordereau Dye Cordereau Dye - Let Cumberland

This was writer/ director Alexander "Sandy" Johnston's final project.

User reviews



An interesting choice for a Christmas movie, but one that gives a little different message than others. It starts out as a buddy film set in the '50's, and it will be a nice trip down nostalgia lane for older baby boomers. The plot thickens to more of a crisis, as one of the boy's sister is sick from polio and fading fast, and the boy wants to make her Christmas special.

The girl loves angels and the book "The Angel Doll", so he struggles to find (and afford) an angel doll for her. The message at the end of the book has a small angel asking the question: what can I give to the Christ child? It's something that all Christians should ask themselves each year during the holidays, and not just thinking about buying gifts and making out our own lists. There's also a strong underlying current on the importance of family ties in the film.

While there may not necessarily be a "Hollywood" happy ending to this film, it's a well-told tale about a chapter in a boy's life. Be sure to see the extra clip on the DVD.


This movie brings back some of the old feel for Christmas movies and is a must see for people who remember what Christmas is really all about. Although it has some interesting plot problems, it definitely brings out the Christmas Spirit.


I saw this at its "World Premier" at the Spoletto Arts Festival here in Charleston, SC. It was wonderful. The only criticism I have is that the two main boys acted a little too grown up. The movie flowed well and really sucked you in. It is definitely a great 2 hours spent well. Do yourself a favor and see it when you can.


The Angel Doll is based on the book by Jerry Bledsoe and written and directed by Alexander Johnston, who died shortly after making this movie. It is an enchanting and touching true story told through the eyes of Jerry Barlow (Michael Welch), a ten-year-old boy. The setting of this beautifully acted and moving tale of family life is the nostalgic world of small-town America. Jerry lives in the southern town of Thomasville, and the year is 1950. The summer has just begun, and it is going to be a summer that will change Jerry's life forever. He is doing his paper round for the town store, dreaming about a Schwinn Black Phantom bike and getting up to innocent mischief with his mates. When he meets "Whitey" Black (Cody Newton), they become best friends. Whitey is a boy from a troubled family – his father died, his mother (Diana Scarwid) drinks to blot out life's miseries and his little four-year-old sister Sandy lies bedridden with polio. Yet although he lives a tough life, Whitey has a heart of gold. Sandy's only comfort from her illness is her love for angels. So Whitey and his friends set out to find an angel doll as a special Christmas gift for Sandy. It is the ultimate quest of hope, and the boys learn what is truly important in their lives.

Next to Michael Welsh and Cody Newton, The Angel Doll also features a strong line-up of grown up acting talent, including Oscar winner Keith Carradine (Nashville, The Long Riders), Oscar nominee Diana Scarwid, Betsy Brantley, Pat Hingle and Nick Searcy.

The story is a very effective combination of childhood nostalgia with all its enchanting features and sincere messages of life. The movie primarily shows all the stereotypical aspects of family life in small-town America. Jerry's family fits very much into this pattern and is introduced as the typical American family of the 50s. Jerry and his friends are very imaginative boys. They fight battles with sticks and stones and even launch an expedition into a nearby army camp, which turns out to be a daring adventure that unravels the dangers of polio as a contagious disease.

The entire story is told through the eyes of Jerry, and thus his naivety and his simple-minded perception of life grants the movie just the right amount of sensibility and plain fun. There are various scenes that strongly reflect the coming-of-age theme as a very pervasive sub-theme of the plot. The hysteria of catching polio leads to a very interesting conversation between Jerry and his mother (Betsy Brentley) about fears and personal integrity. Jerry also learns a lot about challenges and struggles. He learns that friendship is really one of the most important things in life, and that dreams are a necessity to maintain hope and strength.

The issues of death and loss are very strong themes as well and add a lot of authenticity to the coming-of-age process Jerry in particular undergoes. Whitey loves Sandy with all his heart, but at the same time she is a very heavy emotional burden for him to bear. His gift for her is an ultimate sign of affection, showing his deep love and heart wrenching commitment to make her happy. One of the most compelling messages of the story shines through at the end when Jerry realizes that Whitey is gone. He is told that "Sooner or later, everybody loses a friend in their lives." Brilliant.

The Angel Doll is a story about Christmas and the most solemn human virtues. It is indeed a story of one lasting summer and nostalgic childhood memories. At the same time it takes a sentimental look at growing up and learning a lot about yourself and the world around you. It features inspirational themes as well as sincere depictions of how hard and unjust life can be. Just as when Whitey loses the money he has saved for the angel doll, he is down and out. Then Jerry steps in and shows genuine compassion for his friend's needs, thus renewing hope and inciting new confidence in Whitey. This is the main message. Care for those who need you and always remember that giving hope to someone else is the most rewarding gift anyone can give. Be it an angel doll for you ailing sister, pocket money for your struggling friend, donations for children's hospitals or Christmas gifts beneath the tree. Although there is loss and death everywhere around us, it is hope that brings us together and makes us carry on.


A new Christmas Classic that truly brings back the lost message of the season. Both children and adults will enjoy the truly entertaining characters and the story line, that keeps even the youngest viewers distracted until the final credits!!

Great Work, Sandy!!


This movie feels so real--like situations that happen to people in real life. Cody Newton carries the movie, and Michael Welch was really good as well.

The Angel Doll is set in North Carolina in the 1950s, and it is a tale of friendship between two boys and their world around them. The challenges they face and life lessons they learn amidst the fear and panic of a polio outbreak, shape who they are and who they become. Particularly heartwarming is Whitey's (played by Newton) determination to buy an angel doll for his sick sister who loves anything that has to do with angels.

I definitely recommend this movie--the actors were very good. This is a great Christmas movie.



This is a very good movie. I think it is a true story, as at the end of the movie, details are given as to how events played out in the future, or for that matter, still are playing out. I am very fond of Cody Newton (The Last Brick Maker In America). Also, I am a supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is the striving point of this movie! If you enjoy good Christmas movies, true to life (may be true), then give this little gem a chance (and give St. Jude a thought also, as it is a great cause to give to)!


I was lucky that I had sister who read the book and bought the Video when if came out at Barnes Nobles. This movie never received any publicity that I'm aware of. I know it's based on a true story about a boy growing up in a small town near me. It's amazing how even living 15 miles away, I never heard of the movie. Anyway to get back to the movie, the only thing I saw wrong was some of piano music in the beginning was a little bit hokey. The movie will remind you a lot of "Stand by Me". The actors, who for the most part are little know, deliver great performances. This is low budget film like "Breaking Away was". It will steal your heart and give older parents fond Christmas memories. The movie leaves you to wonder what happened to the little boy named "Whitey".


I Have Reviewed OVER 500 "Christmas Films and Specials". Please BEWARE Of films and specials with just one review! For instance When "It's a POSITIVE" chances are that the reviewer was involved with the production. "If its Negative" then they may have a grudge against the film for whatever reason. I am fare about these films.

Review Date 2/25/2019

Set in 1950's during the Christmas season this film is not groundbreaking or even an award contender for Acting or writing but the films cast makes this film you will remember.

In this film Young "Whitey" Black (so called because of a tuft of blanched hair on the left side of his head) lives in poverty with his single mother and ailing 4-year-old sister, Sandy. Just across town, young Jerry Barlow lives the advantages of a middle class lifestyle with both parents and his younger brother. When mischief casts Whitey and Jerry into a shared paper route, Jerry quickly learns of Whitey's desire to buy Sandy an angel doll for Christmas. Even though no such dolls exist in their hometown, Whitey, Jerry, and a host of colorful characters set out in search of Sandy's gift. Along the way, reversals of fortune, theft, prejudice, and ultimately, the boys' friendship opens their eyes to the vastness of the small town around them.

Worth watching but it is at times very predictable.
Vital Beast

Vital Beast

Occasionally marketed as a 'Christmas movie', this film has very little to do with Christmas, except that children can watch it. It was one of only two films written and directed by North Carolinian Alexander Johnston, who died immediately after it was finished, aged only 41. The film is set in Thomasville, North Carolina, in 1950, and much of it is clearly derived from real experiences. Although the film starts slowly and the first few minutes are unexciting, once the film is into its stride, it takes off due to the honesty and integrity of the director, and the marvellous performances he elicits from the two boys whose childhood friendship is portrayed, Cody Newton and Michael Welch. There is a small role for Cody's sister played very well by Lindsey Good, of whom we do not see enough, because she is always in bed with polio. The film is based upon the absolute reign of terror of the polio epidemics in America in the early 1950s, when it was not realized that the virus was transmitted by water, and many children died from it without anyone knowing how they even got the disease. How everything was transformed by the polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk later in the decade! The horror and fear were defeated, and terrible stories like this could no longer happen in the Western world. People who were not alive in 1950 cannot possibly imagine the hysteria and terror inspired by polio in America, and how it effected the movements and activities of every child in the country. This is all well documented in this film, and should be required viewing for social and medical historians. Diana Scarwid is wonderful as the hopelessly depressed alcoholic mother of Cody Newton in this bittersweet drama. The story turns on the polio-stricken little girl Sandy's obsession with angels, and her wish for an 'angel doll'. Her brother wishes to buy one for her but cannot find one, then his money is stolen by another boy, but his friend gives him his own money, and the search for the angel doll continues. A friendly black family come to the rescue, and the mother turns an ordinary doll into an angel doll for them. Everything about this charming film, narrated by Keith Carradine who plays the grown-up Michael Welch and remembers what happened in his youth, is delightful, fresh and natural. Really there ought to be more uncomplicated movies like this, which have a point but lack all affectation. Scoffers and sceptics and cynics beware, you watch an honest film like this at your peril!