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The Christmas Tree Reviews

Terence Young wrote and directed this emotional film based on Michel Bataille's novel. Filmed in Paris, Corsica, and Nice, it's the tale of a father (Holden) who watches his son (Fuller) die of radiation poisoning. Holden and Fuller are at the beach when an airplane carrying nuclear weapons explodes, poisoning Fuller with radiation that causes him to contract leukemia. Holden, who was swimming underwater during the explosion, is spared. He takes his son back to his home in France to be ministered to by Holden's girl friend, Lisi, and his old war pal, Bouvril. The remainder of the film depicts the painful wait for Fuller's death, which occurs on Christmas eve. The boy has always loved wolves, and when he dies he is guarded by wolves Holden and Bouvril have stolen from a Paris zoo. Too many farfetched sequences mar this picture, which was a strange vehicle for Holden to choose after his success in THE WILD BUNCH. Nevertheless, Lisi underplays her part so skillfully that the viewer becomes lost in her performance.