The Days Before Christmas

The Days Before Christmas


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This short documentary depicts Christmas time in Montreal. The milling crowds, department store Santas, Brink's messengers, kindergarten angels and boisterous nightclubs all combine to make a vivid portrait of the holidays.

What exactly goes on in a large Canadian city in the last few days before Christmas? Using this premise, an NFB film crew (featuring cameraman Michel Brault) was dispatched throughout Montreal just before Christmas 1957 to film what was happening, including the shopping frenzy and general merry making. The film would eventually be broadcast as part of the Candid Eye television series a year later and would be singled out as one of the best examples of direct cinema ever made at the NFB. The BBC would broadcast the film on Christmas Day 1959.

Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: The 1950s: Television and the Move to Montreal

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The Days Before Christmas, Terence Macartney-Filgate, Stanley Jackson & Wolf Koenig, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    Terence Macartney-Filgate
    Stanley Jackson
    Wolf Koenig
  • producer
    Roman Kroitor
    Wolf Koenig
  • executive producer
    Tom Daly
  • photography
    Michel Brault
    Georges Dufaux
  • sound
    Jack Locke
    George Croll
    Kay Shannon
  • editing
    Roman Kroitor
    René Laporte
    Wolf Koenig
  • sound editing
    Kathleen Shannon

  • None

    Does anyone else think the male chorister at the 14:30 mark might be Mayor Drapeau? I watch this every year for the nostalgia factor-- I was nine in 1958, and it's absolutely the way I remember everything. As farmer77 said, it's a real treasure.

    None, 10 Dec 2022
  • brenda.damen

    I sure enjoyed spending a half hour in 1958. The dear lady at 17:08 looks so much like my Great Aunt Ferne, I wonder if she was in Montreal in December of 1958. Thanks for promoting a true Christmas spirit with this excellent film.

    brenda.damen, 19 Dec 2019
  • None

    Thanks for the great memories! I am the second choir boy on the left hand side. Lorne W. West was an amazing Organist and Choirmaster. In fact our choir was one of the best in Canada in 1958!

    None, 9 Feb 2019
  • farmer77

    What a great glimpse into our past so well captured by the NFB! A national treasure!

    farmer77, 20 Dec 2018
  • sixam

    An excellent film to watch in anticipation of any holiday. However, I prefer the version without the commentary.

    sixam, 17 Apr 2014

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