Christmas Cards by D Scott Mangione | Script Revolution

Christmas Cards



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When his father is rendered unable to work, an imaginative young boy sets out to sell Christmas cards to raise money and help his poor family celebrate the holidays.

Katonah, New York, 1949. Tony Cavelli, 9, wakes up in the cold, dark attic he shares with his brother, Sammy, 11. He has never felt poor despite going to a school where most of the children arrive in limousines. As Tony reads his only comic book, he discovers an ad for selling Christmas cards. Tony’s mother, Anna, tells him she’s so excited because it’s a Sunday Christmas this year.
Tony walks the long way to school to avoid going under the “troll bridge”. In Sister Redempta’s class, Tony explains his plan to sell Christmas cards during his presentation. Daniel rudely interrupts him and tells Tony he won’t sell any cards then the class chants, “One-shirt Tony, one-shirt…” Devastated, Tony gives up on selling the cards.
Tony’s father gets injured and can’t work. The family needs help so he decides to sell the cards. Tony manages to sell some. When his crying mother tells him they have to cancel Christmas, he promises her he’ll make enough to have the best Christmas ever.
Without knowing it, Tony walks up to Daniel’s mansion. Daniel sees Tony coming then pays his maid to tell Tony she will buy all of his cards if he can come back in a few days. When he returns to the mansion, Daniel tells Tony it was a prank and no one is going to buy his cards. Tony knows there is no time left to sell the cards so Christmas is ruined. Completely depressed he blames God and goes to his church to tell the priest he no longer wants to be an altar boy.
The wise words from the priest convince Joey he still has a chance though there are only two days left until Christmas. He trashes the script and uses what he has learned from family and friends to sell those cards.
Tony sells more cards but comes woefully short of what he needs. Facing failure he takes a chance and goes into the Elks Lodge where a huge party is going on despite the sign that says “absolutely no kids allowed”. A trick he performs with his dog impresses the exalted ruler of the Elks club and with his help, Tony sells the rest of the cards. On his way home, Tony chases his dog under the “troll bridge”. He’s attacked in the darkness and when his dog wakes him up all of his money is gone.
Tony sadly goes home without any money. He walks through the door and sees everyone is so happy because the doctor said his father was going to be fine. He understands his mother was worried about his father, not Christmas. Tony learns that the love of his family is what makes Christmas special, not money. Not the type to give up, Tony spends Christmas Eve convincing everyone he knows to spend Christmas at their house and it turns out to be the best Christmas ever.

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Coverage provided by Blacklist

The script paints a vivid picture of its period setting – a little Norman Rockwell, a little John Steinbeck – and writes beautiful, original flourishes in its scenes (such as the morning “show” that Tony watches in the attic). The characters are given colorful idiosyncrasies and nuances, and every one of them feels full and real. Daniel, for example, is portrayed as a victim of a lonely life, which smoothly justifies his bitterness. The script’s last third is by far its strongest: Tony has a tumultuous path to walk, full of highs and lows, leading to a cathartic confrontation with Daniel and a heartwarming conclusion. The script has a tremendous sense of heart, and knows how to write emotion without seeming manipulative or melodramatic – it always feels natural. The script’s eye for realism and minutiae is incredible, this is very much an auteur-driven story, reminiscent of Todd Haynes’ and Jeff Nichols’ dramas.

Submitted: January 15, 2017
Last Updated: April 14, 2019

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The Writer: D Scott Mangione

I have come to realize that there is a little bit of me in every screenplay I write. My first life-changing experience was the opportunity to learn the Navajo language and spend two years living among the Native Americans in the Navajo Nation. I spent the next fifteen years of my life playing keyboards with pop and country cover bands which gave me the opportunity to experience most of this great country of ours. I wrote many songs during this time and was the lead songwriter for three studio-recorded albums. I was able to earn a bachelors degree in education and biology from UTSA and a masters degree in curricular and instructional development from UNLV. I got married and was blessed with... Go to bio

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