The Littlest Angel
The Littlest Angel is a wholesome fantasy film for the entire family, that winds up pointing to the birth of God’s Son in Bethlehem. Starring Johnny Whitaker (formerly “Jody” on the classic TV series Family Affair) and Fred Gwynne (formerly Herman Munster on the original The Munsters TV series), the film features top notch acting, including that of Tony Randall. And E.G. Marshall does the voice of God. He even shows up in long white hair and a beard at the end, but it is all handled with respect.
The premise is that young Michael (Johnny) is a shepherd, tending to his parents’ sheep. He begins the film with a song, and he is actually a pretty fair singer. He sings that he is master of all that he surveys, and for the minute, “I’m taller than Caesar could be.” He holds a sheep and sings that he feels seven feet tall since being made a shepherd by his father.
In a brief scene with his parents, Michael’s father comments that the box Michael keeps his collectibles in (including two stones, blue eggs, and a feather) is junk, while Michael believes they are Earth’s treasures.
Next, we see Michael chasing after a dove and, before he can stop himself, he falls off a cliff as he reaches for the dove. He leaves behind the mountain and green grass and sheep and finds himself walking among the clouds. He sings a song, questioning, “Where am I? Where is the world I saw a moment ago?” He sings about the pillow-like clouds. He is met by an angel and is told he’s been waiting for him.
We see an angel strumming a harp and singing about peace. Everything is white and the world is filled with puffy clouds. Fred Gwynne plays Patience, who will be Michael’s guardian angel. Another angel berates him for losing track of time, but he admits that Patience is warm and kind.
Michael is welcomed with angel songs and now he is an angel, awaiting his wings. Not all the angels in the film have wings but some do. This fantasy film may not be theologically correct on all counts, such as human souls becoming angels, but they do nicely illustrate an afterlife with beings that care for one another in heaven. The angel Gabriel greets Michael and sings that this is really “paradise.” Michael is given a gown and then goes through a process of shaking several of the angel’s hands in greeting. In a light moment, he flaps his hand around afterwards, trying to get some feeling back into it. Michael meets Patience and Gabriel tells Michael that he previously wore a shepherd’s hat but will now wear a halo.
But it is going to take some adjustment for Michael who, when told he is now an angel, declares, “I don’t want to be one!” Patience makes him feel better when he tells him that angels never have to wash up, because they don’t get dirty. Michael will have to take flying lessons and will earn his wings afterward.
The movie features several memorable songs, including one that Michael sings, asking, “Where is blue, the blue I always knew?” And Patience (Gwynne) sings too and does a nice job. Connie Stevens shows up as an angel who plans to get Michael up to speed on flying. She sings about getting a pair of golden wings, through which to fly through the skies. She sings she has a pair for Michael which has saved through eternity.
Michael opens up to Patience-telling him that he misses home. Though it is not usual practice, Patience allows Michael to briefly return home to get his collectible box, although his parents will be unable to see him. When he leaves Patience sings a song, reflecting on his previous life.
Upon returning to heaven, with his collectibles box secure, Michael hears that the Son of God, Jesus is to be born that very night in Bethlehem. All of the angels find wonderful gifts to present to him, but all Michael has is his collectibles box. He feels it is unworthy to present to Jesus, but it is all he has to offer.
The ending is very satisfying and makes a nice point about giving from one’s heart. It’s nice to see a film that presents the idea of heaven, the afterlife, and God along with the angels. It is icing on the cake that it presents the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. This fantasy film has earned our Dove seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
The entire family will enjoy this fantasy/musical with its memorable songs and memorable theme about the love of God as seen in the gift of his Son.