Hallmark’s ‘Christmas Card’ for the troops

For soldiers in any era or generation, one of the moments of greatest joy is when the mail arrives, particularly during the holiday season. Unfortunately, not every man and woman serving in the military has someone to send him or her cards, letters and care packages. Hallmark Channel would like to inspire viewers to do something about that.

At 9 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark premieres “The Christmas Card,” a tale, inspired by real-life situations, that looks at the unlikely romance between a soldier serving in Afghanistan and a woman from a small California mountain town, which all begins when he gets one of the Christmas cards she sent out en masse to the troops.

John Newton (“The Untouchables”) stars as Army Sgt. Cody Cullen, who can’t stop rereading the handmade card from Faith Spelman (Alice Evans), which includes photos of her picturesque hometown of Nevada City. When a sad errand for a fallen comrade takes him back to the states at Christmastime, Cody visits Nevada City and meets Faith. After performing a heroic act, he winds up practically adopted into the Spelman family and even takes a temporary job at the family lumber mill. Although Faith’s parents, Luke and Rosie (Ed Asner, Lois Nettleton), adore Cody – and Faith connects with him as well – there’s the pesky question of her wealthy but largely absent boyfriend, Paul (Ben Weber).

On Tuesday, Hallmark is screening the film at Fort Belvoir in Virginia at the invitation of the Department of Defense, which operates the Web site www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil, that helps Americans connect with troops.

Also performing similar services are www.OperationGratitude.com and www.OperationDearAbby.net. Copies of the movie will also be provided to wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

“The Christmas Card” is an old-fashioned heart-tugger, and that’s fine with Newton, who says, “I’ve probably only cried two times reading a script. . . . But when I got to the end, I was so caught up in the story – it sounds cliche, but I really was – I cried a little bit.”