A sidewalk pitchman (the guy with the foldable suitcase/table full of cheap junk) named Lou Bookman (Ed Wynn) is visited by Death. Not wanting to die he negotiates a delay until he can “Make a Pitch for the Angels.” Death agrees to this but once the agreement is made Bookman gloats that he’ll stop making pitches forever. But the consequences involve the death in his place of a small child that Bookman knows. The little girl is struck by a truck and will die at midnight when Bookman was scheduled to die. Bookman awaits Death and delays him by distracting him with his most persuasive sales pitch and succeeds in saving the girl’s life. And of course, that pitch was the “One for the Angels.” And at that point Mr. Bookman is ready for his journey with Death who really isn’t a bad guy.
Wynn was a comic actor of the vaudeville era. My only other memory of him was a small part in the original Mary Poppins movie from the 1960s. The whole teleplay is highly sentimental and affected but it works. It’s a gentle fantasy that tugs at the heartstrings and appeals to our sympathy for the little guy who also happens to be a nice guy. For myself, being a rank sentimentalist, it appeals to my childhood view of how the world should be. So, it feels comfortably familiar. In other words, it’s nostalgic escapism and sometimes that’s exactly what I want. You have to decide for yourself if this type of story is acceptable entertainment for you.