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Christmas in July (1940)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  18 October 1940 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,219 users  
Reviews: 29 user | 19 critic

An office clerk loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves. His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, ... See full summary »

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Title: Christmas in July (1940)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Raymond Walburn ...
Dr. Maxford
Alexander Carr ...
Mr. Shindel
...
Mr. Bildocker
Ernest Truex ...
Mr. Baxter
...
Don Hartman, Radio Announcer
Rod Cameron ...
Dick
Adrian Morris ...
Tom (as Michael Morris)
Harry Rosenthal ...
Harry
Georgia Caine ...
Mrs. MacDonald
Ferike Boros ...
Mrs. Schwartz
Torben Meyer ...
Mr. Schmidt
Julius Tannen ...
Mr. Zimmerman
Al Bridge ...
Mr. Hillbeiner (as Alan Bridge)
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Storyline

An office clerk loves entering contests in the hopes of someday winning a fortune and marrying the girl he loves. His latest attempt is the Maxford House Coffee Slogan Contest. As a joke, some of his co-workers put together a fake telegram which says that he won the $25,000 grand prize. As a result, he gets a promotion, buys presents for all of his family and friends, and proposes to his girl. When the truth comes out, he's not prepared for the consequences. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HOTTER THAN A FIRECRACKER - MERRIER THAN CHRISTMAS! (original poster-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 October 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das große Los  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sturges helped invent the gadget sofa demonstrated in the department store scene. See more »

Quotes

Betty Casey: Bye, Mr. Heilhitler!
Mr. Hillbeiner: [beat] Close enough!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Telephone (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

Free for All
26 November 2006 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Christmas in July" (Paramount, 1940), the second feature entirely written, produced and directed by Preston Sturges, following his initial success of "The Great McGinty" (1940), ranks the director's most mellow comedies, compared to his future efforts as "Miracle on Morgan's Creek" 1944). In spite of his reputation for his wild and crazy plots, along with his familiar assortment of bizarre characters, "Christmas in July" could understandably be mistaken for a Frank Capra film, a theme not so much on how a good fortune changes the common man, but how much the common man unselfishly changes the lives for the good of others.

The plot is relatively simple: James MacDonald (Dick Powell) and his fiancé, Betty Casey (Ellen Drew), sit on the rooftop of their New York City apartment building listening to the radio where the name of the contest winner for the best slogan is to be announced. Wondering about the delay, Maxford (Raymond Walburn), president of Maxford House Coffee Company, heads over to the room where he finds the jury (consisting of Sturges stock players of Dewey Robinson, Arthur Hoyt, James Conlin and Robert Warwick), headed by its foreman, Bildocker (William Demarest), unable to decide upon the winner. With time running out, Maxford has the very nervous Donald Hartman (Franklin Pangborn) go on air to postpone the name of the winner until further notice. Because he had entered many contests in the past, Jimmy is confident that his slogan,"If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk." to be a sure winner. The following morning, Jimmy reports to his office clerical job to find a telegram on his desk naming him as winner of the Maxford contest. Overly excited, Jimmy stands on top of his desk where he makes his announcement to his fellow co-workers. Not only does Mr. Waterbury (Harry Hayden), his supervisor, grants him time off to collect his $25,000 prize, but he is immediately promoted to vice-president under Mr. Baxter (Ernest Truex) as a reward for his good fortune. After Jimmy collects the check from Maxford, who's unaware and confused why he hasn't been informed of the jury's decision, Jimmy takes Betty to Schidel's Department Storewhere where he buys her an engagement ring, and using the rest of the check to purchase gifts for everybody in his neighborhood. The Christmas in July celebration comes an abrupt end when Maxford, realizing his error after finding Bildocker still unable to come up with the decision, to arrive at the scene, accompanied by Mr. Schnidel (Alexander Carr) of the department store, to take back everything, including the check, and expose Jimmy as a fraud. A neighborhood riot ensues before Jimmy and Betty are confronted by three of their co-workers, Tom (Michael Morris), Dick (Rod Cameron) and Harry (Jarry Rosenthal) who confess to what was originally intended as a practical joke. Now that reality has set in, what's Jimmy to do? Will he be working a lot of overtime hours to pay for his purchases? Will Maxford sponsor more contests? Will the judges get to come up with the winner before next Christmas?

A Christmas story that's not necessarily about Christmas nor the 4th of July for that matter, but how it is more blessed to give than to receive every day of the year, not just on Christmas. While "Christmas in July" is at best when poking fun of the current trend of radio contests, the story simmers down only when centering upon the poverty-stricken couple Jimmy and Betty, yet, in true Preston Sturges tradition, throws in surprises here and there to hold interest and keep his audience laughing and completely satisfied in how everything is resolved. As much as Sturges could have selected good-natured actors as Gary Cooper, James Stewart or Henry Fonda in the leads, Dick Powell, former crooner of Warner Brothers musicals from the 1930s, making his Paramount debut, turns out to be a fine choice, particularly at this point of renewing his screen image. Aside from the plot it development of its leading characters, Jimmy being an average guy, engaged to a nice girl, living with his widowed mother (Georgia Caine) in a tenement apartment whose ambition is to succeed, Sturges also does a remarkable job with his assortment of neighbors of different ethnic background gathered together in the neighborhood sequence to appear very much true to life. He adds a touch of sentimentality with a memorable bit as Jimmy awards Sophie (Sheila Sheldon), a wheelchair bound girl, with an expensive doll she can call her own. Surprised as well as speechless, she looks up to Jimmy before hugging the gift like a new born baby, which is enough thanks any giver can ever receive. And thanks to Sturges for such a fine motion picture leaving us with something to think about, "If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk."

This seldom revived comedy gem that says it in 67 minutes made it to video cassette in 1985 at a high price of $59.95, followed by several cable television presentations, such as the Disney Channel (1991-1996) and Turner Classic Movies where it premiered in 2002. It's 2006 availability on DVD will assure renewed interest for both movie and the comedy films of Preston Sturges. (***1/2)


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