During the Great Depression, a wealthy banker throws away his wife's expensive fur coat; it lands on the head of a stenographer, leading to everyone assuming she is his mistress and has access to his millions.
When the co-workers of an ambitious clerk trick him into thinking he has won $25,000 in a slogan contest, he begins to use the money to fulfill his dreams. What will happen when the ruse is discovered?
Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at Christmas time. But he feels sorry for her and arranges for her bail, and ends up taking her home to his mother for Christmas. Surrounded by a loving family (in stark contrast to Lee's own family background) they fall in love. This creates a new problem: how do they handle the upcoming trial? Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A screwball parable that only Preston Sturges could deliver.
This little-known movie may never be a Christmas standard. There are no angels in it, no churches, no hymns. Indeed, the only religious note is homiletic: "Stealing my mission money" is Stanwyck's mother's accusation against her.
Of course, piety is the last thing anyone expects from the wonderful Preston Sturges, whose stamp is strong throughout--dialog combined of wisecracks and folk wisdom, with every single character made whole and distinct, and a well-paced sequence of scenes that sneak up on you with their emotional impact.
Stanwyck and MacMurray, through screwball plot devices, end up traveling together to visit their rural families for the holidays. As children, it is revealed, each had stolen pocket-money from their mothers. This is a story about how a child's natural selfishness is not a natural wickedness, and about redemption from our past sins. Stanwyck's mother shunned her after the theft, and the scene of their grim reunion is powerfully portrayed, with especially skillful use of light and shadow. In contrast, MacMurray's mother, at their reunion, recalls to him, "Do you remember when you took my egg money... and how hard you worked to pay it back when you understood...?" "You made me understand," he says, and she replies, "No, dear, it was love that made you understand." And that is ultimately the moral: The more love is bestowed, the better the child-- or adult, because it's never too late.
The sentiment is not overdone. This is a neglected Sturges gem, with highlights ranging from a bail bondsman named Fat Mike to the splendidly slender Stanwyck being fitted, frill by frill, into authentic turn-of-the-century ladies' undergarments. Wow.
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