Leo Gogarty marries Margaud Morgan after a whirlwind romance just before shipping out to war. When he returns he is surprised to discover not only that his bride is not what she led him to ... See full summary »
Gregory La Cava
Now grown-up, Johnny Columbo returns to New York from Italy having sworn a vendetta against the Black Hand who killed his father years earlier. Becoming romantically involved with a girl ... See full summary »
The daughter of a struggling musician forms a symphony orchestra made up of his unemployed friends and through persistence, charm and a few misunderstandings, is able to get Leopold ... See full summary »
A young man asks a hat check girl to pose as his fiancée in order to make his dying father's last moments happy. However, the old man's health takes a turn for the better and now his son ... See full summary »
A man is found murdered, with witnesses convinced about the woman they saw leaving his apartment. However, it becomes apparent that the woman has a twin, and finding out which one is the killer seems impossible.
Olivia de Havilland,
A group of French soldiers during WWII are captured by Nazis troops and sent to a military prison. There they will have to make use of his best resources to keep alive... and sane, while at the same time scheming a way out.
A small group of Allied soldiers and airmen on Java are being bombed by Japanese 'planes daily. With only one working fighter of their own, and five pilots anxious to fly it, the Dutch ... See full summary »
Acrobat Eddie Marsh is in the army now. His first act is to become friendly with Kathryn Jones, the colonel's pretty daughter. Their romance hits a few snags, including disapproval from her... See full summary »
While waiting at a train station, Nikki Collins witnesses a murder from a nearby building. When she brings the police to the scene of the crime, they think she's crazy since there's no body... See full summary »
Edward Everett Horton
Due to inclement weather, Lt. Charles Mason is forced to spend Christmas in New Orleans. Recently dumped by his girlfriend, the depressed Lieutenant falls in with Jackie Lamont, a singer who works at a nightclub and brothel. After attending midnight mass together, she tells her story to Charles. Her real name is Abigail and she fell in love with Robert Manette. After six months of happy married life, Robert is arrested for murder, but Abigail can't help loving her no-good husband. Written by
"Christmas Holiday" (Universal, 1944), directed by Robert Siodmak, is an interesting drama with "film noir" elements, (based on the story by W. Somerset Maugham which changes the local from Paris to New Orleans), starring two performers long associated with musical-comedy, Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly (on loan from MGM), in their only film together. Deanna Durbin's long awaited dramatic role, with two songs thrown in for good measure, might have earned her an Academy Award nomination, but didn't. Due to its lack of television revivals during the last couple of decades, "Christmas Holiday" just remains only a memory to anyone who has any recollection of ever seeing it.
The story begins with Lieutenant Charlie Mason (Dean Harens) about to have Christmas leave from military service to return home and marry his fiancée, Mona, but he receives a letter written by her that reads that she has married someone else. When his plane lands in New Orleans due to a bad rainstorm, Mason, quite depressed, makes the acquaintance with Simon Fenimore (Richard Whorf), a reporter, who invites him to accompany him to a night club managed by Valerie De Merone (Gladys George). While there, Mason meets Jackie Lamont, a night club singer (Deanna Durbin), and after she finishes vocalizing, "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," Jackie has Mason accompany her to a church. During the Mass, she starts to break down and cry. Mason covers up by placing his coat over her. He then escorts this troubled girl to a diner where she tells him her story: (Flashbacks reveal Jackie to be Abigail Martin. She meets Robert Manette (Gene Kelly). They fall in love and are soon married. Their marriage is happy and blissful for six months until Abigail learns that her husband, a troubled gambler, has just murdered his bookmaker. Abigail goes through a series of unpleasant circumstances during her husband's trial, especially when Robert's domineering mother (Gale Sondergaard) gives her a hard slap across her face for not having been a stronger influence on him after her son is found guilty and sentenced to serve time in prison.) Forwarding to the present: Abigail finishes her revealing story to Mason. She later learns that Robert has escaped from prison and is out to get her, adding more to her troubles.
When I first saw "Christmas Holiday" in one of its very rare television presentations on a PBS channel in 1982, I was moved by it and Durbin's performance from start to finish, and have never forgotten it. Possibly watching this movie again after so many years, I would not have that same reaction I had the first time, but otherwise, it still brings a new kind of experience in seeing Durbin in a serious role, that shouldn't go unnoticed. Durbin sings two songs, "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," and her lovely rendition to Irving Berlin's "Always." I was even surprised to find Gene Kelly playing a role against type. Still new to movies (making his debut in 1942), his dramatic acting comes off somewhat awkward. I've seen Kelly act in other serious roles, some good, some not, but his character in this production is definitely unsympathetic. He even gets a chance to carry a gun and use it in a shoot out. No dancing for him here unless he's dodging bullets bouncing from the floor. As for Gale Sondergaard, she looks too young to be playing Kelly's mother, a role that would have been far better suited to the likes of Margaret Wycherly (best remembered for her gangster mother role in James Cagney's in "White Heat" (1949)), but Sondergaard doesn't disappoint with her domineering performance over her "Momma's boy."
Also seen in the supporting cast is Universal contract player, David Bruce playing Gerald Tyler. Bruce would soon be elevated to Durbin's co-star in her only Technicolor musical, CAN'T HELP SINGING (1944).
Yes,"Christmas Holiday" is a rare find indeed, a different kind of Christmas story, the one that doesn't get to be added in the package of other Christmas movies that air annually on television, including all versions to "A Christmas Carol" (1938), "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) and/or "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947). While this movie has never been presented on classic cable channels like American Movie Classics, it's currently available (as of 2006) in the VHS format and can be purchased through Movies Unlimited. I recommend seeing it, at least once, if not for its dramatic content, but for its casting. (***)
36 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?