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The two stars are Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly so 1940's audiences seeing a title like "Christmas Holiday" may well have expected a musical. The surprise was a TKO, and people reeled under this somewhat cleansed version of the Maugham novel. A powerful drama, "Christmas Holiday" actually proves that Durbin could have been on the verge of a stellar adult career that would have included important dramatic roles. She is merely superb in this one as a 'dance hall singer-hostess' who is determined to suffer as much as her murderous, jailed, asocial husband, very well done here by Gene Kelly. Durbin sings two standards beautifully, but it is her ACTING here that boosts the attention. Robert Siodmak, one of our finest noir-ish directors, carries off this challenge with excellence. Dean Harens is an fine foil for Durbin in her quest for retribution. A Broadway actor, he sounds and acts in the Tom Drake-style, and that is a compliment. Gladys George, Gale Sondergaard, Richard Whorf work well under Siodmak. Perhaps the public wasn't ready for Durbin and Kelly as 'hostess' and 'psycopath', and that is a shame. Despite the whitewash of some of the novel's elements, this is a very very fine film, and Deanna Durbin, wherever you may be these days, you are to be sincerely commended. Thanks for this one!!
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