A young femme fatale-type woman realizes that the wealthy man she married is an incorrigible wastrel.

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(novel) (as Somerset Maugham), (written for the screen by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Jackie Lamont / Abigail Martin
...
Robert Manette
Richard Whorf ...
Simon Fenimore
Dean Harens ...
Lt. Charles Mason
...
Valerie De Merode
...
Mrs. Manette
...
Gerald Tyler
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Storyline

A young femme fatale-type woman realizes that the wealthy man she married is an incorrigible wastrel.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Durbin... In her most dramatic glory. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

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Release Date:

30 June 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

W. Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday  »

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 17, 1945 with Loretta Young as Jackie/Abigail, William Holden as Lt. Mason, and David Bruce as Robert Manette. See more »

Goofs

After Robert breaks out of jail, the newspaper spells his last name as "Mannette", however the spelling of the last name in the end credits is "Manette". See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Corporal: [to the soldiers] You are now about to become Officers of the Army of the United States.
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Connections

References Casablanca (1942) See more »

Soundtracks

Selections from 'Tristan und Isolde'
(uncredited)
Music by Richard Wagner
Played by orchestra in concert hall
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User Reviews

 
Vacationing with the troubled and the forlorn.
26 December 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Christmas Holiday is directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted to screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz from the novel of the same name written by W. Somerset Maugham. It stars Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, Richard Whorf, Dean Harens, Gale Sondergaard and Gladys George. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography by Elwood Bredell.

The title is a bit of a bum steer, the presence of Durbin and Kelly a splendid slice of red herring casting, and the written notices on the internet announce that the source material was watered down for this filmic adaptation. All of these instances mark Siodmak's film out as a fascinating oddity, and certainly of high interest to film noir lovers.

Plot essentially has Durbin telling Harens in flashback how her life crumbled around her when she married Kelly. She thought he was a wealthy gent full of charm and love, but soon she comes to realise that he's a rascal with underlying issues, not helped by his mother, a witch like Sondergaard.

Had Siodmak been able to go full tilt with the characterisations here, we would have most likely been privy to one of his finest dark noirs, he was after all one of the great purveyors of such devilish delights. Yet even though there's a frustration that some of the bolder elements of Maugham's prose are not overtly evident, there's still a dark heart beating away, with suggestions of prostitution, incest and homosexuality dangling in the air, baiting those who in the classic eras adhered to censorship.

Siodmak and Bredell don't over saturate via noir filters, but as the story moves between seedy New Orleans clubs and Gothic churches, the sense of everything being out of sorts is amplified by smoke and lighting techniques. The pace is very up and down, and not all the director's scene constructions help the narrative be all it can be, but his knack for emphasising certain thematics via tone and responses from his actors is very much evident here.

Thematically it's all very glum, America gone bad, love and romance are mere illusions. From the opening sequence as Harens – having served in the war for his country – receives a "Dear John" letter, to the striking denouement, this is anti-love and a portrait of a self loathing country readily able to accept corruption and the dark bents of human nature. The strong performances by the leads, supplemented by the wonderful Sondergaard (you know things are going to be creepy when she's around), and the Oscar nominated score by Salter round out the many strengths of Christmas Holiday.

Not one to cheer you up at the yuletide season, and far from perfect with its draggy mid-section, but this is hugely effective film noir and fans of such will get plenty of miserablist rewards from it. 7.5/10


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