The greedy nephew of eccentric Matilda Reid seeks to have her judged incompetent so he can administer her wealth; but she will be saved if her three long-lost adopted sons appear for a Christmas Eve reunion. Separate stories reveal Michael as a bankrupt playboy loved by loyal Ann; Mario as a seemingly shady character tangling with a Nazi war criminal in South America; Jonathan as a hard-drinking rodeo rider intent on a flirtatious social worker. Is there hope for Matilda? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)"
Written by Frederick Oakeley and John Francis Wade
Played during the opening credits
Sung by offscreen carollers near the end
Played by church bells near the end See more »
In a reworking of the plot of Beau Geste, imagine if you will the Geste brothers leaving the Foreign Legion and coming home to save their the lady who raised them as wards from the depredations of her blood nephew and you've got Christmas Eve. Ann Harding took in three orphans and they all went out on their own and haven't really kept in touch with Harding. They've all chosen three different roads of life and they haven't made a great success in any way.
Which leads us into three different stories as each foster son hears about what Harding is going through and her public call for help. The strongest of the stories is Raft's who is leading a Lucky Luciano like exile in South America where he owns a club, has his hands in the local rackets, but can't return to the USA. Of course he gets back as do the others, but the story is in the how.
George Brent is a part time playboy, part time conman who is ready to marry a bankroll in Molly Lamont to the chagrin of longtime girl friend Joan Blondell. The weakest story and silliest is Randolph Scott's who is a rodeo cowboy who while on the way home gets himself involved with Dolores Moran who is a reporter trying to break up a baby adoption racket run by Douglass Dumbrille.
Reginald Denny is the nephew and that's another weakness in the plot. He's actually shown at first to be sincerely concerned about his aunt and truth be told Harding's getting a bit dotty. In the end he's revealed rather suddenly to be not at all as he seems, but it comes from out of nowhere, a bad script weakness.
Despite glaring plot weaknesses, Christmas Eve does survive on its own special brand of charm and I've seen worse during the Holiday season.
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