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Wistful Preston Sturges romance
Not as well known as "The Lady Eve" or "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek," "Christmas in July" was an unusual film for the writer-director Preston Sturges: it's more wistful, less frenetic. Though it's filled with a myriad of those wonderful character actors that Sturges loved to use to fill the frame (including Franklin Pangborn and William Demarest), it's touching in its regard for the struggling young couple (played by Dick Powell and Ellen Drew) who get swept up in the idea of winning a slogan contest ("If you can't sleep, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk!"). The romantic mood seems to be set in the Depression era, reminiscent of the scripts that Sturges wrote for those Depression comedies "The Good Fairy" and "Easy Living": innocents get swept up in mistaken identities and come out winners anyway. Maybe it's not as manic as his classic romantic comedies, but it has its share of hilarious moments and it's full of charm.
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Enjoyable Sturges flick...
cereal_1115 July 2002
This may be my favorite Preston Sturges film. It's as well written and well crafted as anything he made after it. Sturges had a knack for creating unique characters and throwing them into even more unique situations.

Jimmy MacDonald is absolutely determined to make money the easy way; by winning a contest. A few of his coworkers, aware of his desperation to win an upcoming contest, decide to send him a telegram in order to make him believe he's won the recent contest, along with the enormous cash reward. What begins as a cruel little joke (to find out how Jimmy would react to winning) becomes something much bigger. It wouldn't make sense for me to explain the plot any further; much of the enjoyment in watching the film comes from how it unpredictably unfolds.

"Christmas in July" is rather unusual in comparison to some of Sturges other movies, namely his two most famous films, "The Lady Eve" and "The Palm Beach Story". It contains more pathos and less sexual innuendos, but it never becomes cheap, manipulative melodrama. It's also quite short in comparison to his other movies, but it's all the better for it.
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Community jest...
jc-osms4 February 2009
Short and sweet, bright and breezy, but not without pith, this early Preston Sturges feature helped further establish his "wonder-kid" reputation in the early 40's before his great classics "Sullivan's Travels", "The Lady Eve" and my favourite "Hail The Conquering Hero".

The simple premise of a hoax win in a national coffee-slogan competition for ordinary average nice-guy Powell is the springboard for a light morality tale along the lines of "he who does good has good things happen to them" - although not without the usual series of ups and downs, just as you'd expect.

Of course nobody here is really bad, even the duped killjoy Mr, no make that Dr Maxford of the sponsoring coffee company or Mr Shindler of the too-trusting department store from whom Powell buys gifts for the whole neighbourhood on the strength of the phony winning telegram placed on his desk by his prankster work colleagues. Even when he finds out that his win is bogus, Powell can't get angry at the tricksters, so it's no real surprise that his homeliness, honesty and humility wins everyone over, including his feisty girl-friend, played by Ellen Drew, with the predictable twist in the last reel that Powell's slogan wins anyway.

Powell is very likable in the lead, although Drew is a little too high-pitched in delivery for my taste as the film develops. There's the usual troop of madcap eccentrics which peoples almost every Sturges comedy, with some nice little cameos, I particularly liked the actor playing the deadpan cop, not above making some contemporary allusions to Hitler & Mussolini to stress a point.

The dialogue of course is mile-a-minute vernacular and I got a kick out of Sturges' Dickensian word-play over triple-barrelled lawyer's names (along the lines of "Swindle Cookum and Robbem!"). Right from the start, we get the "screwball comedy" template of a poor Joe and his girl, dreaming of something bigger waiting for something extraordinary to happen, with Powell and Drew's extended night-time scene on their New York apartment roof-top, and succeeding entertaining scenes including Powell's reaction to "winning" the competition and best of all the frenetic crowd scene when Maxford tries to get his money back only to cop a batch of rotten fruit ("Don't throw the good stuff" admonishes one parent to a tomato-wielding youngster), it's all good clean fun and ends up happily ever after. And get a load of that "zoom" shot back into Maxford's office at the end - it certainly got me out of my chair, not the last time Sturges employed camera tricks of this type - remember the memorable stop-start sequence to "The Palm Beach Story".

The movie celebrates community, the little guy who dreams of making it big and how to meet disaster with alacrity, in short a feel-good movie with a big heart, well worth an hour and four minutes of anyone's time.
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A treat any time of the year.
matusekpres26 March 2003
Could this be one of Preston Sturges's most profound comedies?

In addition to being one of the funniest and most underappreciated. In "Sullivan's Travels," Preston Sturges has the

Joel McCrea character speak admiringly of fellow director Frank

Capra. In "Christmas in July" possibly Sturges was trying to teach

Capra how to handle sentiment without falling into sentimentality --

the scene where Dick Powell is handing out presents to his

neighbors, and he gives a doll to a crippled girl in a wheelchair --

a remarkably tender moment in the midst of a hectic scene -- done

with just the right touch, One of my favorite lines occurs when

bug-eyed Raymond Walburn sarcastically tells contest-winner

Powell, "I can't wait to give you my money!" Sturges also shows

that you can have plot complications without resorting to villains --

no Capraesque class warfare here -- rich and poor are equally

lovable -- even gruff William Demarest.
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Smarter than you may at first think.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
On the surface this effort from the brilliant Preston Sturges looks like a standard sugar coated feel good movie, but strip away the outer skin and you get a delightful collage of comedy, romance, satire, drama, and nudge nudge observations about hunger of wealth and all the spin offs that wealth creates.

I don't deem it unfair to state that the films core plot of frivolity may not be to everyones taste, but to me personally it ticks all the boxes for a joyride with more at its heart. The pace of the film is more in keeping with screwball comedies of the great era, but that is not to say that the film doesn't shift down a gear for poignant reflection, because it does , but ultimately the film is full of hilarity from many quarters, that is acted out accordingly from a sparky cast, and of course directed by a deity .

A joyous winner that prods you in the ribs and gives a cheeky wink along the way 9/10.
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A gem!
moonspinner557 May 2002
Joyous dose of whimsy from writer-director Preston Sturges, who always managed to wring both sentiment and cynicism from a fairy tale premise. Here, Dick Powell is a working-class guy who's under the impression he's won $25,000 in a coffee-slogan contest. Short at 70 minutes, but sharp as a tack, this is a wonderful stroll through Hollywood's Golden Era. Powell is terrific and Ellen Drew is equally good as his sweetheart. Watch it and enjoy! ***1/2 from ****
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B&W-26 April 1999
Sturges's directorial effort is astonishingly funny. He creates such winning characters, and then does such terrible things to them! It's amazing how he is able to walk a tightrope between satire and sentimentality. The Sturges company is in place already, watch for Walburn as Dr. Maxford, everything he says is a marvel of pomposity! Powell and Drew make an appealing working-class couple, yearning to be together, but lacking the funds to get married. You will laugh, and you will be sucked into Jimmy's plight! Modern comedies could learn from Sturges, Stevens, Capra, et al.; it's fun to laugh at, and with, people that we like...
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"It's not the coffee. It's the bunk!"
theowinthrop18 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As the follow up to "The Great McGinty" Preston Sturgis returned to an old play of his that was written in 1931 and called "A Cup Of Coffee". Sturgis, for all of his cynical slant in his comedies and screenplays, had a pretty accurate view of the American Dream. In "Christmas In July" the hero is trying to make it to fame and fortune overnight - by winning a jingle/slogan contest on the radio. And the truth of the situation is far more complicated than we credit it in being.

Powell has entered every contest he can, figuring that the law of averages will eventually come to his assistance and win him the big prize. He doesn't stop to think that the same viewpoint is held by everyone else who is competing against him. He also does not like the regular hard work ethic that is pushed by his office manager (Harry Hayden) to concentrate on his job and you will be a success - not spectacular but one who meets his debts and looks the world in the eye. Powell is not opposed to hard work, but he hates being one of the herd of numberless drudges like most of us.

He has gotten three of his office friends so fed up with his constant sweep-stake fantasies that they decide to send him a fake telegram that he has won the Maxford House Coffee sweepstakes. He has a slogan "If you find you can't sleep at night, it is not the coffee, it's the bunk!" Cute (a pun of course), he keeps explaining it to everyone who couldn't care less. But the Maxford House Radio show which was supposed to find a winner is unable to reach a timely decision (William Demerest is trying to convince them to favor one that he thinks is a snappy slogan, and Robert Warwick wants a more formal and dignified short slogan). Taking advantage of this impossible tie situation, the trio send their false telegram - and Powell and his girlfriend Ellen Drew go crazy.

But that's just it - everyone goes crazy. Powell's boss Ernest Truex, who has rarely given him a second glance, when he hears about this thinks Powell is a business genius and starts considering promoting him. The staff of his accounting firm and various businessmen all bow and scrape to him. The three friends who play the joke find it has gotten so out-of-control that they can't stop it (they don't dare to). The joke even is pulled over the coffee company owner, Dr. Maxford (Raymond Walburn, who almost steals the film from Powell). Maxford is disgusted by the way the slogan jury under Demerest won't do as he orders, and he is totally prepared to accept the fake telegram as proof that the same committee didn't even bother to notify their employer first!

The film is pretty funny throughout, as Powell enjoys the height of glory and the depth of despair as the truth about the telegram hits Maxford and the people from whom Powell has been buying goods (gifts for his family and friends - since it is summer the title of the film makes sense). But in a society that worships success, should it penalize someone who innocently seemed to be successful but wasn't? The conclusion of the film suggests that some trial and error is required, but Sturgis still finds that the hand of fate may be necessary to allow someone to show his or her full potential.
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A simple story, told perfectly.
MartinHafer28 October 2010
This is probably my favorite Presto Sturgess film--and I am not sure wonder why it's one of his least famous films. This is because although the story is quite simple, it's presented absolutely perfectly. The dialog, the characters and everything about the production is top-notch. In fact, it's so good I give it a 10--something I actually do pretty rarely. But it has got to be one of the best comedies of its time--in the same league as great comedies such as "Bringing Up Baby", "His Girl Friday" and "Arsenic and Old Lace" (all, incidentally, which starred Cary Grant).

The film stars Dick Powell and Ellen Drew. I have always liked Powell in films where he didn't sing--he had a nice presence about him and was underrated as an actor. As for Powell, he, too, hated the singing in all his earlier films and I am sure he liked having a break in the usual routine. However, if you've seen many of writer/director Sturgess' films, you'll know that the real stars of his movies are the wonderful supporting characters. Raymond Walburn is simply terrific but Franklin Pangborn, William Demerest (who seems to be in almost EVERY Sturgess film) and Ernest Truex are just wonderful and add so much color to the movie.

Powell plays a guy who is always entering jingle contests (something rather popular back in the good 'ol days) but keeps failing. He is especially excited about a coffee company that is giving away a $25,000 first prize--and that's all he thinks about or talks of to his fiancé or at work. To play a joke on him (a very, very unfunny one), one of his co-workers decide to send him a phony telegram saying he's won this contest. As soon as this occurs, an unexpected chain of events takes place and the joke goes spiraling out of control. I'd say more, but I don't want to ruin the film. Just see the movie--it will give you quite a few laugh out loud moments and is clever and supremely well-constructed. A must-see.
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How a film ought to be made.
Peasprout1 October 1999
I'm a film buff...I watch movies of all sorts all the time. But Christmas In July may well be my favorite film of all time. It is well-constructed, tightly executed, and just plain hilarious. I've never laughed harder at any film then I did during the seen where Dr. Maxford gives Jimmy the check.

As always Bill Demerest is great. The entire cast shines in this film. I'd advise anyone striving to become a writer/director of films to study this film. This is how it ought to be done.
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Free for All
lugonian26 November 2006
"Christmas in July" (Paramount, 1940), the second feature entirely written, produced and directed by Preston Sturges, following his initial success of "The Great McGinty" (1940), ranks the director's most mellow comedies, compared to his future efforts as "Miracle on Morgan's Creek" 1944). In spite of his reputation for his wild and crazy plots, along with his familiar assortment of bizarre characters, "Christmas in July" could understandably be mistaken for a Frank Capra film, a theme not so much on how a good fortune changes the common man, but how much the common man unselfishly changes the lives for the good of others.

The plot is relatively simple: James MacDonald (Dick Powell) and his fiancé, Betty Casey (Ellen Drew), sit on the rooftop of their New York City apartment building listening to the radio where the name of the contest winner for the best slogan is to be announced. Wondering about the delay, Maxford (Raymond Walburn), president of Maxford House Coffee Company, heads over to the room where he finds the jury (consisting of Sturges stock players of Dewey Robinson, Arthur Hoyt, James Conlin and Robert Warwick), headed by its foreman, Bildocker (William Demarest), unable to decide upon the winner. With time running out, Maxford has the very nervous Donald Hartman (Franklin Pangborn) go on air to postpone the name of the winner until further notice. Because he had entered many contests in the past, Jimmy is confident that his slogan,"If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk." to be a sure winner. The following morning, Jimmy reports to his office clerical job to find a telegram on his desk naming him as winner of the Maxford contest. Overly excited, Jimmy stands on top of his desk where he makes his announcement to his fellow co-workers. Not only does Mr. Waterbury (Harry Hayden), his supervisor, grants him time off to collect his $25,000 prize, but he is immediately promoted to vice-president under Mr. Baxter (Ernest Truex) as a reward for his good fortune. After Jimmy collects the check from Maxford, who's unaware and confused why he hasn't been informed of the jury's decision, Jimmy takes Betty to Schidel's Department Storewhere where he buys her an engagement ring, and using the rest of the check to purchase gifts for everybody in his neighborhood. The Christmas in July celebration comes an abrupt end when Maxford, realizing his error after finding Bildocker still unable to come up with the decision, to arrive at the scene, accompanied by Mr. Schnidel (Alexander Carr) of the department store, to take back everything, including the check, and expose Jimmy as a fraud. A neighborhood riot ensues before Jimmy and Betty are confronted by three of their co-workers, Tom (Michael Morris), Dick (Rod Cameron) and Harry (Harry Rosenthal) who confess to what was originally intended as a practical joke. Now that reality has set in, what's Jimmy to do? Will he be working a lot of overtime hours to pay for his purchases? Will Maxford sponsor more contests? Will the judges get to come up with the winner before next Christmas?

A Christmas story that's not necessarily about Christmas nor the 4th of July for that matter, but how it is more blessed to give than to receive every day of the year, not just on Christmas. While "Christmas in July" is at best when poking fun of the current trend of radio contests, the story simmers down only when centering upon the poverty-stricken couple Jimmy and Betty, yet, in true Preston Sturges tradition, throws in surprises here and there to hold interest and keep his audience laughing and completely satisfied in how everything is resolved. As much as Sturges could have selected good-natured actors as Gary Cooper, James Stewart or Henry Fonda in the leads, Dick Powell, former crooner of Warner Brothers musicals from the 1930s, making his Paramount debut, turns out to be a fine choice, particularly at this point of renewing his screen image. Aside from the plot it development of its leading characters, Jimmy being an average guy, engaged to a nice girl, living with his widowed mother (Georgia Caine) in a tenement apartment whose ambition is to succeed, Sturges also does a remarkable job with his assortment of neighbors of different ethnic background gathered together in the neighborhood sequence to appear very much true to life. He adds a touch of sentimentality with a memorable bit as Jimmy awards Sophie (Sheila Sheldon), a wheelchair bound girl, with an expensive doll she can call her own. Surprised as well as speechless, she looks up to Jimmy before hugging the gift like a new born baby, which is enough thanks any giver can ever receive. And thanks to Sturges for such a fine motion picture leaving us with something to think about, "If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk."

This seldom revived comedy gem that says it in 67 minutes made it to video cassette in 1985 at a high price of $59.95, followed by several cable television presentations, such as the Disney Channel (1991- 1996) and Turner Classic Movies where it premiered in 2002. It's 2006 availability on DVD will assure renewed interest for both movie and the comedy films of Preston Sturges. (***1/2)
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A Winner
kenjha7 January 2010
A clerk making $22 per week dreams of winning the $25,000 grand prize in a coffee company's slogan contest. Sturges' second directorial effort is not only a sweet and simple comedy but also fast-paced and efficient, wrapping up in just over an hour. As the ambitious but earnest sloganeer, Powell basically plays the role of the straight man, surrounded by loony characters, including Walburn as the flustered owner of Maxford House, not to be confused with Maxwell House, and Sturges regular Demarest as one of the judges of the contest. Despite the short running time and the emphasis on comedy, Sturges manages to make the characters human.
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Have a Cup of Coffee with Preston Sturges
wes-connors27 June 2009
Coffee company clerk Dick Powell (as Jimmy MacDonald) enters a sloganeering contest with the catchphrase: "If You Can't Sleep at Night, It Isn't the Coffee, It's the Bunk!" Mr. Powell thinks the slogan is as "clear as crystal," but pretty, pragmatic girlfriend Ellen Drew (as Betty Casey) is unmoved. Although his slogan is confusing, Powell is optimistic about winning the $25,000 prize. The next day, Powell is anxious to learn if he's won the contest; and, three of his practical-joking co-workers send him a phony telegram stating, "We take great pleasure in informing you that your slogan has won the twenty-five thousand dollar first prize…"

Powell excitedly picks up his prize, from cantankerous Raymond Walburn (as Maxford), who doesn't know his executives haven't yet picked the winner. Powell plans his wedding to Ms. Drew, and buys gifts for most of the people in his lower-class neighborhood. Drew says he's spending money like it's "Christmas in July." Then, the prank is discovered…

Writer/director Sturges' bright satire is still amusing, after all these years. Like "Maxwell House" coffee, it's "Good to the Last Drop" - perhaps, the story could be revised, for the "Starbucks" era (many of the Sturges lines don't need changing). The supporting players - Mr. Walburn (Maxford), Alexander Carr (Schindel), William Demarest (Bildocker), Ernest Truex (Baxter), and others - are excellent.

******** Christmas in July (10/18/40) Preston Sturges ~ Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn
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up there
zetes18 June 2001
Christmas in July is nearly as good as Sturges' masterpieces, Sullivan's Travels, The Lady Eve, and Miracle at Morgan Creek. It's a nice film. The actors are good. It's funny and well directed. You couldn't ask for much more in a film. 10/10
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The Bunk, Folks, Don't You Get It?
bkoganbing17 April 2009
For his second film as a director, Preston Sturges was given a slightly bigger budget than he had with The Great McGinty. With that he went and hired a star, not too big a star mind you, but one who was looking for something decent to play and was quite at liberty.

The star was Dick Powell who had finished his Warner Brothers contract and spent a year away from the movies. Though Christmas In July might have seen at first glance as silly as some of what he was trying to get away from, Powell did recognize the talent of Preston Sturges and signed for this one shot deal.

Sturges chose to satire in Christmas In July, America's obsession with radio contests, a subject that later would be used for television in the James Stewart film, The Jackpot a decade later. Powell has thought of this clever jingle for Maxford Coffee, a play on words, 'if you can't sleep at night, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk' which he tries explaining to any number of people, to his girl friend Ellen Drew and to his co-workers where he toils at a dreary desk job.

Co-workers Rod Cameron, Harry Rosenthal, and Adrian Morris decide a nice practical joke is in order and fake a telegram to Powell from Raymond Walburn, the head of Maxford Coffee, saying Powell's jingle won. Powell naturally goes giddy with the thought of $25,000.00 and does as the telegram directs, goes to Raymond Walburn who thinking his jingle committee has actually come up with a winner, cuts him a check.

Powell is a very decent sort and thinks of a lot of people in his neighborhood whom he'd like to help and spends it on them. It's quite a letdown for all involved when it all turns out to be a hoax.

Christmas In July like all really great comedy has its elements of pathos as well. This same scenario could easily have been the elements for great tragedy as well. Powell and Drew register the highs and lows of their characters very well.

By now Preston Sturges had established his noted stock company of players, most of whom appear in Christmas In July. One of them, William Demarest proves the savior of the situation, an ironical savior to be sure when you see the film.

Though Powell wanted to do drama and was not to get that chance until a few years later, Preston Sturges was definitely a step up from some of silly stuff Jack Warner had been casting him in. Powell showed he could handle screwball comedy with the best of them in Christmas In July.
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great movie
KyleFurr215 February 2006
This was one of Preston Sturges's best movies on his first time directing that included "The Great McGinty" and "The Lady Eve. The movie stars Dick Powell and Ellen Drew as a couple who are engaged but Powell wants to wait to get married because they don't make enough money and his mind is on a contest for $25,000 that he entered for a slogan of a coffee company. Powell's friends at work play a trick on him by writing a fake letter saying he won the prize money but once Powell opens it they can't get to him on time to tell him it's a fake. Then Powell gets a promotion and starts to buy everything for all his friends and family but not knowing it's a fake. It's a very funny movie that's one of Sturges's least known work.
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A Comic Treat At Any Time of the Year
gmatusk16 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Could this be one of Preston Sturges's most under-appreciated comedies? -- in addition to being one of his funniest. In "Sullivan's Travels," Preston Sturges has the Joel McCrea character speak admiringly of fellow director Frank Capra. In "Christmas in July" possibly Sturges was trying to suggest to Capra how to handle sentiment without falling into sentimentality --- the scene where Dick Powell is handing out presents to his neighbors, and he gives a doll to a crippled girl in a wheelchair -- a remarkably tender moment in the midst of a hectic funny scene -- done with just the right deft touch.

One of my favorite lines occurs when the owner of the Maxford Coffee Company (played by bug-eyed character actor Raymond Walburn) sarcastically tells apparent contest-winner Powell, "I can't wait to give you my money!"

Sturges also shows that you can have plot complications without resorting to stock villains --- no simplistic class warfare here, such as you'd find in a Frank Capra film -- rich and poor are equally lovable -- even gruff opinionated William Demarest. Sturges embraces all of humanity, all classes.

This film has an exceptionally satisfying "feel-good" ending --- the audience is made aware of the exuberantly happy ending before the main characters realize the change in fortune about to befall them --- the camera zooms across the city to reveal that a decision is going to unravel all the plot complications --- it's a breathlessly whirlwind revelation to the audience! A unique "feel-good" ending that tops all other "feel-good" endings! As far as I know, the first person to point out the unique nature of this ending was Dale Thomajan in his 1992 book "From Cyd Charisse to Psycho : a Book of Movie Bests."
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Madness In Marketing
Bill Slocum17 December 2014
The premise behind "Christmas In July" seems arresting: Capitalism is a sucker's game that can be fun to play anyway. Yet its execution is not sharp. This early Preston Sturges comedy is more interesting for the ideas that seemed to shape it than for anything on-screen.

Jimmy MacDonald (Dick Powell) is a lowly office drone at a coffee company who has big dreams. His latest involves coming up with a new slogan for a rival coffee company, a contest hosted on a national radio program. Surprise, surprise, he gets a telegram telling him he's the winner, but no sooner does he share his joy with the neighborhood than everything goes to pot.

Weighing in at under 70 minutes, "Christmas In July" won't overtax your patience. The bouncy concept of early 20th-century marketing gone awry is pleasant for a while. Compare it to the Depression-era films of Frank Capra, where some greedy fat cat was cheating the little guy of his just reward: Here Sturges gives us no easy villains, presenting us instead with a more sophisticated, rather disturbing if nonetheless heartwarming critique of American life.

In fact, it's a mid-manager at MacDonald's company, a guy named Waterbury whom Sturges initially establishes as a bullying bad guy in the Capra mold, who winds up surprising both MacDonald and us by graciously offering a heartfelt, humanitarian perspective on things:

"Ambition is alright if it works, but no system can be right where only one-half of one percent were successes and the rest were failures."

Waterbury urges MacDonald to let go of his dreams and focus on doing what he can, content in being able to live upright and look people he cares about in the eye. It's a bracingly fresh and balanced perspective from Hollywood, then or now.

The problem "Christmas In July" has may be related to that sensibility, though: It's stiff and takes itself too seriously most of the way through. Taken from a stage play, the film only has five or six scenes, which means Sturges doesn't give himself much room for subplots. Powell is surprisingly hard to warm up to in the central performance, and the sentimentality gets rather gooey, as when Jimmy and his girlfriend Betty (Ellen Drew, not much better than Powell) play Santa to their impoverished neighborhood, treating the kids to ice cream and a wheelchair-bound girl with her own doll. The girl has black rings painted under her eyes in case the wheelchair wasn't enough for you.

For gags, we get too much sputtering, snarling, and people putting on goofy hats. There's even people pelted with fish and vegetables. It's like Sturges went back and added this material when he realized he wasn't getting enough laughs in the reading room.

The whole marketing gimmick of coming up with a new slogan for Maxford House Coffee, because everyone agrees the old one is too tired ("Grand To The Last Gulp" doesn't sound like anything that would fly today, does it?) has potential, and MacDonald's alternative slogan is pretty funny because it is so terrible. It's long, requires convoluted logic to appreciate, and serves to remind people why they don't use the product half the day.

"It's a pun," MacDonald explains to Dr. Maxford himself.

"It certainly is," Maxford deadpans. "It's great. I can hardly wait to give you my money."

But the notion of marketing as a science people put their faith in without really understanding is only lightly touched upon. The reaction of Jimmy's employer at the other coffee company seems similarly like a wasted opportunity, as his apparent brainstorm has benefited a competitor. They just want a chance to bask in his genius, too, until it is exposed for what it really is. That's pretty much the whole of the plot, Jimmy and Betty trying to do right in good and bad times.

"Christmas In July" has some fun performances, a clever ending, and a pure heart, but don't mistake this for one of those classics upon which Sturges built his reputation.
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Christmas in July (1940)
Martin Teller12 January 2012
Short but sweet comedy about a working schnook who gets pranked into thinking he's won a big pile of cash. I really enjoyed how this movie played out, with some heartfelt turns and nice character moments that made it feel a bit more Capra-esque than your typical Sturges. It doesn't really get too manic, and just has a pleasant vibe to it. This could have been a wackier movie, or a more cynical one, but I appreciate that it didn't go in those directions. I also appreciate that it doesn't torment the audience by dragging out the misunderstanding too much. Dick Powell and Ellen Drew are terrific together, they make a charming couple, and the film sports a roster of enjoyable character actors too. The ending is a bit predictable, but other moments aren't.
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Very Good
Michael_Elliott7 March 2008
Christmas in July (1940)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Preston Sturges comedy about a poor boy (Dick Powell) with big dreams who goes on a shopping spree after he thinks he's won $25,000 in a contest. This was actually my first film from the director and I got a tad bit nervous at first because the comedy in the opening ten minutes really didn't work for me. I wasn't sure how the rest of the film was going to work with me but it was a homerun after the scene in the office where Powell thinks he's won the money. The film is certainly pretty shallow in its delivery but that works just fine since the one word that came to my mind while watching the film was sweet. The film has a sweet little idea with sweet little messages and in the end it delivers on pretty much all levels. Powell is very good in the role but it's the supporting cast that steals every scene.
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Well Worth a Purchase
Christmas-Reviewer7 August 2016
Well to kick off our "Third Annual Christmas Watching Season" we put on the classic film "Christmas in July" This 1940 Film is a Gem "Christmas in July", is written and directed by Academy Award winner Preston Sturges. In this film a workplace practical joke goes awry when an office clerk (Dick Powell), believing he has won a $25,000 prize, takes his girlfriend (Ellen Drew) on an extravagant Christmas shopping spree… in the middle of July! After they discover it was all a hoax, their spending spree turns into a wild slapstick riot. More than just a holiday heart-warmer, this madcap masterpiece is a classic gift of laughter that is perfect for every season.

The fast paced film runs only 69 Minutes but not a minute goes by without 10 laughs!
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Coffee Song
writers_reign6 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Once he got the green light to direct as well as write Preston Sturges turned out two movies back to back, The Great McGinty and this one with little to choose between them in terms of quality although plot-wise there were vast differences. By 1940 Dick Powell had wisely decided that singing was best left to those who could actually do it, like Sinatra, and though he had yet to find his niche - after Bogie he was the best Philip Marlowe of all those who had a stab at it - in Farewell, My Lovely, he makes a half-decent fist of Jimmy McDonald, a faceless clerk in a large organization who dreams of getting ahead by winning a slogan contest. There are interesting parallels here between Sturges and Billy Wilder; both were contract writers at Paramount and both turned out exceptional screenplays in the late thirties - Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Midnight, Easy Living and both lobbied to direct their own scripts and became hyphenates almost simultaneously, with Wilder's The Major and The Minor hot on the heels of The Great McGinty. In 1960 Wilder wrote and directed The Apartment in which Jack Lemmon, as C.C. Baxter is a faceless employee in a large corporation and gets ahead not by writing a slogan buy my lending his apartment to senior executives. The office in which Lemmon works is larger than Powell's but laid out on exactly the same lines and for good measure there's a character name-checked as Baxter. By now the Sturges repertory company - Franklin Pangborn, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest etc was up and running and a good time is had by all. Chock full o' nuts.
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Who Wants to Live Cheaply?
utgard144 December 2013
Smart, sentimental Preston Sturges comedy about a man (Dick Powell) who mistakenly believes he won a slogan contest and goes on a spending spree, buying gifts for all of his friends and neighbors. While this isn't the most critically-praised Sturges film, it's certainly one of my favorites. Probably my second fave behind Sullivan's Travels. At 67 minutes it's short for an "A" picture, but not so short you feel like it is missing anything.

It features a great cast, as most Sturges films do. Dick Powell and Ellen Drew are immensely likable leads. The supporting cast is full of top-notch comedic talent, many of whom were staples in Sturges films. Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Ernest Truex, and Franklin Pangborn are all terrific. Sturges wrote and directed it and, if you're a fan of his work, you know this means a funny script and great characters. This is a classic, not just for Christmas, but for the whole year round. Everybody should see it at least once. And remember: If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee. It's the bunk.
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Well, I wouldn't say it was THAT great...
RobT-225 April 2000
...but it's certainly not without merit. Already writer-director Preston Sturges is experimenting with unusual cinematic effects in telling his stories, creating broadly drawn yet distinctive characters and situations, and writing clever and sometimes unexpectedly wise and compassionate dialogue. (No wonder the Coen brothers' next movie is going to be an homage to Sturges.)

The major problem is that the plot's not all the way there yet; it lacks surprise, the unexpected plot twists and sudden changes of fortune that keep viewers guessing. The coffee slogan is a lousy thing to hang the plot upon, and the ending is thoroughly predictable. Frank Capra does this sort of thing much better.

If you're new to Preston Sturges, check out "The Lady Eve" or "Sullivan's Travels" or "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" first. If you've seen these already, then go ahead and watch this one.
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No Winner.
AaronCapenBanner10 October 2013
Dick Powell plays an office clerk named Jimmy MacDonald who loves entering all kinds of contests in hopes of winning the grand prize, including one from Maxwell House Ground Coffee. His co-workers decide to play a practical joke on him by faking a winning telegram saying that Jimmy has won the $25,000 grand prize. Ecstatic, Jimmy then goes overboard buying presents and proposing to his girlfriend, as well as receiving a promotion. When he learns the whole thing was a hoax, he finds himself in a real bind... Sporadically funny comedy is just too contrived and silly to succeed, despite an energetic cast. What a rotten trick to pull on someone too!
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