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Great Christmas Film from 1947
whpratt124 December 2007
Enjoyed seeing this film which has a Christmas theme and concerns three adopted men who have gone in different places in the world after being adopted by their Aunt Matilda Reed, (Ann Harding). George Raft, (Mario Torio) had a background of serving time in prison and escaping into a foreign county. The second adopted son is George Brent,(Michael Brooks) who is a con-artist and the third son is Randolph Scott, (Johnny) who is an alcoholic and is a sort of burned out cowboy from the West. Their Aunt Matilda wants to locate these adopted sons and have them at her house on Christmas eve. The reason she wants to bring the family together is she is fearful her nephew is trying to cheat her out of her fortune, as she is very rich. This story goes into great detail about each of her sons which is very interesting with plenty of comedy, drama and even three babies get involved. Cute Film.
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Family First
ROCKY-1918 December 2006
Those who have seen "The Sons of Katie Elder" and the much more recent "Four Brothers" may sense some surface resemblance to this forgotten holiday movie. An eccentric old heiress (Ann Harding) in trouble needs her long-lost sons to come to her rescue by Christmas Eve before her nephew Philip (Reginald Denny) takes control of her fortune. In this case, her three sons were adopted as infants and left as soon as they could make their own way in order not to sponge off a kindly lady who gave them everything.

We first meet Michael (George Brent), a spendthrift playboy whose debt puts him at Philip's mercy. Mario (George Raft) is an escaped con now running a night club in South America who falls into the clutches of an escaped Nazi. Jonathan (Randolph Scott) is a rodeo cowboy barely scraping by out west who has a strange experience at a baby mill. While on the surface each is a specific stereotype, as soon as they learn of their adoptive mother's predicament - she savvily holds a press conference - all priorities fall in line. A certain nobility despite their failings is a reaction that bonds them as a real family.

Brent is bland as usual playing bland comedy with Joan Blondell clinging on to spice things up. As expected, a slimmed down Raft gets some romance, some fighting and some tragedy. Scott has to deal with that kind of "cowboy talk" that only exists in movies, where everything is a ranch metaphor, but he's charming. Harding (actually younger than all of her "sons") stretches to play double her age, and comes across just fine. Denny is variously a rat and a skunk, but he gets his. Wonderful and very busy character actor John Litel is the FBI agent after Raft. Back in '40, he played an unfortunate truck driver in Raft's "They Drive By Night" and years later was coincidentally in "The Sons of Katie Elder." "Christmas Eve" has no big emotional kick and little holiday sentimentality, but there is genuine family affection. It is not a special film, the story lines somehow both stereotypical and nonsensical. It can be stodgy and it's easy to see why it's little remembered. Clearly everyone in it was capable of better, yet there are satisfying moments.
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A bit rickety now, but this three-part story of family ties still works...and George Brent's timing was never better
Terrell-427 January 2008
What's a mother to do? If she's the seriously rich, eccentric but still shrewd Mathilda Reed, now in her late seventies or early eighties and living alone with servants in a huge mid-town Manhattan mansion, and her untrustworthy nephew attempts to gain control of her fortune by having her declared incompetent, the answer is simple. She'll call upon her three sons. The trouble is, she hasn't heard from the grown men in years. The three came to her as wards. She adopted them and raised them. But when they were grown, each decided to leave and make his own way. They didn't want to be a burden or to live off their mother's fortune. Mathilda Reed (Ann Harding) may be a wonderful old woman, but her sons are something else.

There's Michael (George Brent), a high-living ne'er-do-well who finances his expensive tastes by kiting checks and who hopes to marry a rich woman. His girlfriend, Ann (Joan Blondell), is starting to get impatient.

There's Jonathan (Randolph Scott), who went west and now is a broken down but charming rodeo rider who sometimes has to pawn his saddle.

And there's Mario (George Raft), a fugitive from the law who went to South America and prospered as a shady nightclub owner. He can't return to the States without the FBI picking him up.

Mathilda Reed is a fighter. She goes public with a press conference, hoping her sons, wherever they are, will hear about her need for them. She hires a private detective to try and locate them. They have to return by Christmas Eve to block Phillip's plans.

Will the three men make it? Will they even try? Well, of course they will. So we spend most of our time in three short stories. We watch how Michael, amusing and unreliable, gets himself under Phillip's thumb with those bad checks and then starts to get himself out. We watch how Jonathan, back in New York, finds himself involved in a phony adoption scam and winds up with three baby girls and a great-looking girlfriend. We also hear a lot of Hollywood home-on-the-range dialogue...all those "heifers." We see Mario take on a Nazi fugitive, with fistfights and gunfights, before he leaves for New York with the FBI right behind him. And on Christmas Eve, with snow drifting down, with the mansion alight, with the tree gorgeously decorated and the Christmas punch made, Mathilda Reed, her nephew and the judge sit waiting. Sure enough, first Michael and Ann arrive. Then Jonathan and his three babies. And last comes Mario, with an FBI man right behind. We learn everything is going to turn out all right, even for Mario. The "crime" he left the States over was really committed by another. Phillip's scheme is dealt with and so is Phillip. Most importantly, we learn that the idea of family, played up with a little sentimentality and a sometimes serious but often amusing screenplay, can get the job done.

The movie is a little corny at times, especially with Ann Harding, younger than each of the actors playing her sons, doing the trembling and wise old lady bit. Her makeup would convince only the oldest residents of an assisted living center. Raft, Scott and Brent each do fine jobs. Raft, of course, is Raft, and his story is the most serious. Scott does a charming turn as the rodeo cowboy who winds up with an instant family. And George Brent, who was even better as a skilled farceur and light comedian than he was as an all-purpose leading man (watch him in 1947's Out of the Blue), is a joy to watch. All three were at turning points in their careers. This was Scott's last non-Western movie. Brent was fading fast as a star. Raft was starting to make a series of poor movies. Still, for me the movie works emotionally as the story of how three very different men drop whatever they're doing, for some at great risk, to return to help the woman who raised them and gave them the values that they have. When the three start to greet each other with pleasure in their mother's mansion on Christmas Eve, maybe it's just good acting but they look like they mean it.
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Kind of a Let-Down
utgard1421 December 2013
I was excited to see this film due to its cast and a premise that sounds ready-made for a great Christmas story. The movie's plot is that the greedy nephew of a rich old lady (Ann Harding) wants her declared mentally incompetent so he can have complete control of her fortune. The old lady, however, wants to leave her money to three adopted sons (George Brent, George Raft, Randolph Scott) she raised but hasn't seen in years. A judge postpones his decision until Christmas Eve, when she says her three sons will return to her. The bulk of the movie deals with telling the stories of the three sons, who have all grown up to be less-than-reputable men.

Sadly, this isn't a great film. There's many reasons for this. For starters, why is this old lady played by a 45 year-old Ann Harding in bad makeup? There was no shortage of fine elderly actresses in Hollywood at the time. Any one of them bringing some authenticity and warmth to the role would have helped the movie quite a bit, instead of Harding's doddering portrayal. Also, the three stories of the sons aren't great and seem oddly disjointed. Raft's dark story in particular stands out against the other two stories, which are much lighter in tone. It feels like they took three story ideas for other movies and cobbled them together to make this.

Lastly, the main reason I think this fails is that its ultimate point, that the boys love their mother so much they return to help her despite any trouble it may cause them, falls flat when you stop and consider that when she dies they become rich!!! I mean who wouldn't show up to help the old crow if there was a payday at the end of it? Look, I know it has a great cast but they can only do so much. It's got quite a bit wrong with it and I just scratched the surface. The biggest problem really is that, for a Christmas movie, it doesn't really give me a Christmasy feeling. See it for the curiosity factor and the assembled talent. But keep expectations low.
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Christmas EVE (Edwin L. Marin, 1947) **1/2
Bunuel197627 December 2011
The perennial title in itself but especially the splendid cast rounded up for this Christmas movie should have earned it durability but, instead, its genuine oddity has ensured its obscurity; in fact, it was later retitled as SINNERS' HOLIDAY for theatrical reissue purposes (despite there having already been a non-festive 1930 film featuring James Cagney and Joan Blondell by that name!) and, much later, another unrelated (and made-for-TV) one called Christmas EVE in 1986 that was Loretta Young's much-heralded return in front of the cameras!!

There are three male leads in the film – George Brent, George Raft and Randolph Scott – playing the three adopted sons of eccentric millionairess Ann Harding (a weird casting choice if ever there was one, seeing how she is younger in real life than her on screen off-springs and, consequently, sports heavy make-up to appear older!) who is on the point of being declared insane by duplicitous relative/guardian Reginald Denny (who while outwardly concerned about Harding's reckless philanthropic spending is actually interested in appeasing his own creditors). Harding (dutifully waited upon by an unrecognizable Dennis Hoey as her butler!) assures visiting Judge Clarence Kolb that this Christmas Eve at least one of her wayward sons will come to her rescue and the film then episodically trails the path (via Harding's investigating detective Joe Sawyer) taken in life by each individual before reaching the inevitable all-inclusive happy ending.

And so it is that we meet up with playboy Brent, who is on the point of hooking up with an heiress – an attachment he badly needs in order to cover up a run of $75,000 in fraudulent cheques that are currently doing the rounds about town – but true love intervenes in the shape of his ditzy friend Joan Blondell!; although this was a plot line worthy of Preston Sturges in his prime, the heavy-handed treatment it receives here renders it the least effective segment of the lot. Next up is George Raft's lording it over in South America and stepping on the toes of fugitive Nazi Konstantin Shayne in the process – not least because of his attachment to the latter's feminine associate, Virginia Field!; the violence and downbeat nature (the latter is felled by a bullet and Raft is eventually apprehended by FBI agent John Litel) of this episode jars considerably with the Capra-esque sentimentality of the main narrative strain but is nonetheless interesting for that. It is worth noting here that director Marin had just directed Raft in the noir NOCTURNE (1946; which I also own but have yet to watch) and that he had also helmed the 1938 MGM version of A Christmas CAROL! The third and last part is the corniest but also the most enjoyable as we watch second-rate rodeo rider Randolph Scott getting mixed up in Douglas Dumbrille's adoption racket as he is convinced by attractive undercover agent Dolores Moran (in her first film for future husband, producer Benedict Bogeaus) to pose as a married couple looking to acquire some kids! The eventual confrontation between the two parties earns the film its biggest laugh when Scott, gun firmly in hand, invites Dumbrille to "Raise (his) arms to the perpendicular"!
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kogrone12 December 2007
This film is absolutely charming. It is fun, keeps you in a bit of suspense and the acting is wonderful. The story is really three in one. Three adopted son's must come home before midnight on Christmas Eve in order to save their mother's home. George Raft is spectacular as the gangster/misfit son and Ann Harding does a great job as the aged mother although that is one roll that may have been played better by someone who was actually elderly. Harding was only in her forties and at times her performance was a bit flawed. Randolph Scott is perfect in his cowpoke roll and Brent is perfect as the playboy. Add in Joan Blondell and Virginia Field and the cast is really complete. The chemistry and sparks between Scott and Field's is so cute. Blondell does what she does best as the blond bombshell. The cast overall is superb and you have the joy of watching three stories unfold. This movie is wonderful to watch any time of the year but especially at Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is shared in that family is more important than self.
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Considering the cast, the film was pretty dreadful
planktonrules27 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Christmas Eve" is a very strange film and is difficult to score. While the film had some familiar actors and actresses, the overall effort was very confusing and muddled--like they took several very different films and attempted to morph them together. The plot is just too strange to fully put into words--and it isn't all that good.

The film begins with a rich old lady being visited by her nephew, a judge and a psychiatrist. It seems that the nephew is trying to have the court intervene because he's worried the old lady will throw away her fortune by giving it to a wide variety of charitable causes. While it's obvious that this is a very eccentric woman, it's still uncertain if she indeed is in need to court intervention. Oddly, the lady announces that her three adopted sons (who she hasn't heard from in years) will all return for Christmas Eve once they hear of her plight and they will prove that they are capable of handling her finances if necessary. So the judge agrees to return at that time before he makes the decision whether or not to make the nephew the executor of the estate.

What follows are three separate stories that seem to illustrate that the three grown adopted sons (George Brent, George Raft and Randolph Scott) are a bit flaky. Brent spends money he doesn't have, Raft is living abroad because he's wanted for a crime in New Orleans (and, unbeknownst to him, his girlfriend is an ex-girlfriend of a wanted Nazi) and Scott seems like an overgrown 8 year-old. Eventually, though, despite their strangeness, you learn that they aren't quite as bad as you'd think (especially Raft) and they all return for a Christmas Eve reunion.

All three of the stories vary from annoying to exciting to comedic--leaving me feeling a bit confused. What also confused me was how poorly written and executed some of the characters were. For example, why Joan Blondell follows Brent around annoying him is rather unclear and her character seems desperate and stupid--and you wonder why Brent doesn't just get a restraining order against her! So naturally, when the film ends, he asks her to marry him! Also, Randolph Scott's segment is supposed to be funny as he stumbles into a baby selling racket(!). Along the way, he meets a pretty young lady and only a few hours later, they are making plans to marry!! Only the Raft story, though confusing, seems to work--though its mood and style doesn't at all fit in with the fluff that makes up the other two stories.

Now I can see that many of the reviewers really liked the film--probably because of the cast. As for me, the fact that this film has a very good cast actually makes me like the film less--as they should have been able to do a lot more with what they were given. I should have realized this was a sub-par film because I had never heard of it before it came on AMC this year--it's obviously a rather forgotten film--and with good reason. The writing was poor (too much sticky sentimentality and low comedy) and the overall product was just too choppy and disjoint. There are many, many better older Christmas films out there waiting to be discovered--such as "A Holiday Affair". This one, on the other hand, should stay obscure and forgotten.
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I am writing this review 69 Years to the day of its initial release
Christmas-Reviewer31 October 2016

Matilda Reid (Ann Harding) is in danger of being declared senile at the urging of her nephew, Phillip (Reginald Denny). To keep him from controlling her estate, Matilda must find her three adopted sons, who left home long ago. One of them, Michael (George Brent), lives in New York, where he's incurred a $75,000 debt. Another, fugitive Mario (George Raft), is hiding in South America. The last, Jonathan (Randolph Scott), is a small-time cowboy. All three must come home to save Matilda's fortune.

Now this film is nice change of pace from "HALLMARK MOVIES". The cast brings the most out of a screenplay that is most confusing. I have to admit that I watch this in over 3 evenings so I will have to re- watch it again. The film is enjoyable. I will watch it again.
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The Geste Brothers Return Home For The Holidays
bkoganbing8 December 2008
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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A Christmas wish will come true, no matter the stakes or the estate!
mark.waltz25 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
One is wanted for passing bad checks; another is wanted for escaping from prison. The third somehow becomes involved in the exposure of an illegal baby racket. They are the three adopted sons of eccentric spinster Ann Harding, a New York millionairess whose nephew (Reginald Denny) is trying to have her declared incompetent. The sons she took in as young boys are George Brent, George Raft and Randolph Scott. they haven't seen her in years, having gone out to find their own way in the world and not all of them doing it honestly or with integrity. As Harding waits for them on Christmas Eve to come home to help her out, their situations come to shocking conclusions but where is there is a will, there is a way, and after all, this is Hollywood and somehow, all comes together at the end to have mainly happy endings for everybody.

Only in her mid-forties when she made this film, leading lady Ann Harding, one of the great forgotten stars of the early 1930s is put in old age makeup, but it's feisty enough to protect herself against the attorneys hired by her ruthless nephew. The women in their lives are the feisty Joan Blondell, the shady Virginia Field, and the determined Dolores Moran who is involved in the illegal baby racket. Each of their situations are dramatic and in Raft's case, extremely violent.

This is a Christmas movie simply in the fact that it is set on Christmas Eve as stories involving family estates could basically take place at any time of the year. it is a mixed bag of sentimentality and loyalty, with some of the incidence more well-written than others. Among the supporting cast are Clarence Kolb as Harding's seemingly honest attorney, Douglas Dumbrille as the mastermind behind the illegal baby ring, and John Litel as an FBI agent out to bring Raft to justice. Harding's casting would have been made more sensible had there been a flashback showing her character at a younger age with a three younger versions of the male leads. She instills dignity however into the character, but considering that she was in the same years Christmas-themed "It Happened on Fifth Avenue" playing her real age, it is obvious that her heavy old age makeup is a gimmick that didn't work as well as it did for Barbara Stanwyck in "The Great Man's Lady" several years before. A nice holiday spirited ending wraps everything up nicely.
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strange film
blanche-210 December 2012
Ann Harding plays an old spinster whose fortune is about to be taken over by her nephew (Reginald Denny) in "Christmas Eve," a 1947 film also starring George Raft, George Brent, Randolph Scott, and Joan Blondell.

Harding is Matilda Reed, a very wealthy old woman living in a New York mansion. Her nephew is about to have her committed and take over her fortune, but before the Judge can take action, Matilda begs him to stop by on Christmas Eve to meet her three sons, assuring him that they will stand by her. These were three children she adopted as babies. Even though she has no idea where any of them are, she is certain they will be there as soon as she makes the fact that she needs help public.

The boys took off when they reached adulthood to make their own way and not take advantage of her.

We then see where they are now and what they're doing, which in a way is like three separate movies, particularly the Raft section, which is way out there. The first son is Michael (Brent), who is bouncing bad checks but engaged to a very wealthy woman. However, Blondell is in love with him and manages by her very presence to drive the fiancé away.

The next brother is Mario (Raft) living in Argentina, on the lam from a bad deal in Washington, D.C. He can't return to the states. His girlfriend has $10 million given to her to hold by her escaped Nazi boyfriend, and Mario finds himself in the middle of the Nazi trying to get his money back.

The third brother is Johnny (Scott), a rodeo rider drafted by a woman (Delores Moran, who wound up marrying the producer of this film) who needs a husband while she undertakes an investigation of a baby adoption racket.

An episodic film in the extreme which doesn't hold together despite a charming cast and some fun dialogue. It could have been a much sweeter and funnier film, but the script was weak.

"Christmas Eve" is far from horrible, has some good parts, but in the end is disappointing.
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Fine nostalgic presentation
caa8219 December 2007
I would not have caught this film on AMC, late on a Sunday evening, except I had to be up to receive a business call from Europe, to come early Monday morning there, and after 1 a.m. my time.

My opinion of it would agree - almost word-for-word - with "Rocky's" favorable one of the two prior ones in this comment section.

So I won't add any duplicate detail, except to say that I thought the performances were all credible, and particularly enjoyed the nostalgic aspects as well as the story line itself.

Seeing movies such as this, with stars who have long departed, at points when their careers still had a number of years left, adds an extra dimension, even where the work may fall short of "Citizen Kane, or "Gone With the Wind."

And perhaps of equal - or even greater - interest is seeing such a cast filmed in the mode of productions as made decades ago.

A good, solid 7 or 8* film, but, in my opinion, rating 9* with the cast nostalgia provided,
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Round Up The Usual Suspects
boscofl25 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Boasting an amazing cast the 1947 film Christmas Eve squanders that advantage with an episodic, poorly-written story and pedestrian direction. This could almost be considered a Warner Brothers reunion movie with old contract players George Raft, George Brent, Joan Blondell, John Litel, and Joe Sawyer peppering the cast but none of that studio's staccato pacing or streamlined storytelling can be found here. Unfortunately it emerges as a tired tale with aging former stars passing into history and leaving us with memories of better days.

The plot, such as it is, concerns a rich old lady (30s star Ann Harding) who's eccentric behavior has her facing the booby hatch thanks to her scheming nephew (Reginald Denny). The only thing that will prevent this occurrence is the intervention of her three estranged foster sons (Raft, Brent, and Randolph Scott) on Christmas Eve. We are treated to three separate vignettes establishing their characters which are only connected in that they learn their beloved mom is in dire straits and needs their assistance.

The three leads only inhabit about a third of the picture each and reunite for maybe 5 minutes at the end. George Brent portrays a scheming playboy with minimal flair; he is loved and pursued by the wonderful Joan Blondell who does her best to inject life into the tired script but is ultimately defeated by poor dialogue and sketchy motivation. Why she would be interested in a middle aged Brent is anybody's guess. George Raft enacts an exiled nightclub owner with a soft spot for his foster mom and must sacrifice the most to assist her. Anyone who is remotely familiar with Raft's career particularly at this stage knows exactly what's coming from the performer: he's tough, gruff, and sympathetic in a performance he sleepwalks through. Most interesting by default is Randolph Scott as an amiable rodeo rider with a never-ending patter of Western colloquialisms that grow increasingly irritating. He shares scenes with the stunning Dolores Moran as they break up a phony adoption agency. Scott seems to have had his hair darkened for this role and looks older than he would in his upcoming string of Western hits in the 1950s.

The supporting cast is a veritable who's who of familiar faces: Reginald Denny, Douglass Dumbrille, Dennis Hoey, Walter Sande, and the aforementioned Litel and Sawyer. Ann Harding (who was the same age or older than her 3 cinematic "sons") is tough to endure with her very theatrical take on old Aunt Matilda; she dodders around and performs all the schtick associated with younger people enacting their elders. The best performance comes from Miss Blondell although gorgeous Dolores Moran (wed to producer Benedict Bogeaus) gives her a run for her money simply by being so easy on the eyes.

Despite the stellar cast and undeniable interest it drums up for fans of classic cinema Christmas Eve is a misfire. The main culprit is the script; the story is all over the place in tone and is ham-fisted in the way it ties all the narratives together. Why it doesn't include a final episode where the brothers unite and defeat a common foe is a mystery. One can only imagine the likes of Raft, Brent, and Scott sharing a sequence together and playing their established screen personas off one another for the pure gold it could have been. Instead, the film emerges as a lazy endeavor that is content with only their name value to lure customers in. That is the true disappointment.

Disclaimer: other than the deceptive title and the finale taking place on the title day this is in no way a Christmas movie.
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A novel plot idea that doesn't get off the ground
SimonJack3 December 2016
"Christmas Eve" had an original idea for a holiday film. It has some far out subplots that would need a great screenplay to make it work. But unfortunately, the screenplay is quite weak. So, instead of a solid plot, this film is four short stories loosely pieced together. Very rich Aunt Matilda (Ann Harding made up as an octogenarian) is about to lose control of her estate to a conniving nephew, Phillip Hastings (played by Reginald Denny). She asks Dr. Bunyan (played by Douglass Dumbrille) and Judge Alston (played by Clarence Kolb) to hold off on any decision about her eccentricity and ability to manage her affairs. She asks them to be sure to come to her house on Christmas Eve, where they will meet her three "sons."

The three were orphans whom she took in and raised. None of them would sponge off her, so they set out on their own after school. There's no effort to have these guys any younger, so they all look to be their actual ages – around 45. Aunt Matilda hasn't heard from a single one of them for years, but now she knows they'll come to her rescue if they know she needs their help. From there, the movie segues into sub-plots with each of the three "sons." In between each one, we go back to Aunt Matilda and her private eye's report on the previous son.

The first is Michael (played by George Brent), with his girlfriend, Ann Nelson (played by Joan Blondell). The next is Mario Torio (played by George Raft), and the last is Johnny (played by Randolph Scott). Some other supporting cast contribute – Virginia Field plays Claire, Dennis Hoey plays Williams the butler, Dolores Moran plays Jean Bradford, John Litel plays an FBI agent, and Joe Sawyer plays Gimlet, a private detective.

The three sons' subplots are a little wacky in themselves. They involve dodging the FBI, a sweetheart who was a darling of a top Nazi and who ran off with his millions, and an undercover social welfare agent trying to unearth a black market for adoption of kidnapped babies.

About the only reason to watch this film is to see the large cast of one- time big name actors along with many other longtime supporting actors. There isn't much of a Christmas theme beyond the notion that everything is supposed to come together on Christmas Eve. As it turns out, Aunt Matilda was a shrewd old cookie who knew more than anyone suspected. But, it's hard to imagine why none of her three adopted sons wouldn't at least have sent her a Christmas card or note once in a while over so many years.

There's nothing special about this film, and none of the performers shine. It's certainly not something to recommend for the holidays.
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Not quite coherent bit of fluff
bluerider52122 December 2013
I have a feeling that this picture was meant to be quite different. For one thing, Ann Harding, a woman in her 40s plays an eighty year old. The usual reason for doing this is that the script can have flashbacks (long flashbacks) to her youth. Not here. Since Harding's star had faded years before, she would not have been hired just for the marquee value of her name. There was probably a big chunk of the original script unused.

Her sons have to show up on Christmas eve to show that they can manage her estate, otherwise this management is given to a shady nephew. Similar crises have been a solid structure for films for years. We then see the three sons is scenes from their current lives, every scene in the genre for which each of the three male leads were then famous.This is the great weakness of this movie. These scenes were just poorly, even amateurishly, done. George Brent's romantic comedy was neither romantic nor funny. Poor Joan Blondel wears herself out running around trying to add some humor to the scene, but without funny lines, she can't.

George Raft has gangster/foreign intrigue problems to deal with. He handles his situation quickly, too quickly for any tension to develop. Finally, Randolph Scott is-what else?-a cowboy brought into an adoption racket investigation by Dolores Moran. Moran seems to be imitating Joan Blondel: plenty of movement and energy, but she is sunk by insipid lines. Moran, one of sexiest performers to ever be on the screen, looks almost dowdy and exudes zero sexual energy.

Happy ending, of course. Pleasant enough movie to watch, but what was it supposed to be originally? Probably, a much better movie.
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Sweet hope for the holidays
marydavis-424-61450520 December 2015
Aunt Matilda and her fortunes are in jeopardy from her nephew Phillip who has supposedly been managing her money for years. Matilda's generosity has her at risk of being declared mentally incompetent. She convinces the judge to wait until Christmas Eve so that her 3 adopted sons can return and take over.

We see each of the sons in a situation which puts him in a bad light. Michael is a bit of a playboy/aspiring gigolo with a determined girlfriend who won't let him get away no matter what. Mario, playing by George Raft, is the George Raft version of Humphrey Bogart's Rick set in South America instead of Casablanca. His encounter with a Nazi costs him the lady he wanted in his life. And Jonathan, rides into town on the train, not a horse. He gets caught up in a baby selling deal but comes out ahead with 3 babies and a great new girlfriend.

As Christmas Eve ticks away Phillip is sure they won't show. The judge is about to give up on waiting when one by one they make their entrance.
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odd trio of stories and genres doesn't quite gel, but still fun
OldAle18 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Aunt Matilda Reed is a strange, rich old lady living in a New York mansion, with a nephew who want to get hold of her dough, but is she strange enough that he can get a court order giving him power over the estate? Not if she can get her 3 adopted sons back by Christmas time to stop him....

This basic idea was probably old even by 1947 and there have certainly been many variations on the theme done since, but probably few of them are made up of more disparate elements. George Brent is the first of the sons we meet, a ne'er-do-well playboy intent on dumping vivacious but poor Joan Blondell for a dull but wealthy new playmate -- his segment is essentially screwball; next up is George Raft in a really intense, noir-spy story involving ex-Nazis in South America and quite a bit of gun violence and fisticuffs -- not what you'd expect in a typical Christmas story! Finally Randolph Scott comes along with his cowboys swagger to New York to get involved in a baby adoption ring and pick up a fair maiden who's trying to bust it, and they all meet up (with 3 new adoptees-to-be) at Aunt Mathilda's, apparently just in time.

There's nothing exciting about the plodding direction here by Edwin L. Marin, and the stories are fairly preposterous and seem lifted right out of other movies, but the cast is charming enough and I had fun wasting two hours -- I guess that's enough for a Hollywood Christmas movie sometimes.
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Cute family Xmas flick
HotToastyRag22 July 2021
1947 was the year of great Christmas movies. Miracle on 34th Street and The Bishop's Wife are probably your go-to flicks for season, but this year, check out a couple of ones you might not have heard of: It Happened on 5th Avenue and Christmas Eve.

In Christmas Eve, Ann Harding dons a bunch of age makeup to look like a little old lady. She's alone as Christmas approaches, but she's not sad. She's waiting for her three sons to arrive. Twenty years ago, she adopted three wards, and she loved them so much they became her sons. Now, they're all on separate paths, but will they find their way home for Christmas?

Amidst the heartwarming fun, you'll see George Raft, a gangster who falls for the wrong dame in South America. Next up in Randolph Scott, a gun-toting cowboy (of course!) who gets roped into a woman's plan of exposing a corrupt adoption center. And the third son is George Brent, a charming playboy who can have every woman he wants. He needs to learn the art of settling down, which Joan Blondell will be happy to teach him. This movie boasts an unlikely cast, but they all work well together. And it's the last time you'll see Randolph Scott in a non-western. Form now on, he's strictly outdoors.
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Is this a comedy
Ann Hardin in old-lady makeup wants to give her fortune to the terrorist organization known as PETA or something. Lawyer is aghast. Wonders why her three adopted sons aren't inheriting.

Cut up three mini-movies about the sons.

The George Brent section (part 1) is too farcical to be taken seriously and has Joan Blondell in it. It plays like an outtake from a script that was probably in development since about 1932.

The George Raft section (part 2) is about an exiled ''legitimate businessman" who also might just be hooked up with a Nahtzie sympathizer. As you might guess, it's not the least bit funny. It's more like a WWII propaganda film that was still looking for a distributor when the war ended.

Part 3 stars Randolph Scott as a lecherous cowboy who likes tall drinks. It is neither funny nor dramatic. In fact, it's more than a bit disturbing. It's probably a snippet of an un-released Randolph Scott film that was so terrible it's what pushed Scott into making only westerns for the rest of his career.

All three aging sons end up back at mom's house. Ann Harding is actually older than Raft and Scott, and only 2 years younger than Brent. Were there no legitimate age-appropriate actresses in Hollywood for this role?

Contender for worst Christmas movie of all time.
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Great actors, poor casting
paulpan-0659325 December 2021
The storyline has such promise. Three sons go off in the world to make their aunt proud. How can this film be a miss with the lineup of actors and Anne Harding?

What an example of miss casting, especially aunt Matilda's role.
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