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Archive for June 27th, 2021

by Allan Fish

Christmas in July (USA 1940 67m)  Note:  this is the first of a number of Allan Fish reviews that have not previously been published at Wonders in the Dark.  I plan to add two per week.

Grand to the last gulp

p Paul Jones d/w Preston Sturges ph Victor Milner ed Ellsworth Hoagland m Sigmund Krumgold art Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick

Dick Powell (Jimmy MacDonald), Ellen Drew (Betty Casey), Ernest Truex (Mr Baxter), Raymond Walburn (Dr Maxford), William Demarest (Bildocker), Alexander Carr (Shindel), Franklin Pangborn (Don Hartmann), Al Bridge (Mr Hillbeiner), Jimmy Conlin (Arbuster), Torben Meyer (Schmidt), Rod Cameron (Dick), Adrian Morris (Tom), Julius Tannen (Zimmerman), Georgia Caine (Mrs MacDonald), Lucille Ward (Mrs Casey), Robert Warwick (juror),

When the writer of Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living and Remember the Night was offered a chance to direct one of his own scripts it was a turning point in Hollywood history. Preston Sturges may have beaten Orson Welles to the writer-director’s chair, but the likes of Rowland Brown had been there before him. But who remembers Brown now? Both Sturges’ first two efforts have the feeling of sketches compared to his later masterpieces, like a master chef experimenting with a new dish. The Great McGinty is now more of interest as a precursor to The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, while Christmas in July seems an off the cuff frivolous piece. One could imagine Sturges sitting in the Paramount studio canteen, ordering a coffee, seeing a typical slogan and then proceeding to sketch out its outline on the back of a cigarette packet.

So enter Jimmy MacDonald and Betty Casey, lovebirds on a New York rooftop, arguing over their intentions to get an apartment, and even over whether a one room place is an apartment at all. Jimmy’s tetchy because he’s awaiting an announcement on the radio, an announcement from Maxford House coffee to see who wins the $25,000 first prize for writing their new slogan. Millions of others across the country are listening impatiently, but in Jimmy’s case it’s an obsession. He can’t stop entering contests, and his latest effort ‘If you can’t sleep at night, it ain’t the coffee, it’s the bunk!’ is hardly one to make Don Draper adjust his tie. His enthusiasm is kept on ice because the grand announcement is delayed; the twelve jurors are locked, eleven to one. And while Jimmy waits with the 2,947,582 other hopefuls, his anxiety leaves him open to pranks at his place of work. His colleagues send a telegram telling him he’s won the first prize. He proceeds to go out to the biggest department store and splash the works on gifts for his mother, neighbors and an engagement ring for Betty. (more…)

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