Christmas Holiday (1944) DVD

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Christmas Holiday (1944)


Robert Siodmak


W. Somerset Maugham (novel), Herman J. Mankiewicz (written for the screen by)


Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, Richard Whorf
Don't be fooled by the title. Christmas Holiday is a far, far cry from It's a Wonderful Life. Told in flashback, the story begins as Jackie (Deanna Durbin), marries Southern aristocrat Robert Monette (Gene Kelly). Unfortunately, Robert has inherited his family's streak of violence and instability and soon drags Jackie into a life of misery. When her husband commits murder, Jackie is compelled by Robert's equally degenerate mother (Gale Sondergaard) to cover up the crime. When Robert is arrested, Jackie, tormented by the love she still holds for her husband, runs away from the family home, changing her name and securing work as a singer in a New Orleans dive. Robert escapes from prison and makes his way to Jackie's dressing room. Holding a reporter hostage, he threatens to kill both Jackie and the waylaid sailor who has been listening to her story. An astonishing change of pace from Deanna Durbin's usual lightweight musical fare, Christmas Holiday (based, believe it or not, on a story by W. Somerset Maugham) is one of the bleakest film noirs of the 1940s. Durbin is merely adequate in her role, but Gene Kelly gives a disturbingly convincing portrayal as a man virtually devoured by his inner demons. Robert Siodmak directs with his usual flair, using a taut, suspenseful screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz.

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    A Touch of Film Noir for Musical-Comedy Stars

    Posted by Warren Wyss on Feb 15th 2018

    It's hard to imagine two of Hollywood's favorite romantic musical-comedy stars, Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly, playing melancholy lovers in this bleak nourish melodrama based on a Somerset Maugham novel "Christmas Holiday." But for the most part they succeed--she as the always faithful wife, he as the cad. Framed by flattering film noir camera techniques, the two stars shine, even when the story gets a bit unbelievable. We even hear Ms. Durbin belt a couple of lovely melodies, which are welcome in such a sad story. It's fun to watch character actors Gladys George and Gail Sondegaard in supporting roles.

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