Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Christmas in July (1940) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Kino Lorber has recently had a lineup of particularly good new releases, several of which I'll be reviewing here in the near future.

One of those films is CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1940), which was released this week by Kino Lorber alongside the British Christmas film THE HOLLY AND THE IVY (1952); the latter film will also be reviewed here soon.

CHRISTMAS IN JULY technically isn't a Christmas film, but one of its main themes is about the happiness which comes from helping others, making it particularly good viewing at this time of year. It's a short little 67-minute classic written and directed by the great Preston Sturges.

CHRISTMAS IN JULY is the story of Jimmy (Dick Powell), an office clerk who believes he's won a fortune in a contest by creating a new ad slogan for a coffee company.

Jimmy has been stuck in a dead-end job and suddenly has enough money to marry his sweetheart Betty (Ellen Drew) and make life better for his family and friends. The day of his win holds many more surprises which won't be spoiled here; along the way Sturges' script explores additional themes such as the importance of hope and the pitfalls of celebrity.

Powell and Drew are excellent, with Powell particularly moving as a frustrated man who suddenly finds himself living a joyous dream, with money to spend and bright job prospects ahead. The pretty Drew's career wasn't especially splashy but she worked steadily and gave excellent performances in a number of films, including JOHNNY O'CLOCK (1947), which reunited her with Powell, and STARS IN MY CROWN (1950) with Joel McCrea. CHRISTMAS IN JULY is another strong performance from Drew.

The film is a who's who of great character faces, including Raymond Walburn, Franklin Pangborn, William Demarest, Rod Cameron, Ernest Truex, and Ferike Boros.

The movie was filmed in black and white by Victor Milner.

I first reviewed this film here in 2008 and saw it again at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. This is a good one to return to every few years, so I was delighted to watch it again thanks to this beautiful new Kino Lorber release. The print is lovely.

The interesting audio commentary by film historian Samm Deighan delves into Sturges' films and their themes; she also comments on other aspects, such as the very realistic strain underlying Jimmy and Betty's relationship. (That angle was frankly a surprise to me the first time I saw the film, as it's portrayed in a different tone than one tends to see in that era.) It's a thoughtful and well-researched commentary which added to my enjoyment of the film.

Additional extras are the trailer and a gallery of trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

Another lesser-known Sturges film released the same year, THE GREAT MCGINTY (1940), will be released by Kino Lorber in January.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older