Since we’re slowly approaching the winter festivities and holiday season, I thought it would be special and talk about forgotten or holiday themed movies that do get overlooked. The movie I have selected to review takes place during Christmas Eve and Day without any of the morals and holiday spirit, giving it the Die Hard spirit of movies.
The movie, Christmas Holiday, stars Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly (who is actually playing the villain of the film). This movie was made in 1944 and is a movie that breaks the typecast of what both actors were usually known for. Kelly was known for being a spectacle dancer, singer and showman and Durbin was a musically gifted singer as well. This movie is a sad, dark drama with not much happiness to go around. That being said, is the movie good and does it give you the holiday feels? We’ll judge the movie based on plot, characters and the holiday spirit that the title offers us. Let’s hitch a ride and go on this journey as we explore Christmas Holiday.
The movie is a sad look at love and lies. The movie is about a young lieutenant on leave and gets stranded in New Orleans on his way to San Francisco due to thunder storm. He was going there because his fiance or woman who promised to marry him decided to marry someone else. While in New Orleans, he gets taken to a club where he meets a young woman named Jackie. Jackie seems like a distant or aloof woman who seems to be pining from days long gone. She confides into the lieutenant and she tells him the story of meeting her husband and what lead to her being alone in the club on Christmas. Gene Kelly plays the estranged husband of Jackie. Its a touching and sad story that shows how love sometimes isn’t enough and addiction sometimes can ruin anything and everything. The plot is simple but you get lost into the dialogue and you feel for the characters even when they do horrible acts toward their fellow townsmen.
The characters make the movie worth watching. Deanna Durbin plays a somber club singer down on her luck and comes off like she is experiencing loss and could be dead inside. Her dialogue is done very well without a filter, using her experience of loss and love to help the lieutenant that sometimes love isn’t enough and there has to be more. Gene Kelly, the villain in the movie, is charming as usual and shows us some glimpses of stern and even angry tone when he talks about murder and his gambling addiction. This is so different than what we’re usually used to with Gene Kelly.
This is the guy who would smile at the screen, do a soft shoe dance and sing a little jazzy diddy making such a spectacle. What we see in this movie is a down played actor with a more vindictive motive. I enjoyed the way Deanna and Gene play off each other. These are crafty and clever actors, who play off each other so well to the point where it almost looks like we’re watching a real life couple having conversations with each other, even if the main fault of Gene Kelly’s character, comes out of nowhere.
The holiday spirit is quite low by the time the audience joins the story. This whole story takes place during two days of Christmas Eve and Day and we learn about the tragic story of a woman not being with her husband and the faults of both of them either being naive or not having proper communications with each other. The story is quite sad and depressing without much hope for a happy resolution.
This movie could’ve taken place on any other day and it would still be treated the same. The only Christmas motif included the flashback when the lieutenant and Jackie went to Christmas Eve mass at the local church and Jackie breaks down and has a crying spell. Due to that event, we start learning about her past and the events. That is the only thing about Christmas that really stands out. Without that scene or if the scene was altered based on the holiday, we could still get the same events leading to the flashbacks. The fact that it was during Christmas doesn’t really offer anything special to the audience, except the possibility of more people being together celebrating and drinking and partying. This is a movie that could maybe make you feel grateful for everything you have because it could be worse and you could be like Gene.
Overall, this movie was good. It had some good dialogue, great acting by both lead characters, and a simple story just done very well. I was pleasantly surprised that Gene could play the serious villainous role and sort of wishes he could have taken more roles similar to his filmography. Deanna Durbin was acting very well and sung some nice blues style songs. I think this is a forgotten movie that should not be forgotten. I don’t know why people often don’t remember this film, maybe because it’s called Christmas Holiday. People were expecting more festivities and more feelings of the holiday to celebrate Christmas more and this movie is a sad and depressing look at a woman’s failed marriage. I think this is an underrated movie and should be treated better. Is it a Christmas movie? Well, that’s a tough call. Like Die Hard, that takes place during Christmas, this is similar. This is a movie that happens to take place during Christmas and does offer some church choir scenes, so I guess it does sort of make it a Christmas movie. Is it one for the whole family to enjoy? No, this isn’t that kind of movie. If you enjoy Gene Kelly as an actor, classic black and white film and some interesting dialogue, then this movie would be a good fit for you.