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Featured Movie-related Item: Christmas Holiday (1944)

For this post in our continuing series on movie publications in the Prange Collection, we are featuring Christmas Holiday, starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly. The film was released by Universal Pictures in June 1944 in the United States.  An excerpt from the screenplay in English and Japanese was published by Kokusai Shuppansha/國際出版社 in 1947 under the Japanese title, “Kurisumasu no kyuka/クリスマスの休暇“.” (See the front cover below.  Prange Call Number PN-0237).  This publication has been digitized and is available full-text onsite at the University of Maryland Libraries and onsite at the National Diet Library of Japan (NDL) through NDL’s Digital Collection.

Gene Kelly is known for his roles in musicals during the 1950s, so you might think that a movie entitled, Christmas Holiday, would be a holiday-themed musical or prehaps a romantic comedy.  And while there is plenty of music in the film (which earned an Oscar nomination for Music Director Hans Salter in 1945), this crime drama adapted from a novel by W. Somerset Maugham is darker than you would expect.

So, are you wondering what this movie is actually about?  Let’s find out by meeting the characters, presented in the order in which they appear:

Lt. Charles Mason (Dean Harens): He’s a newly commissioned officer who gets stuck in New Orleans on Christmas Eve. He stays at a hotel to wait for the weather to clear. While getting a sandwich at the hotel bar, he meets…

Simon Fenimore (Richard Whorf): He’s a local reporter. After discussing Charles’ travel problems, Simon suggests going to a nightclub to meet Valerie, who might be able to fix his problem.

Valerie De Merode (Gladys George): She’s the hostess at the Maison Lafette [sic].  Unfortunately, she can’t really fix his problem.  The planes are grounded, the trains are all booked. Charles is just going to have to wait.  While he’s waiting he meets…

Jackie Lamont/Abigail Manette (Deanna Durbin): Jackie is a singer at the club.  She and Charles go to Midnight Mass, and afterward she reveals that her real name is Abigail and her husband is in prison for murder.  Through flashbacks, she tells Charles the sad tale of her courtship and marriage to…

Robert Manette (Gene Kelly): He is a Southern aristocrat from a prominent family.  He has trouble living up to his family’s high standards, due to gambling debts and unemployment.  Despite all of that, Abigail falls in love with him after they meet at a concert.  About six months later, when a bet goes wrong, Robert kills a bookie.  Abigail finds out after the police search their apartment. He is convicted and sent to prison.  After that, Abigail runs away and changes her name to Jackie Lamont. But Robert escapes from prison and comes to the club to talk to his wife one more time…

Well, we don’t want to spoil the ending, do we??

In September 17, 1945, the Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a production of Christmas Holiday (You can listen to a recording of the show, #406, here). The Jackie/Abigail part was played by none other than Loretta Young, the star of The Farmer’s Daughter, which we featured in March of this year.

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