- Christmas in July (film)
Christmas in July
Directed by Preston Sturges Produced by Paul Jones
Buddy G. DeSylva (uncredited)
Written by Preston Sturges Starring Dick Powell
Music by John Leipold
Cinematography Victor Milner Editing by Ellsworth Hoagland Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) October 18, 1940 Running time 67 minutes Country United States Language English
Christmas in July is a 1940 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges based on his 1931 play A Cup of Coffee. It was Sturges' second film as writer-director, after The Great McGinty, and stars Dick Powell and Ellen Drew.
Jimmy MacDonald (Dick Powell) dreams of winning the 'Maxford House Coffee Slogan' contest and its $25,000 first prize, and becoming rich enough to take care of his mother and to marry his girlfriend Betty Casey (Ellen Drew).
Three of his co-workers devise a prank, meant as a joke, and place a fake telegram on Jimmy's desk informing him that he has won the contest. Wishing to be done with the contest, Dr. Maxford (Raymond Walburn), the owner of Maxford House Coffee, accepts that Jimmy is the winner and hands him the check of $25,000, without realizing that the judging committee is still deliberating.
Jimmy is now seen as a hidden advertising talent at work, and is given a major promotion and the afternoon off. He and Betty embark on a shopping spree. Purely on the basis of the check, Jimmy is given credit to buy an engagement ring for Betty, a luxury sofa-bed for his mother, and presents for many of the poor families that live on his street.
Soon the truth emerges and the shop manager descends on Jimmy's street where a carnival atmosphere of celebration is taking place. Dr. Maxford follows soon after.
With the truth out, Betty pleads with Jimmy's boss to let him keep his promotion. Meanwhile the judging committee at Maxford House have finally reached a decision. Unknown to them, the winning slogan is in fact Jimmy's, and a telegram is dispatched to the winner.
- Dick Powell as Jimmy MacDonald
- Ellen Drew as Betty Casey
- Raymond Walburn as Dr. Maxford
- Alexander Carr as Mr. Shindel
- William Demarest as Mr. Bildocker
- Ernest Truex as Mr. J.B. Baxter
- Franklin Pangborn as Don Hartman (announcer)
- Harry Hayden as Mr. E.L. Waterbury (off. mgr.)
- Rod Cameron as Dick (co-worker)
- Adrian Morris as Tom Darcy (co-worker)
- Harry Rosenthal as Harry (co-worker)
- Georgia Caine as Mrs. Ellen MacDonald
- Ferike Boros as Mrs. Schwartz
- Torben Meyer as Mr. Schmidt
- Julius Tannen as Mr. Zimmerman
- Al Bridge as Mr. Hillbeiner (jeweler)
- Lucille Ward as Mrs. Casey
- Kay Stewart as Maxford's secretary
- Victor Potel as Davenola salesman
- Christmas in July was the first and only time Sturges worked with Dick Powell and Ellen Drew, but the film is populated by many of the character actors he used regularly in his films. Aside from William Demarest, they include George Anderson, Al Bridge, Georgia Caine, Jimmy Conlin, Harry Hayden, Arthur Hoyt, Torben Meyer, Charles R. Moore, Frank Moran, Franklin Pangborn, Victor Potel, Dewey Robinson, Harry Rosenthal, Julius Tannen and Robert Warwick.
- This was the fourth of ten films written by Sturges that William Demarest appeared in (see note).
- Sturges makes a cameo appearance as a man at a shoeshine stand.
The working titles for Christmas in July were "The New Yorkers", "Something to Shout About" and "A Cup of Coffee," which was the name of the play Sturges wrote in 1931 on which the film is based. A Cup of Coffee remained unproduced until 1988, when Soho Rep in New York City mounted a production. In 1934, Universal hired Sturges to direct a film based on the play, but that project fell through when the studio found other work to assign Sturges to, such as doctoring the script of Diamond Jim. Once that was done, Sturges' mentor at the studio, producer Henry Henigson, had left to go to Paramount, and there was no one at Universal to champion Sturges' film. Once Sturges himself moved to Paramount, he got the studio to buy the script for $6,000.
William Holden and Betty Fields were to have played the leads, with Arthur Hornblow Jr. producing.
Production on Christmas in July began on 1 June 1940 and continued to 29 June. According to author Donald Spoto in his book Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges, Sturges directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane. It has also been reported that the set was open to allow Sturges to observe the reactions of visitors when he was shooting, that Sturges helped to invent the rigged sofa used in the department store scene, and that Sturges makes a cameo appearances as a man listening to the radio while his shoes are being cleaned.
The film was released on 18 October 1940 and was marketed with the tagline: If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee - it's the bunk! The film was released on video in the U.S. on 12 July 1990, and re-released on 30 June 1993. Ironically, the rights to the film were acquired by Universal in 1962 (see EMKA, Ltd. for more info).
Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio adaptation of Christmas in July in 1944, with Dick Powell and Linda Darnell in the leads, and on 9 September 1954, NBC presented a television version on Lux Video Theatre with Nancy Gates, Alex Nicol and Raymond Walburn. The director was Earl Eby, and the adaptation was by S.H. Barnett.
- ^ Demarest appeared in Diamond Jim (1935), Easy Living (1937), The Great McGinty (1940), Christmas in July (1940), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) and The Great Moment (1944)
- ^ a b TCM Notes
- ^ IMDB Business data
- ^ Miller, Frank & Stafford, Jeff "The Lady Eve" (TCM article)
- ^ TCM Trivia
- ^ IMDB Release dates
- ^ IMDB Taglines
- ^ TCM Misc. notes
- ^ Lux Video Theatre: Christmas in July at the Internet Movie Database
- Christmas in July at the Internet Movie Database
- Christmas in July at the TCM Movie Database
- Christmas in July at AllRovi
Preston Sturges Broadway 1930s
The Big Pond (dialogue,1930) · La grande mare (dialogue,1930) · Fast and Loose (add'l dialogue,1930) · Strictly Dishonorable (prev. play,1931) · They Just Had to Get Married (uncredited,1932) · Child of Manhattan (prev. play,1933) · The Power and the Glory (writer & dialogue dir,1933) · The Invisible Man (uncredited writer,1933) · Twentieth Century (uncredited,1934) · Thirty-Day Princess (writer,1934) · We Live Again (adapter,1934) · Imitation of Life (uncredited writer,1934) · The Good Fairy (writer,1935) · Diamond Jim (writer,1935) · Next Time We Love (uncredited,1936) · Love Before Breakfast (uncredited,1936) · One Rainy Afternoon (lyrics,1936) · Hotel Haywire (writer,1937) · Easy Living (writer,1937) · College Swing (uncredited writer,1938) · Port of Seven Seas (writer,1938) · If I Were King (writer,1938) · Never Say Die (writer,1939)
Remember the Night (writer,1940) · Broadway Melody of 1940 (uncredited,1940) · The Great McGinty (writer & dir,1940) · Christmas in July (writer & dir,1940) · The Lady Eve (writer & dir,1941) · New York Town (uncredited,1941) · Sullivan's Travels (writer, dir & prod,1941) · Safeguarding Military Information (writer,1942) · I Married a Witch (unc. prod,1942) · The Palm Beach Story (writer & dir,1942) · Star Spangled Rhythm (actor,1942) · The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (writer, dir, prod, lyrics,1944) · Hail the Conquering Hero (writer, dir, prod, music, lyrics,1944) · The Great Moment (writer, dir & unc. prod,1944) · I'll Be Yours (writer,1947) · The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (writer, dir & unc. prod,1947) · Unfaithfully Yours (writer, dir & prod,1948) · The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (writer, dir & prod,1949)
1950s Broadway &
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