Christmas in July (film)

Christmas in July (film)
Christmas in July

theatrical poster
Directed by Preston Sturges
Produced by Paul Jones
Buddy G. DeSylva (uncredited)
Written by Preston Sturges
Starring Dick Powell
Ellen Drew
Music by John Leipold
Leo Shuken
(both uncredited)
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.


Plot summary

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.


Cast notes:


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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

The film was released on 18 October 1940[6] and was marketed with the tagline: If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee - it's the bunk![7] The film was released on video in the U.S. on 12 July 1990, and re-released on 30 June 1993.[8] 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.[2][9]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ a b TCM Notes
  3. ^ IMDB Business data
  4. ^ Miller, Frank & Stafford, Jeff "The Lady Eve" (TCM article)
  5. ^ TCM Trivia
  6. ^ IMDB Release dates
  7. ^ IMDB Taglines
  8. ^ TCM Misc. notes
  9. ^ Lux Video Theatre: Christmas in July at the Internet Movie Database

External links

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