Thursday, November 30, 2017
Holiday Affair (1949)
Who's In It: Robert Mitchum (Thunder Road, The Way West), Janet Leigh (Little Women '49, Psycho) Wendell Corey (The Great Missouri Raid, Rear Window), Gordon Gebert (The Flame and the Arrow, The House on Telegraph Hill), and special guest star Harry Morgan (High Noon, MASH) as a cop in one scene.
What It's About: A woman's (Leigh) Christmas is turned upside down when her feelings for a department store clerk (Mitchum) complicate her relationship with her lawyer boyfriend (Corey).
How It Is: What a great transition from Noirvember to Christmas. I saw this (or rather, the last half of it) a few years ago and have wanted to see it the whole way through ever since. It's totally romantic comedy and if it was remade today it would go straight to the Hallmark Channel. But it's got Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh and some other excellent performances, so its a new holiday classic for me.
This is an early role for Leigh, who plays the main character Connie. It was Leigh's tenth film, but her debut was just a couple of years earlier and it's easy to see why she was so busy so quickly. She's stunningly beautiful, for starters, but she's also crazy good and totally reels me in as a young widow trying to raise her son Timmy (Gebert) on her own. She's got support, including her in-laws and her boyfriend Carl, but she's also fiercely independent and protective of her and Timmy's autonomy. That's kept her distant from Carl - who desperately wants to marry her - and it's also a problem when she meets and becomes attracted to Mitchum's Steve.
Holiday Affair is an unusual genre for tough-guy Mitchum, but he's not exactly playing against type. He's still super confident and charming; he's just not punching anyone. And he gets a lot of opportunity to interact with kids, which is adorable.
Gebert is great, too. You could swap him out with little Ronnie Howard and I wouldn't complain, but the movie wouldn't be any better. He's a good actor and super cute.
And I quite like Corey as Carl. One synopsis I read describes him as "stuffy," but that's not the impression I got. He's solid and reliable, but he's also very clearly, deeply in love with Connie. He's a great guy and I especially love a speech he gives about the relationship he wants to have with Timmy. Unfortunately for Carl, it's also clear to the audience that Connie's not in love with him. But it'll take Steve to get everyone on the same page.
The story isn't unique, but the cast is so good that I get wrapped up in their characters. This is one I'm adding to my annual Christmas marathon.
Rating: 4 out of 5 best couples ever.