Christmas Holiday (1944)
Christmas Holiday Photos
Critic Reviews for Christmas Holiday
Stylishly directed by Robert Siodmak, this film noir is uncharacteristic fare for both Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly.
A sharp departure into salacious territory for sugar-and-spice star Deanna Durbin
Audience Reviews for Christmas Holiday
most depressing christmas movie ever tho it's kinda fun watching gene kelly play a killer
Deanna tries something different and does very well by it. This tough little noir was a film that she had insisted on doing to try and break away from the Mary Sunshine roles that were her stock in trade. It's lack of success at the box office kept Universal from letting her tackle different roles for the rest of her career and contributed to her retirement a few years after this, although she hated the movie business so even if it had been a smash she probably would have still called it quits. Her performance is strong as the "dance hall hostess/singer" who the film manages in roundabout ways to make clear is a prostitute. One of the film's strengths is while of course they find a way to have Deanna sing her songbird is not singled out as special. Sure she sings much better than most roadside canaries but the patrons hardly break from what they're doing while she performs and her style is subdued almost beaten down, especially during Spring Will be a Little Late This Year. Her version of Always is achingly beautiful though full of hopelessness and despair. The picture is also fortunate to have two outstanding character actresses among the cast, Gale Sondergaard reserved and conflicted as the no account Kelly's mother and the great and underappreciated Gladys George in her typical role of the been around goodhearted but tough owner of the joint where Deanna has landed. Where the film is weakest is in the male cast members. Richard Whorf is good as the huckster for the road house who pulls Dean Harens into Deanna's sphere where he learns her sad tale but Harens while not bad doesn't really make much of an impression on screen. He is just a catalyst for the actual story to kick in so his blandness doesn't hurt the picture. That only leaves Gene Kelly who again while not bad is the wrong actor for the part. His glib facileness suits the lout he's playing but there is no underlying menace to his personality that would have punched the innate danger of the character across, John Garfield would have been ideal and taken the film from being good, which it is, to extraordinary which it just misses. Still well worth seeking out.
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