Holiday Affair, Happy Anniversary! a Delicious 1949 Christmas Time-Capsule

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To say that Holiday Affair was a Christmas Eve release (most modern reports state this) is true only from the perspective that it was seen around Christmas at most theaters nationwide; another film added to that always growing list of the soft-roll-out-national-opening.

The_Post_Standard_ Syracuse, New York, Wed__Dec_21__1949_

Post Standard, Syracuse, New York, December 21, 1949

The_Nebraska_State_Journal_ Lincoln, Nebraska, Thu__Dec_22__1949_

Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska, December 22, 1949

Clovis_News_Journal_ Clovis, New Mexico Fri__Dec_23__1949_

Clovis News Journal, Clovis, New Mexico, December 23, 1949

The_Daily_Times_News_ Burlington, North Carolina Sat__Dec_24__1949_

Daily Times News, Burlington, North Carolina, December 24, 1949

Lubbock_Evening_Journal_ Lubbock, Texas Mon__Dec_26__1949_

Lubbock Evening Journal, Lubbock, Texas, December 26, 1949

 

Nor was Holiday Affair a Thanksgiving Day opening, but instead, a Thanksgiving Eve premier in New York City, at Loew’s State Theater; with showings beginning at 10:00 A.M…

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Tue__Nov_22__1949_

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, November 22, 1949

The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Wed__Nov_23__1949_

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, November 23, 1949

 

Holiday Affair is a Christmas movie filmed with an adult sensibility, romantic, witty, sometimes acerbic; this Christmas gem is a must see for the Christmas Holiday Season. Robert Mitchum performs warmly as the sentimental, amorous lead – Steve; Wendell Corey, (one of my favorite actors, underrated) smooth as always, as Carl the fiancé, the beautiful Janet Leigh as the confused widow – Connie, with young Gordon Gebert as Timmy.

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Robert Mitchum

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Janet Leigh

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Wendell Corey

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Gordon Gebert

The basic plot is simple and as far as romances go oft used. Just before Christmas, toy-department clerk Steve Mason (a World War Two Veteran) meets comparison shopper Connie Ennis. He of course knows that she is undercover but lets her go, which gets him dismissed immediately. Their new found friendship-romance causes problems with Carl (an Attorney, later playing well into the writers’ scheme) Connie’s beau,  adding tension to the already stressful situation, for Timmy (Connie’s son) likes Carl but does not want his mother to marry him, wanting everything to remain the same (just him and his mother, or as he refers to her “Mrs. Ennis”), yet, after Timmy meets Steve, he is swept off his feet and ready for mom to go down the bridal-path with this out of work clerk, to the chagrin of Carl.

Lush photography, crisp staging, droll dialog with abounding script complications makes this one-present that you won’t want to re-gift. Holiday Affair, directed by Don Hartman, screenplay by Isobel Lennart and cinematography by Milton R. Krasner.

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One year after its premier, Holiday Affair was adapted for radio broadcast for the Lux Radio Theater, on December 18th, 1950; Mitchum and Gebert reprised their film roles, for the 60 minute radio program.

Holiday Affair (released nationally on December 24th, 1949 and November 23rd, 1949, premier in New York City) received a luke-warm review from New York Times Film Critic Bosley Crowther, and did not do well at the box office, reportedly [1] losing $300,000.

Why the box-office doldrums for Holiday Affair? Possibly, the reason lies within the story itself. It was just not quite as “traditional” or “sweet” as, A Miracle on 34th Street, nor did its plot-key turn upon “ghosts of Christmas, angles of any kind or seasonal songs. The story-line that was directed to adults did not make this a family-friendly time at the movie-house for “Mom and Dad, with kids Jeff and Sue” in tow. It was better suited for young-couples, single mothers seeking hope, desultory men searching for purpose who, one and all would attend this film in the harsh realities of post-WW2 America; this may have been just a little too much, just a little too real for the audiences of 1949 to digest. For us today Holiday Affair is a reminder of love and responsibility, of friendship, trust and intimate lasting relationships, which without makes us all the poorer, which with, makes us all the richer.

 

Merry Christmas!

By C. S. Williams

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[1] “The RKO Story”, 1982, by Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, Arlington House, New Rochelle, New York, Page 234.

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