Preston Sturges

Christmas in July (1940)

Christmas in July If there’s one thing Jimmy MacDonald (Dick Powell) can’t resist, it’s entering a contest. He’s not exactly successful at winning them, but when he enters a big slogan writing contest sponsored by Maxford House Coffee, he figures he’s due to win big. The night the winners are set to be announced on the radio, the results end up being delayed by a stubborn judge. At work the next day, some of Jimmy’s co-workers leave a fake telegram on his desk telling him he’s won and the whole office gets caught up in his excitement. The grand prize is $25,000 so at last Jimmy can afford to marry his girlfriend Betty (Ellen Drew) and buy some nice things for his month.

Since Jimmy works for a rival coffee company, when his boss finds out he’s won the Maxford House contest, he promotes Jimmy from being a clerk to working in the advertising department. Before his friends can tell him he hasn’t actually won, Jimmy’s on his way to pick up his check from Maxford House. When Jimmy shows up claiming to be the winner, Dr. Maxford (Raymond Walburn) just assumes the contest judges have kept him out of the loop again and gladly signs the check. Jimmy and Betty go out and buy gifts for everyone in the neighborhood.

When Maxford finds out the judges hadn’t actually picked a winner, he stops payment on the check, sending the head of the department store out to find Jimmy and take back the stuff he bought. Humiliated, Jimmy doesn’t know if he really has what it takes to cut it at his new job because the only reason he had any confidence was because of that contest. Unbeknownst to Jimmy, over at Maxford House, the judges have finally picked a winner — him.

Christmas in July is one of Preston Sturges’ more under-appreciated movies. Dick Powell struck a perfect balance of being incredibly heartfelt and sincere without being saccharine. Sincerity without saccharine is exactly what Preston Sturges did best as well. Christmas in July is a wonderful, sharp, fast-paced (67 minutes!) lark. It’s a prime example of how much you can do with a fairly short amount of time.

What’s on TCM: July 2013

Paul Henreid CasablancaHappy July, everyone!  It looks like July is going to be a somewhat quiet month on TCM, but that’s okay with me since I know Summer Under the Stars is already right around the corner.  This month, we have Paul Henreid as the TCM Star of the Month and you’ll be able to catch his movies every Tuesday night in July.

I’m pretty excited for July’s round of Friday Night Spotlight, which will be focused on the films of French director Francois Truffaut.  If you’ve never seen a Truffaut film or haven’t seen very many of them, this is a perfect opportunity to see more of his work.

This month will also feature Carson on TCM, a series of classic Tonight Show interviews by Johnny Carson, which I’m sure is going to be very fun.


What’s on TCM: June 2012

Hard to believe it’s already almost June!  June’s Star(s) of the Month are Teen Idols.  Every Thursday will be showcasing movies starring the likes of Elvis, Frankie and Annette, The Monkees, and Troy Donahue.  TCM will also be doing a series called The Immigrant Experience every Wednesday night this month.  June 10th is a very noteworthy day as it marks what would be Judy Garland’s 90th birthday.  TCM will be celebrating by playing her movies for a full 24 hours, all chosen by noted Judy Garland expert John Fricke.  The Essentials, Jr. series also makes its return to Sunday nights this month.


Vanity Fair, May 2010

I don’t really read magazines much these days.  I subscribe to Harper’s Bazaar, but otherwise, I don’t really go out of my way to buy anything from the newsstand.  But every once in a while, Vanity Fair is pretty irresistible to me and the May 2010 issue is certainly one of those times.  As you can see, the lovely Grace Kelly is the subject of the cover article.  The Grace Kelly article does a nice job of covering her life and her career as well as discussing her impact as a style icon.  The article features quotes from people who personally knew and worked with Kelly such as Jimmy Stewart and Edith Head as well as people like Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, who truly understands how Grace Kelly’s classic style endures to this day.

Not mentioned on the cover, but also worth reading, is an article on director Preston Sturges.  I like the fact that Vanity Fair chose to feature two people who had fairly short but legendary movie careers.  Grace Kelly only made 11 films and Preston Sturges only directed 12.  The fact that Vanity Fair will include an article about Preston Sturges for no apparent reason at all explains why sometimes I just have to buy a copy.  Clearly, Vanity Fair loves classic movies.  And the classic film love doesn’t stop there: there’s also a photograph of some of the cast of Glee in a Singin’ in the Rain inspired look and some ads from Fekkai that give tips on how to achieve hairstyles seen in The Graduate, Casablanca, and Singin’ in the Rain.

The May 2010 issue is available on newsstands now, or you can head on over to the Vanity Fair website and check it out there.  For more classic film fun, be sure to visit the Classic Hollywood page to check out some of their past articles and features.

TCM Day in Review: 2/14/10

Yesterday was most certainly been the most five-star day on TCM this month!  Yesterday afternoon, I was able to watch: The More the Merrier, The Devil and Miss Jones, The Lady Eve, and Ball of Fire.  And those are only the ones I saw.  I skipped Notorious, High Society, and most of A Foreign Affair since those were all on quite early and I’d seen them all before.  I also caught Casablanca and The African Queen, but since I don’t have anything particularly unique to say about either one of those, I’m just going to skip writing about them.  Plus this entry is going to be long enough as it is without those two movies.