|Cinematography||Milton R. Krasner|
The Christmas-season romance of a young widow and a sales clerk who (thanks to her) is unemployed.
Holiday Affair is a black-and-white 1949 light romantic comedy film starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. In this modest film, directed and produced by Don Hartman, Mitchum expanded from his typical roles in film noir and war films. It was based on the story Christmas Gift by John D. Weaver, also the film’s working title.
Appealing Christmas confection!
Bright and engaging holiday-themed romantic comedy has single mom Janet Leigh wooed by two men over the holidays: devil-may-care Robert Mitchum (who really does have a sardonic demon in his eyes!) and staunch, dull Wendell Corey. Poor Corey really has a thankless role here, not only playing the third wheel but berated for it as well; still, he plays dishwater-dull to perfection and his voice of reason would surely give Leigh cause to second-guess her heart. Surprisingly quirky film isn’t the least bit obvious or clichéd, and Janet’s screen-relationship with Gordon Gebert, the likable youngster playing her son, is very well handled. Top-notch writing, directing and acting; a gem. ***1/2 from ****
An undiscovered Christmas classic
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
20 June 2005
I love this film and am amazed that it seems to have been undiscovered among the many holiday movies we are blitzed with every Christmas season. I am actually VERY happy about this, as it is usually shown only about once or twice every year on cable and has not been ruined (at least for me) by over-saturation. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a movie that I no longer can stand because it was shown so many times during the 1980s–sometimes on two or three or more cable channels AT THE SAME TIME!! But, somehow lazy television programmers haven’t yet done this to “A Holiday Affair”. Hmmm,…maybe I should NOT review it so that it remains a hidden gem.
Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and Wendall Corey all star in this delightful little film about a train set and Christmas. Janet Leigh is a single mom (her husband having been killed in the war) and works as a comparison shopper (a spy who buys products and tests them out for competing stores). She buys a train for just this purpose but her adorable little son (Gordon Gebert) finds the very expensive train and assumes it’s for him. Mitchum works at the store where this is purchased and correctly assumes she is a spy BUT because he feels sorry for her and does not turn her in, he is fired. Leigh feels sorry for him and invites him to Christmas dinner with her son and fiancé (Corey). Soon after arriving, Mitchum learns from the little boy that he thinks he’s getting this great train that he found hidden in his mom’s room (though this was bought for her job–the train she could afford to buy him was MUCH cheaper and less fancy).
Mitchum decides to buy the kid that exact train (though he is out of work). When Leigh finds out, she is upset–Mitchum is practically a stranger and is out of work. When the boy hears this, he knows he can’t keep the train and so he sneaks out of the house to return the train (although he looks to be only about 7 years-old). This scene of such a little boy wandering up the chain of command at the department store to return the train is priceless! What happens next is something you’ll have to see for yourself. Although the eventual outcome is rather predictable, it arrives at this destination in such a classy and engaging way that you won’t be disappointed.
This movie is perhaps one of the best examples of the magical films that Hollywood was capable of making in the 1940s. The dialog is among the best and the long string of coincidences make this film charming, not clichéd. Plus, it’s a nice example of a film with a child star who acts a lot like a real kid–and he keeps his own among all the big-name stars! Give it a chance–it’s sure to brighten up your holiday.
Broken hearts are mended
Author: Lord Dorotheus Brooksham-Daffodil III from Sumwair, Knoware
19 December 2002
‘Holiday Affair’ is a truly wonderful film centered around a woman who’s husband died in WWII living alone with her son, played by Janet Leigh (the woman that is) and a dreaming drifter played by Robert Mitchum. They meet and after a few shakes and bruises along the way, on both sides, in the end get and stay together.
A then 20-year old Janet Leigh plays her insecure, scared and mourning Connie Ennis with a subtlety and a maturity beyond her years. And film-noir icon rough, tough and brooding Robert Mitchum pulls the role of the lucid and warmhearted drifter off as effortlessly as he did his Jeff Bailey in ‘Out of the Past’. The man was a genius. The story as well is told with such maturity and wit for those days, when one considers all the sleek and easy traps of sentimentality and mushiness one could have fallen into in making these kinds of films. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ has not been as fortunate. Another reason why this film has aged so infinitely well, is the well-drawn, 3-dimensional characters. As opposed to, again, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, where some of the characters almost fade into caricature.
Here we see REAL people as it were. Real people with real problems. Especially in Leigh’s character, such as getting over the loss someone dear to us and how to move on and not be scared after that. But also in Wendell Corey’s character. A man in love who knows she’s not in love with him and who tries to hang on at any cost.
But he’s not depicted as a jealous, malevolent, crazed Iago-type character who does everything and anything to prevent her and Mitchum from coming together, nor does he play an overly-good, almost idioticly noble character who “just wants her to be happy” and who therefore gives her up. No, he plays a reasonable, slightly torn up man who sees the end is nigh for him and her, who’s willing to fight but when he sees the battle is lost gives up graciously, a predicament which the otherwise somewhat wooden Corey conveys onto the screen wonderfully well. This, plus the little boy who for a child-actor performs amazingly well and the fantastic, almost over the top (but not really) ending, might make this into the best Christmas-movie ever made. Yes, EVER made! Leave not this film unseen! 10/10.
Much more than a Christmas Flick
Author: lvplc from United States
23 December 2007
I just saw this for the first time tonight on TCM and wow was I impressed. I read many (not all) of the previous reviews and agree with those that thought it was a feel good film and those that thought it depicts the way life was after the war.
Remember when people really cared about each other? And when kids understood that they were’not going to get everything they wanted… and why? There are many subtle lessons being “taught” here but I was surprised that no one commented on my favorite scene in this movie; Steve is saying good-bye to Connie (a war widow) in his 2nd rooming house for about the 3rd or 4th time, though this one seems final, and points out to her that by working so hard to keep the memory of her husband and the love they shared alive she might never find out that love could happen again. His blunt but compassionate comment(Mitchum was so good here)that his real competition for her heart was not Connie’s son or her fiancé but her dead husband’s memory and that he could never compete with that, is something that so many who have lost the love of their life, myself included, need to hear. As I pointed out earlier, there are so many themes to this movie. Don’t miss it! I’ll end this now so I can search the web for a DVD of this incredible piece of work.
Great movie with Harry Morgan
Author: DJAkin (Donjakin1988@gmail.com) from AZ
7 December 2003
Harry Morgan, or Colonal Potter had a small role in this. However, the movie was good and Robert Mitchum proved that he could play more than just a thug. I enjoyed the way he delivered his lines as well as the other man who was also in love with the same woman. THe best part was when the other man, talked to his fiance as though he were reading a divorce petition.