|Title:||Christmas in July|
|02.08.08||Netflix|| Kayla just borrowed my Preston Sturges DVDs and looking them up to see what all I had led me to this one, which I guess TCM never showed when I was going through my heavy-duty Sturges phase. I'm a big enough Sturges fan that when the DVD box set came out I already had half the titles on DVD already and I'd seen the other half save this one. In a way he's an easy filmmaker to study because he only directed about a dozen movies, making him a prime example of that flame-that-burns-brighter saying. Even of his modest number of films the last handful are noticeably inferior to his earlier stuff so really his work boils down to a remarkable run of 8 movies in 5 years, starting with The Great McGinty and ending with The Great Moment. Well ok, maybe ending with Hail the Conquering Hero since The Great Moment is a straight period drama that's not as great as his comedies (his O Brother Where Art Thou I suppose).|
Anyway, Seeing his second movie so late after I've already come to love many of his other films is a real treat. Like The Geat McGinty, Sturges isn't quite firing on all cylinders yet but you see the beginnings and especially that subversive cynical wit at work. Christmas in July stars Dick Powell as a working man too poor to marry his lady who hopes big by participating in contests for cash prizes. His latest entry is a new slogan for a leading coffee company and it's a real dud. He read some article where a scientist claimed that coffee actually put you to sleep but everyone thinks it makes you stay up so it ends up doing that through psychological means, not biological. So his slogan is "If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee - it's the bunk!" which is pretty funnily bad and, in typical Sturges fashion, gets its complete mileage through the smart quick dialogue. The problem is, several of his coworkers fashion a counterfeit telegram as a joke and, once Powell thinks he's won 25 grand, hijinx ensue.
I wouldn't put this at the top of the Sturges heap but it's definitely charming and funny and carries along nicely for its scant 65 minute running time. It is a bit of a one-off and gets a bit uneven toward the end but you know, it's still a Preston Sturges movie and better than most anything today.