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(aka "W. Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday" )

 

directed by Robert Siodmak
USA 19
4
4

 

Don't be fooled by the title. Christmas Holiday is a far, far cry from It's a Wonderful Life. Told in flashback, the story begins as Jackie (Deanna Durbin), marries Southern aristocrat Robert Monette (Gene Kelly). Unfortunately, Robert has inherited his family's streak of violence and instability and soon drags Jackie into a life of misery. When her husband commits murder, Jackie is compelled by Robert's equally degenerate mother (Gale Sondergaard) to cover up the crime. When Robert is arrested, Jackie, tormented by the love she still holds for her husband, runs away from the family home, changing her name and securing work as a singer in a New Orleans dive. Robert escapes from prison and makes his way to Jackie's dressing room. Holding a reporter hostage, he threatens to kill both Jackie and the waylaid sailor who has been listening to her story. An astonishing change of pace from Deanna Durbin's usual lightweight musical fare, Christmas Holiday (based, believe it or not, on a story by W. Somerset Maugham) is one of the bleakest film noirs of the 1940s. Durbin is merely adequate in her role, but Gene Kelly gives a disturbingly convincing portrayal as a man virtually devoured by his inner demons. Robert Siodmak directs with his usual flair, using a taut, suspenseful screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz.

***

 

A very grown up Deanna Durbin gives a bravura performance as a sleazy nightclub singer in this intense Film Noir Hollywood classic. An army lieutenant (Dean Harens), recently jilted by his fiancée, finds himself introduced to a New Orleans bordello by a drinking companion. Here he meets singer Jackie Lamont (Deanna Durbin) - a woman with a dark past and an even darker secret... Her real name is Abigail Manette and her husband, Robert Manette (Gene Kelly), is a convicted murderer serving life in prison - or so she believes. Unknown to her, Robert has broken out of jail and is intent on tracking her down. He's consumed with jealousy, obsessed with the idea she's been unfaithful to him - and has already decided that the hapless army lieutenant is really her secret lover... A rare opportunity to see Deanna Durbin truly excel in an unusual and demanding role, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY features her singing 'Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year' and the Berlin classic 'Always'.

Posters

Theatrical Release: June 30th, 1944

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DVD Review: Simply Media - Region 0 - PAL

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Distribution

Simply Media

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:28:33 (4% PAL Speedup)
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.2 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Simply Media

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Stills Gallery

DVD Release Date: March 7th, 2011
Keep Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments

Christmas Holiday is an excellent Noir  - despite its deceiving title.  Yes, even though we have two stars most notable for musicals, they couldn't be more unexpected in their astonishingly competent characterizations portraying inhabitants of the dark cinema cycle. Wow.

The Simply Media (UK) transfer is single-layered but progressive in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and looks very acceptable. There are a few speckles but no untoward damage. Black levels are solid for the SD format and detail consistent. The disc supports the film with a fine presentation without any detrimental flaws. There are even in stances of depth.

The mono sound is decent but unremarkable and there are no subtitles offered. The only supplement is a stills gallery.

I don't see this on disc anywhere else - so we have nothing to compare it to. It's a must-own Noir essential and although the price seems high for an, essentially, bare-bones DVD - I think it's, definitely worth it#.  

  - Gary Tooze

 



 

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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Simply Media

Region 0 - PAL

 




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