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Christmas in July

(1940 b 67')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Preston Sturges wrote and directed this farce about a practical joke that results in giving a worker prize money to spend.

A radio show offers prizes for the best slogans; but owner Maxford (Raymond Walburn) finds that Bildocker (William Demarest) can't decide who won. The announcer (Franklin Pangborn) ends the show without saying who won. On a roof Jimmy MacDonald (Dick Powell) tells Betty (Ellen Drew) he lost other contests but hopes to win this one with his slogan "If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk." She argues coffee keeps people awake. Jimmy says they can't afford to get married yet. She waits for a good-night kiss.

At work Jimmy calls to see if the jury has decided. Betty is a moment late among regimented employees. Supervisor Waterbury (Harry Hayden) asks Jimmy what is wrong, and he says it is the contest. Employees Dick (Rod Cameron), Tom (Adrian Morris), and Harry (Harry Rosenthal) rig a telegram that Jimmy won the contest, and he stands on a desk to announce it and calls his mother (Georgia Caine). The boss Baxter (Ernest Truex) fires Jimmy. Waterbury tells Baxter, who then gives Jimmy a raise. Jimmy tells Baxter they don't advertise enough and suggests "blue-blood" coffee that is "bred in the bean." Baxter offers Jimmy an office with Betty as his secretary. Dick tries to tell Jimmy but is interrupted by Baxter.

Maxford tells the announcer why contests are bad. Jimmy calls on Maxford with the telegram, and Maxford gives him a check for $25,000. Jimmy buys Betty a diamond ring for $12,000. Store owner Schindel (Alexander Carr) calls Maxford about the check. Jimmy buys a davenport for his mother and gifts for others. Betty gets a fur coat. Jimmy and Betty come home with the presents. Bildocker refuses to agree with the jurors on a winner. Maxford tells the jurors to get back to work but learns they did not pick a winner nor send a telegram. Maxford calls for a lawyer and calls Schindel about the check. Schindel goes to get his goods back and tells a policeman the check is phony. Jimmy hears and says Maxford gave it to him. Maxford arrives, says to arrest Jimmy, and rips up the check. Schindel says Maxford will pay. Dick, Tom, and Harry bring Jimmy a davenport to make up for the phony telegram. Jimmy and Betty look at his office. Baxter comes in and praises Jimmy's ideas; but when he learns he did not win the contest, his opinions change. Betty pleads that Jimmy deserves a chance, and Baxter agrees to give him a short trial. In the final scene Bildocker tells Maxford that Jimmy's slogan won the contest.

This satire of regimented workers who dream about gaining sudden wealth by winning an unlikely contest plays out a common fantasy of the modern capitalist society.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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