For Reel

Christmas in July (1940)
July 21, 2012, 6:44 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Preston Sturges

Having finally broken through as a director at Paramount after much persistence, Preston Sturges’ second effort in a string of masterpieces would adapt a stage play that he had written in 1931 which, as it turns out, Universal had previously purchased in 1934. Paramount was able to secure the script from Universal and the resulting picture, Christmas in July, is the first great film in Sturges’ career as director, a Capra-esque comedy with a bitterness towards capitalism that maintains its topicality today. Dick Powell, in his first film under a Paramount contract, plays a $20-a-week clerk who is tricked by his coworkers into thinking that he has won a $25,000 slogan contest for a major coffee company. Naturally, once he is perceived to be a success, the higher ups at his workplace bring him into their inner circle and award him a new office. His boss, just after almost firing him, quips that he’s always seen something in the kid. The way that Sturges films the office is highly reminiscent of King Vidor’s The Crowd, with a sea of desks that the workers approach daily in a militarized march. Unlike the protagonist of Vidor’s picture, however, Powell is able to transcend the crowd, and in doing so reveals just what it takes to find success in the corporate world – a great deal of success to begin with.