Holiday Affair: A New Vintage Discovery

Always during the holidays, Ms. Jeannie returns again and again to her favorite Christmas movies… Little Women, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story…all the traditionals! But this year – she has one new favorite to add to her list…

holidayaffair

She watched this one for the first time this past summer – one of those errant Sunday mornings when she should have busy working on a project, but 10 minutes into the movie she was hooked, so project aside, she fell into the story! If you haven’t seen it  – this is the general gist in short – without giving too much away…

It’s Christmas season in New York City, and single mother Connie Ennis (played by Janet Leigh) works as a secret comparative shopper for a major department store. While secret shopping in the toy department at a competitor’s store she meets  employee, Steve Mason (played by Robert Mitchum) and inadvertently winds up getting him fired over the refund of a toy train set. Connie of course feels awful. Steve is a free-spirit, a dreamer and a romantic with big plans to earn enough money to get himself to California where he can build sailboats with his friend. Through a series of chivalrous escapades on Steve’s part, he winds up falling in love with Connie which complicates matters when steady and secure, but somewhat dull Carl,  Connie’s friend, proposes to her. Connie has to decide what to do… marry practical Carl, remain single or start a relationship with dreamy Steve who will be moving away soon.

Here’s the trailer…

Holiday Affair came out in 1949, when Robert Mitchum was mostly known for his film noir type movies and Janet Leigh was 11 years away from her most famous role in Psycho. A completely adorable addition to the cast was little Timmy, played by Gordon Gebert who was an actor up until the 1960’s before he leaving the industry altogether to pursue a career in architecture.

Gordon Gebert - photo via pinterest.

Gordon Gebert – photo via pinterest.

Some critics say that Gordon stole the whole show, which is a lovely compliment for someone who had just been in a couple of small productions before this film! But really all the actors were wonderful, the writing is clever, the tone  sweet without being sappy and all of the set decorations and costumes were marvelous, especially little Timmy’s wardrobe. Connie Ennis is on a budget so nothing was too glamorous or splashy, which made it fun to see how you could decorate a small 1940s era city apartment for the holidays on a single woman’s salary.

Production still. Photo courtesy of tcm.com

Production stills. Photos courtesy of tcm.com

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The movie was released on Christmas Eve Day and did really poorly at the box-office – losing $300,000 during its run. This seems surprising to Ms. Jeannie because it is such a great movie – but maybe, like any antique,  it just needed time to age for everyone to see its real value:)

If you haven’t seen Holiday Affair – not to worry! Turner Classic Movies is running it several times this month including both the day before Christmas and the day after, so you’ll be able to catch it. Check here for showtimes.

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