Posted by Sarah
All are welcome to attend the eighth, and last, of this term’s screening and discussion sessions which will take place on the 18th of December in Keynes Seminar Room 6, from 4pm to 7pm.
We will be screening Christmas Holiday (1944, Robert Siodmak, 93 mins).
The Hollywood adaptation of the Somerset Maugham novel stars musical legends Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly. The casting is misleading, however, as Universal studios was deliberately trying to insert some variation into Durbin’s hitherto relatively simple star image of a happy young girl who loved to sing. In Christmas Holiday Durbin plays a woman with a past (enough of one to need a new name), now working as a nightclub ‘hostess’. We might compare Durbin’s change in role to the refreshing of Mary Pickford’s star image in Coquette (1929) which we screened a couple of weeks ago.
The film’s dark tone can be fruitfully related to its director as well as its stars. Robert Siodmak later helmed the gothic-influenced The Spiral Staircase (1945) and The Dark Mirror (1946).
Christmas Holiday’s original trailer is available on youtube.com
The trailer’s central placement of the change in Durbin’s star image as well as the highlighting of the film’s noirish tone are also seen in the print advertising. Below are some pages from the June issue of trade-oriented Box Office Magazine. (The date of the magazine also points to the fact the film might be somewhat misnamed-who releases a festive film in July?!)
To see the pages below in context please visit http://www.boxoffice.com/the_vault/issue_page?issue_id=1944-6-17&page_no=19#page_start
The above pages (and lots of other useful material) can be found on the Box Office Magazine’s vault: http://www.boxoffice.com/the_vault
Do join us, if you can, for what promises to be an interesting discussion on the intersection of melodrama and noir. We also plan to screen a short bonus Christmas film (yet to be decided) afterwards, which will hopefully be more cheery!