Christmas Holiday


1h 33m 1944

Film Details

Also Known As
W. Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday
Release Date
Jun 30, 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jun 1944
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham (New York, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,337ft

Synopsis

After receiving his commission on Christmas Eve, Lt. Charles Mason learns that Mona, his longtime girl friend, has married another man. When his plane from North Carolina to San Francisco is forced by bad weather to land in New Orleans, the heartbroken Charles meets alcoholic reporter Simon Fenimore, who takes him to a brothel run by Valerie De Merode. There Charles is introduced to hostess/singer Jackie Lamont, and agrees to take her to a midnight mass. After the church services, the two go to a diner, where Jackie tells Charles that her real name is Abigail and that she is the wife of convicted murderer Robert Manette. At the diner, and the next morning in his hotel room, Abigail tells Charles the story of her relationship with Robert: Abigail meets her future husband at a concert, and despite Robert's chronic unemployment and complaints about his inability to live up to his eminent family's expectations, she quickly falls in love with him. Later, at Robert's family home, she meets his overly possessive mother, who hopes Abigail will help reform Robert. Abigail and Robert are soon married and move into his mother's home. After six months of blissful marriage, Robert, unknown to Abigail, kills bookmaker Teddy Jordan. His mother, however, is aware of Robert's psychopathic nature, and Abigail sees her burn his bloodstained pants. After the police come by looking for Robert, Abigail questions her husband, and he orders her to lie about his missing pants and newfound money. Shortly thereafter, Robert is arrested, and Abigail sees his mother hide the bookmaker's money in the lining of a curtain. Later, the police arrive with a search warrant, but they do not find the money, as Abigail has taken it out of the curtain and burned it. After the police leave, though, Robert's mother chastises Abigail for her failure to support Robert, no matter what his flaws. Robert is found guilty of Jordan's murder, and his mother blames Abigail for the verdict. Abigail concludes her story and leaves Charles' hotel room, after which Charles learns that Robert has broken out of prison. He rushes to the brothel to warn Abigail but learns from Valerie that the police have already staked out the premises. Robert slips by their trap, however, and Abigail, still in love with her husband, rushes into his arms. Robert, however, rejects her because of her new occupation. She tells him that she began working at the brothel to punish herself for the guilt she feels toward him. Robert is then shot by the police before he can kill Abigail, and dies in her arms. With Robert dead, Abigail is finally able to "let go" of her past and start a new life.

Film Details

Also Known As
W. Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday
Release Date
Jun 30, 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jun 1944
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham (New York, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,337ft

Award Nominations

Best Music, Original or Comedy Series

1945

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The title card reads W. Somerset Maugham's Christmas Holiday. According to Hollywood Reporter, Universal purchased the film rights to Maugham's novel in March 1943. On September 29, 1943, Hollywood Reporter announced that Deanna Durbin had been cast in the lead role, stating that it would be the first part in which she would appear that had not been specifically written for her. According to Hollywood Reporter, portions of Christmas Holiday were shot at the Philharmonic Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, using over 1,000 extras. Hollywood Reporter news items also state that actor Gene Kelly was borrowed from M-G-M in exchange for Universal contract player Turhan Bey, whom M-G-M cast in their 1944 film Dragon Seed .
       According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, producer Walter Wanger had originally sought clearance from the Hays Office to film Christmas Holiday in August 1939, but was rejected as the novel was deemed a "story of gross sexual irregularities." In February 1943, producer Felix Jackson submitted a synopsis of a proposed Universal adaption of Maugham's novel in which the locale had been changed from Paris to the United States. In addition, the original Universal conception had a depressed American soldier meeting a USO hostess at a local canteen, instead of the novel's Englishman meeting a prostitute masquerading as a Russian princess. The Hays Office tentatively approved this version of Christmas Holiday, and on October 21, 1943, a screenplay was also approved, despite reservations about the excessive drinking of "Simon, the reporter," and concerns that the "hostesses" would be perceived as prostitutes. Although contemporary reviewers refer to Durbin's character as either a nightclub singer or a hostess, and the establishment as either a nightclub or a roadhouse, it is clear from the film's background action the story is set in a brothel and that Durbin's character is indeed a prostitute.
       Hans J. Salter received an Academy Award nomination for his music score to Christmas Holiday, but lost to Max Steiner's work on the David O. Selznick production Since You Went Away. According to July 1944 New York Times news item, Christmas Holiday grossed over two million dollars at the domestic box office, the highest total of any Deanna Durbin film to date.