Holiday Affair (1949)
Laid back tough guy of cinema and Noir poster boy Robert Mitchum in a Christmas movie? Sort of.
Mitch’s home studio RKO saw fit to toss him into this romantic trifle opposite Janet Leigh with poor Wendell Corey in the token Ralph Bellamy role.
Christmas season approaches and Janet is working for a product comparison company. She buys products to be looked over and returned the following day for a refund. Wasting little time the opening scene has her purchasing an expensive train set from department store employee Robert Mitchum. Would you believe Mitch is actually working the counter in the toy section? I’d like to think he scored big with the single Moms.
Am I allowed to say that out here? Why not. I am the writer/editor of Mike’s Take on the Movies.
The plot is set on course when Janet brings the train set home for the night and her son takes a peak in the box and believes the train set is for him. Then there is Wendell Corey as Janet’s love interest. He’s all for getting married and looking after her and her little boy. She isn’t so sure if it’s love or stability that attracts her to good old Wendell.
We will find out soon enough that Janet’s first husband and the boy’s father was killed during the second world war.
The next day when Janet returns the train set, Mitch pegs her for the shopper she is and sidesteps reporting her to management. This seals his fate with his snooty boss and he is summarily fired. Before exiting the store he hooks up with Janet one more time and the two find themselves walking and shopping together. Accidently separated Mitch shows up at her apartment door with her purchases in tow.
Now we have that unsettled look on Corey’s face realizing he has competition for the prize that is knockout Janet Leigh.
It’s more or less academic from here on in with stops along the way featuring an early product placement for Corn Flakes and Esther Dale as the boys Grandmother who quite obviously isn’t exactly overjoyed about Corey claiming Leigh as his own.
The film from producer/director Don Hartman does it’s best to pull at the heartstrings but though the film is wrapped around the Christmas holiday I’ve never really associated it with being part of that genre in general as I would say “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Going My Way” from the same decade as this title.
Leading lady Leigh was extremely busy in the last couple years of the decade. She appeared in eight films during those last two years. It’s interesting to note that at the time of this film Leigh was 22 years old. Her son in the film played by Gordon Gebert was 8 years old. You do the math.
The best scene in the film is probably when Mitchum finds himself arrested for robbery and vagrancy. It’s all a comedy of errors and when on duty officer Harry Morgan hears the alibi from Leigh and Corey he’s delighted to see if he can prod our two suitors into some kind of battle for the hand of lovely Janet. Morgan’s funny here proving that he was more then just a thug with a gun in his hand and a scowl on his face during this portion of his career.
Truthfully I am rather indifferent to this title but then there is Mitchum. That alone secures the film a spot on the shelf in my library of DVD’s and the movie room.