Sunday, December 29, 2013

Small Affair

Tis the season for all those Christmas movies.  One that seems to be gaining a reputation is the slight romantic comedy Holiday Affair, starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh.  Released in 1949, it was a flop then, but maybe looks better today. 

Mitchum plays a drifter working at a department store and Leigh is a professional comparative shopper.  She's got a kid, Timmy, but her husband died in the war and she's having trouble moving on.  She's pursued  by a lawyer, played by Wendell Corey, but after the requisite complications succumbs to the charms of Mitchum, who teaches her to let her hair down.

There aren't too many laughs, but it's not supposed to be a knee-slapper, for the most part.  What works best are the personalities--not to mention looks--of Mitchum and Leigh. Mitchum is not best known for this genre, but he pulls it off.

But there are a couple things, at least, that don't work, preventing the film from being even a semi-classic.  First, there's the kid, who gets an awful lot of screen time.  He's not too obnoxious but he's given too much--he can't carry all that dramatic weight.  Worse, plot-wise, is the Corey character.  Wendell Corey often played secondary characters, but the trouble here is his lawyer is a decent, humorous guy who seems like a pretty good deal for Leigh.  Okay, he's not Mitchum, but he does seem to love her and will certainly be a good provider.  There are tons of romantic comedies where the woman has to choose between true love and money, or some stuffed shirt, but Corey doesn't seem that bad, and it hardly seems fair that Mitchum intrudes into the situation to take away Leigh.

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