Monday, April 18, 2016

Christmas Holiday, Robert Siodmak

Hollywood, CA, 1944 
story by W Somerset Maugham 
adapted by Herman J Mankiewicz 

Mankiewicz changed the setting from a Parisian Brothel to a Dance Hall in New Orleans and the central character from Russian Prostitute to a Chanteuse and Taxi Dancer from Vermont.  Gene Kelly is in his element as the elegant and vain spendthrift gambler from a once prominent family.  His early roles in Hollywood tended to cast him according to the type of his Pal Joey character, as an attractive heel.  Deanna Durbin handles her role (as the repentant wife who takes to lowlife as a way to punish herself) with more honesty than one might expect, especially in her embarrassing weep during Christmas Mass.  Even now, such hysterical wailing is not so much the norm on screen that it is in life.

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