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Holiday Affair (1949)

by on 2012/12/10

holiday_affair_1949“See, when you grow older, you have a right be annoying to kids.”

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Hacker Renders and I spent some time once again in New York City, navigating the trampling crowds of Times Square, nipping into the packed uptown Macy’s, kvetching in delis, and seeing the twinkling enormity of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

We are quiet people who have somehow become addicted to subjecting ourselves nearly once a season to the roiling masses of humanity that make up New York City.

Oh, the crowds, the crowds, the crowds. Let’s not forget all of the walking. My feet are still killing me.

I suppose that’s why all of the shots in this 1949 movie of Robert Mitchum (Out of the Past) and Janet Leigh (Psycho) inhabiting a significantly less populated Big Apple, leisurely sitting on park benches in Central Park while feeding squirrels, were strangely appealing to me.

I selected this movie because I love New York City and I love Robert Mitchum. But despite the compelling combination, overall, this film just wasn’t great.

First of all, there isn’t a single moment when Janet Leigh, who plays a slightly dour widowed single mom named Connie Ennis, wears cellophane instead of slacks – like the cover would have you believe. Not a one.

Second, while Mitchum is charismatic and charming as ever, the script is strange, there are way too many pivotal scenes shooting the back of folks’ heads, Leigh seems to flub her lines more than once, and most of the conversations seem to be conducted in meandering real-time.

It is called reshooting and editing, people.

Mrs. Ennis, the widow in question, plays a secret shopper engaged in industrial espionage for a large department store. She isn’t all bad, she’s simply doing it to support herself and her little boy, Timmy, played by Gordon Gebert (Gunsmoke).

Unfortunately, her retail hijinks cost toy department employee Steve Mason (Mitchum) his job.

Unless you are really interested in department store politics, this all isn’t really that interesting.

Neither is Connie’s relationship with priggish lawyer Carl Davis played by Wendell Corey (Rear Window). We get to see them engage in ‘how was your day’ chatter over washing the dishes. Again, in real time.

The plot thickens (and clogs) as Connie Ennis, feeling badly about Steve Mason’s job loss, gets to know the charming drifter. A dull-as-dishwater triangle forms.

Just about the only thing that’s interesting about this budding relationship between Connie and Steve is Mitchum’s charming conversations with Timmy (Gebert). Unfortunately, that’s not saying much at all.

It pains me to give a failing grade to a black-and-white Christmas movie set in New York that includes Robert Mitchum. But it is happening. Right now.

Maybe a little bit of New York is seeping into my veins.

My patience is waning. I don’t have all day.

Yo buddy, I’m walking here.

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87 minutes


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