Don't be fooled by the title. Christmas Holiday is a far, far cry from It's a Wonderful Life. Told in flashback, the story begins as Jackie (Deanna Durbin), marries Southern aristocrat Robert Monette (Gene Kelly). Unfortunately, Robert has inherited his family's streak of violence and instability and soon drags Jackie into a life of misery. When her husband commits murder, Jackie is compelled by Robert's equally degenerate mother (Gale Sondergaard) to cover up the crime. When Robert is arrested, Jackie, tormented by the love she still holds for her husband, runs away from the family home, changing her name and securing work as a singer in a New Orleans dive. Robert escapes from prison and makes his way to Jackie's dressing room. Holding a reporter hostage, he threatens to kill both Jackie and the waylaid sailor who has been listening to her story. An astonishing change of pace from Deanna Durbin's usual lightweight musical fare, Christmas Holiday (based, believe it or not, on a story by W. Somerset Maugham) is one of the bleakest film noirs of the 1940s. Durbin is merely adequate in her role, but Gene Kelly gives a disturbingly convincing portrayal as a man virtually devoured by his inner demons. Robert Siodmak directs with his usual flair, using a taut, suspenseful screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz.Christmas Holiday is a good little noir film that is made required viewing because of its casting.
Deanna Durbin - Jackie Lamont
Gene Kelly - Robert Monette
Dean Harens - Charles Mason
Gale Sondergaard - Mrs. Manette
Gladys George - Valerie de Merode
Richard Whorf - Simon Fenimore
David Bruce - Wayne Morgan