Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Affair (1949)

Holiday Affair (1949) is a light romantic comedy film starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. One of my favorite Christmas films, it's directed and produced by Don Hartman who wanted Mitchum to expand from his roles in film noir and war films.

The movie begins during the busy Christmas season with Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) working as a professional comparison shopper, who is required to purchase an expensive electric train set. Connie in a hurry and does not have time to ask questions, which sends a red flag to sales clerk Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum). After purchasing the train, Connie rushes home to be with her six year old son. She believes that Timmy will not see the train, so she brings the electric train home with her. Timmy's curiosity gets the best of him, and he takes a peek inside the box with the train in it. Thrilled, thinking he is getting a train for Christmas until Connie, who is unaware that he has seen it, tells him the train is for the store. That night, Connie's boyfriend, lawyer Carl Davis (Wendell Corey), asks Connie to marry him. Connie then talks it over with Timmy, who is not happy about sharing his mother.

The next day, when Steve sees Connie bringing back the train for a refund, he threatens to report her to the store detective. Connie explains to him that she is a war widow with a son to support. Steve, in the Christmas spirit,refunds her money, but he is soon fired for not turning her in. While spending a wonderful afternoon together in Central Park, they talk about his future plans to build sailboats with his friend in California.

Later, while comparison shopping, Connie and Steve become separated in a crowd. Steve, with some detective work finds Connie's apartment and discovers Carl there. Carl is questioning Steve's presence and has an awkward moment with Timmy, who is still upset from the night before. Carl thinks it is best to leave before things get worse. Steve angers Connie, by saying that she should stop trying to make Timmy into the image of his father. Thinking he has worn out his welcome, he stops in to say his good bye's to Timmy. Timmy tells him about the train. As he is leaving, Steve gives Connie a passionate kiss.

On Christmas morning, Timmy opens the apartment door and finds the gift wraped train set outside. Excited he runs to thank his sleepy mother. Connie puts two and two together where the train came from and goes to confront Steve. Connie finds Steve in Central Park, and although she offers to pay him for the train, he refuses her money.

Who will Conny and Timmy be stringing popcorn on the Christmas tree with? Wendell Corey, a wonderful, stable man who is a little condesending, who wants to marry her. Or... Robert Mitchum, the drifter. Watch this charming Christmas film to find out...

The movie didn't do so well at the box office at the time of its release, but it has gained charm over the years.

According to Robert Osborne, Howard Hughes, the head of RKO, had Mitchum take the part to repair his image after his arrest for marijuana possession.


  1. Dawn, I stumbled on this little film a few years ago. Robert Mitchum ,as Dick Cavett has said can play anything. A real little "sleeper" and worth the trouble to see.BTW Don Hartman later went on to do My Three Sons on TV.

  2. Dawn, it was hard to see the scene where Timmy thinks he is getting the wonderful train set for Christmas. My heart really hurts when you can see the disappointment in a child's eyes, even when it occurs in a made-up story. Janet Leigh is so lovely and it's nice to see a softer side to Robert Mitchum. Thank you for your wonderful review!

  3. Wonderfully entertaining article, Dawn. I love this little movie, and it probably was a good idea for Mitchum after the marijuana incident. I have always liked him in just about everything he does.

  4. Dawn, this film marks the beginning of my favorite part of Janet Leigh's career. It was quickly followed HOUDINI, SCARAMOUCHE (which i love), THE NAKED SPUR, and THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH. I enjoyed your review!

  5. Rick, What about Angels in the Outfield?

  6. Paul, I agree with Dick Cavett, Mitchum can play anything. Interesting info. on Don Hartman.

    Toto, I agree, it was very sad to Timmy's disappointment. I wish Mitchum had performed in more movies like this one. He was awesome.

    Becky, I'm a huge Mitchum fan..he is so handsome :)

    Rick, Janet leigh, was wonderful in this film. Come to think of it.. I do not remember her in a bad movie.

    Merry Christmas!! everyone. :)

  7. Thanks, Dawn. This was a wonderful read. Robert Mitchum is one of my faves, and I think Janet Leigh was vastly overrated (it's a shame she's usually only remembered for that one movie with the shower). And I concur with Rick: Janet was outstanding in the superb SCARAMOUCHE.