Not Every Christmas Eve For Me

Ann Harding in Christmas Eve (1947)

Aunt Matilda Reid (Ann Harding) is well aware that her nephew Phillip (Reginald Denny) is a devious young man who is trying to gain control of the family empire before she spends all the money. It is why he arranges a meal with a judge and a psychiatrist to try and push them in to declaring his aunt unfit to manage her finances. But many years earlier Matilda adopted 3 boys all of which left when they were old enough as they didn't want to live off of her wealth and Matilda promises the judge that not only will they be home for Christmas but will take over the running of the business. But each of her sons have their issues; Michael (George Brent) is a broke playboy with debts he is running from, Mario is an escaped convict hiding out in a foreign country and Jonathan (Randolph Scott) is a washed up rodeo star with a drink problem. But when each learns that their Aunt Matilda needs them they are quick to return home, the question is what has Phillip got up his sleeve to prevent them from making it in time?

A couple of years ago I stumbled across an 80s Christmas TV movie called "Christmas Eve", starring Loretta Young and Trevor Howard, and it charmed me so much that it has become one of my go to movies to get me in the Christmas mood. What I didn't realise at the time that this charming Christmas movie starring a couple of Hollywood greats was in fact a modern update on an old Christmas eve movie. In fact the stars of the 80's movie were making movies when this 1947 one was made and could have quite easily appeared in it.

The thing about this 1947 version of "Christmas Eve" is that whilst not dark it has at times a much darker tone, you could almost say that rather than being a Christmas movie with touches of other genres it is in fact other genres with a touch of Christmas. As such when the detective whom Matilda hires tracks down Mario in South America it has more of a "you dirty rat" feel to it with Mario played by George Raft giving it the full criminal beans. It then becomes more of a camp western when we catch up with Jonathon played by Randolph Scott with this being Scott's last non western movie as the next 14 years of his career, up to when he retired, were dominated purely by westerns. But this tone and the mix up of them doesn't sit comfortably with me especially when it can go from the darkness of Mario being worked over to something more comedic.

What this all boils down to is that "Christmas Eve" is still an entertaining movie, if you enjoy older movies. But it lacks the Christmassy feel which I certainly like and ends up too much of a mixed bag.

Tags: Christmas Movies

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