A Manette Melodrama
Not only has he been recently dumped in a telegram but Lt. Charles Mason (Dean Harens) finds himself stuck in New Orleans on Christmas Eve when his plane has to make an emergency landing due to bad weather. It is whilst at a loose end he meets Jackie Lamont (Deanna Durbin - Spring Parade) who sings at a nightclub and goes with him to midnight mass at the local church. It is after attending mass that Jackie tells Charles her story, that her real name is in fact Abigail and is married to a man called Robert Manette (Gene Kelly - Cover Girl) who was arrested for murder.
For the first 25 minutes of "Christmas Holiday" we get build up which whilst bringing us to Jackie's emotional breakdown during mass on Christmas Eve is actually mostly irrelevant. But at the 25 minute mark the flashback starts as Jackie tells Charles her story which is how she met and fell for the charming Robert but who turned out to be a right piece of work with a gambling problem which leads him to murder. But we also discover his mother is also a piece of work who alongside Robert threaten Jackie, who we learn is really Abigail, and want her to lie to cover up the murder. So yes we have a bit of a thriller as we discover all about Jackie's troubled past and why she changed her name and ran away. But truth be told it did little for me despite nicely showing the nefarious nature of both Robert and his mother as well as being dangerous.
But what "Christmas Holiday" has going for it is the combination of Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly. Now right from the minute we meet Deanna Durbin as Jackie it is hard not to like her and the longer the movie goes on the more sympathetic we become to her as we learn what she went through. But then you have Gene Kelly delivering a wonderful split personality as Robert as on one hand he is charming and fleet of foot which makes you understand why she could have fallen for him but then we also get his volatile side making him the sort of man who in a split second can turn on the rage. And in fairness Gale Sondergaard is wonderfully sinister and controlling as Robert's mother making her an ominous presence.
What this all boils down to is that "Christmas Holiday" ends up a pretty routine black & white melodrama which gives us a vulnerable woman telling her troubled story of love of a murderer. In truth if it wasn't for the combination of Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly it would have been mostly forgettable.