Craft II

film 3 of 3

Christmas in July

Draft Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Quite wonderfully compact, not feeling to attend to the niceties of smooth transitions and standard narrative development, as such, there’s a feeling, despite a standardish from-the-depression story, that anything can happen, and of total freshness; boldly starts with a long, statically covered discussion in which the not quite conventional characters perform very slight variations of an absurd conversational riff, so that while you’re wondering when something’s going to occur you haven’t noticed that full bodied and fully interesting characters have been developed while you weren’t looking, Mr. Waterbury starts as the clich├ęd oppressive boss and then turns out to be a humanitarian who movingly tells Dick Powell not that he can make it (Capra rah rah, which is in danger of becoming Horatio Alger capitalist-success-is-all doctrine) but even better that he already has; the sweepstakes “win” is nicely manouevred, the parody of corporate mentality as all suck up to Dick is strong, if standard (though the capper at the end when we find the boss only believed because he thought someone else had is strong and more than standard), the shopping trip is delightful, the gift distribution is really quite moving and holds the film’s most remarkable idea: Dick’s not blowing his new-found wealth, he’s just doing what he should with it (multi-ethnic neighborhood–unlike Sparrows and supply-side, where you have to depend on the rich that ultimately can’t be depended on, here’s the common man doing what’s commonly decent), the riot is fine noisy Capra/Sturges type mayhem, the resolution is so abrupt and predictable and unlikely (all intentional, I’m sure) as to be positively modernist