Holiday Affair (1949)

Food:

I am going to use this to make an Ode to Late Night Cereal.

There is nothing like some Frosted Flakes (I prefer over Corn), or Fruit Loops, or Apple Jacks, or Fruity Pebbles, or Cocoa Puffs right before bed. It does not matter how full I am from dinner, there is always room for Late Night Cereal.

Holiday Hidden Gem #4:

“Holiday Affair” (1949) directed by Don Hartman, stars Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey, and Robert Mitchum and trails a single mother in her job as a department store comparison shopper. After losing her husband in the war, Connie Ennis (Leigh) has taken a job spying on retailers to report back the pricing model to their competitors, when she buys a train from a toy store that sends her world in an entirely new direction. It was based on the story “Christmas Gift” by John D. Weaver, which was also the film’s working title.

When Connie Ennis is caught by department store owner, Steve Mason (Mitchum), they end up forming an unexpected friendship. Meanwhile, at home, she is receiving proposals and affection from a long-time friend Carl Davis (Corey), but his advances are always met with hesitancy on her part. She longs to protect her son Timmy (Gordon Gebert, who brings the level of adorable that Enzo Staiola brought to “The Bicycle Thief”), but cannot help but seek the partnership that she has been missing since the loss of her husband. After Mason enters her life, she finds her and her son in the middle of a love triangle that forces her to wrestle with the kind of life she wants to have moving forward and what she looks for in love. “Every surprise isn’t a telegram from the War Department,” she is counseled as she struggles to understand whether she can live a life of spontaneity and joy again, or if she will only be comfortable moving through what is stable and predictable.

The film is well-paced and enjoyable to watch. Driven primarily by the chemistry between two of the lead characters, we are able to see Robert Mitchum in a role that reveals a softer side of his charisma. After building tension throughout the course of the film, the ending feels rushed and a little unsatisfactory – much like many of the romantic classics we know and love – but the storyline is heartwarming and entertaining nonetheless. Similar to “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Holiday Affair” places the childlike spirit of the holiday season at the center and brings something new and refreshing to add to the holiday movie mix.

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