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HOLIDAY AFFAIR (director: Don Hartman; screenwriter: Isobel Lennart/from the story Christmas Gift by John D. Weaver; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Harry Marker; music: Roy Webb; cast: Robert Mitchum (Steve Mason), Janet Leigh (Connie Ennis), Wendell Corey (Carl Davis), Gordon Gebert (Timmy Ennis), Griff Barnett (Mr. Ennis), Esther Dale (Mrs. Ennis), Henry Morgan (Police lieutenant); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Don Hartman; RKO; 1949)
“It’s perfect for those who like their holiday films retro, sweet and as laid-back as Mitchum.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A flimsy romantic comedy with Robert Mitchum as a department store clerk who aspires to be a boat builder; if you can believe that you’re half way home in connecting this love triangle to a sentimental children’s Christmas story. Janet Leigh is a young war widow with adorable 6-year-old son Timmy (Gordon Gebert), who still loves her dead soldier hubby and is afraid to bring another man into her life.

It’s based on the story by John D. Weaver and directed by Don Hartman. It was remade for television in 1996.

Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) is a comparison shopper and buys a model train from department store salesman Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum), and when she brings it home Timmy peeks and is disappointed it’s not his Christmas present. Carl Davis (Wendell Corey), Connie’s nice guy stable divorce lawyer boyfriend, comes over and asks Connie to marry him. She delays her answer, hinting she likes him more as a friend than a lover. When Connie returns the expensive model train the next day, Steve gets fired for not turning her in as a comparison shopper. She feels guilty and agrees to do lunch with him. After losing her in the Christmas crowds, he tracks her down at home with the visiting Carl. Both men defer politely to each other but vie for Connie’s hand in marriage. All bets are off in trying to guess which suitor Connie chooses, as the choice is too obvious. The fun is watching Mitchum try to get to mom by buying the kid the model train as a present, and Corey act like a gentleman in accepting his competitor without malice.

The film bombed at the b.o. on its release, but its afterlife is another story. It’s perfect for those who like their holiday films retro, sweet and as laid-back as Mitchum. The 32-year-old Mitchum was arrested on a marijuana charge at the time; such bad news had ruined many a star but not Mitchum–his career only took off after that incident.

REVIEWED ON 12/23/2005 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”