Christmas in July (1940)

67 mins | Comedy | 18 October 1940

Director:

Preston Sturges

Writer:

Preston Sturges

Producer:

Paul Jones

Cinematographer:

Victor Milner

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Earl Hedrick

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The New Yorkers , Something to Shout About and A Cup of Coffee . The film was based on Preston Sturges' play, A Cup of Coffee , which was written in 1931, but was not produced until 1988 in New York. According to materials contained in the Preston Sturges Papers at the UCLA Library, in late 1934, Universal hired Sturges to direct a film based on the play, but that project never materialized. Modern sources note that the project was delayed because of financial turbulence at the studio. Sturges was asked to doctor a script for a film biography of Diamond Jim Brady (released in 1935 as Diamond Jim ), and by the time he was finished, his mentor at Universal, producer Henry Henigson, had moved to Paramount. With Henigson's departure, Sturges' script languished at Universal until he moved to Paramount and convinced the studio to buy his script for $6,000. News items in HR note that Betty Field and William Holden were originally slated for the lead roles in the film and Arthur Hornblow, Jr. was to have produced. In 1944, Dick Powell and Linda Darnell starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the Sturges' story and in 1954, NBC presented a televised version of the story on The Lux Video Theatre . Modern sources add the following names to the cast: Arthur Stuart Hull (Cashier); George Renavent (Sign painter); Jan Buckingham (Secretary); Charles Moore ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The New Yorkers , Something to Shout About and A Cup of Coffee . The film was based on Preston Sturges' play, A Cup of Coffee , which was written in 1931, but was not produced until 1988 in New York. According to materials contained in the Preston Sturges Papers at the UCLA Library, in late 1934, Universal hired Sturges to direct a film based on the play, but that project never materialized. Modern sources note that the project was delayed because of financial turbulence at the studio. Sturges was asked to doctor a script for a film biography of Diamond Jim Brady (released in 1935 as Diamond Jim ), and by the time he was finished, his mentor at Universal, producer Henry Henigson, had moved to Paramount. With Henigson's departure, Sturges' script languished at Universal until he moved to Paramount and convinced the studio to buy his script for $6,000. News items in HR note that Betty Field and William Holden were originally slated for the lead roles in the film and Arthur Hornblow, Jr. was to have produced. In 1944, Dick Powell and Linda Darnell starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the Sturges' story and in 1954, NBC presented a televised version of the story on The Lux Video Theatre . Modern sources add the following names to the cast: Arthur Stuart Hull (Cashier); George Renavent (Sign painter); Jan Buckingham (Secretary); Charles Moore (Porter). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cinema
18 Jul 1934.
---
Daily Variety
13 Sep 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Sep 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 34
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Sep 40
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Sep 40
p. 27.
New York Times
6 Nov 40
p. 35.
New York Times
10 Nov 40
p. 5.
Variety
18 Sep 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Wardrobe-ladies
Wardrobe-men
Wardrobe-men
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Scr clerk
Company grip
Mike grip
Asst to prod
Props
Props
Stage eng
Stage eng
Still photog
Publicity
Bus mgr
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
A Cup of Coffee
Something to Shout About
The New Yorkers
Release Date:
18 October 1940
Production Date:
1 June--29 June 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 October 1940
Copyright Number:
LP10005
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67
Length(in feet):
6,027
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6414
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Jimmy MacDonald, a twenty-dollar-a-week clerk at the Baxter Coffee Company, refuses to marry his sweetheart, Betty Casey, until he prospers. To realize his dream, Jimmy, an inveterate contest entrant, submits a slogan to the Maxford Coffee Contest: "If you can't sleep at night, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk." The winner of the contest is supposed to be announced on Maxford's radio program, but when Bildocker, one of the jury contest members, deadlocks the vote by refusing to go along with the slogan selected by the other twelve members, the program has to end without revealing the winning slogan. The next day, three of Jimmy's friends, Tom, Dick and Harry, decide to play a practical joke on him by making up a phony telegram informing him that he has won the $25,000 first prize. When the telegram is delivered to Jimmy's desk at work, Jimmy, Betty and the entire office start to celebrate, and before his friends can tell him that the telegram is just a prank, Jimmy telephones his mother with the good news. Mr. Baxter, thinking that Jimmy's ideas must be good, promotes him to the advertising department. Because the telegram has instructed Jimmy to go to the Maxford company to pick up his prize, Jimmy and Betty innocently go to the office of Dr. Maxford, the head of the company. Because Maxford is frustrated and angry that no winner was selected in time for the broadcast and can't reach any of the contest jurors by telephone, he thinks that Jimmy's slogan was selected as the winner and signs the first prize check. Jimmy then goes to a department store ... +


Jimmy MacDonald, a twenty-dollar-a-week clerk at the Baxter Coffee Company, refuses to marry his sweetheart, Betty Casey, until he prospers. To realize his dream, Jimmy, an inveterate contest entrant, submits a slogan to the Maxford Coffee Contest: "If you can't sleep at night, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk." The winner of the contest is supposed to be announced on Maxford's radio program, but when Bildocker, one of the jury contest members, deadlocks the vote by refusing to go along with the slogan selected by the other twelve members, the program has to end without revealing the winning slogan. The next day, three of Jimmy's friends, Tom, Dick and Harry, decide to play a practical joke on him by making up a phony telegram informing him that he has won the $25,000 first prize. When the telegram is delivered to Jimmy's desk at work, Jimmy, Betty and the entire office start to celebrate, and before his friends can tell him that the telegram is just a prank, Jimmy telephones his mother with the good news. Mr. Baxter, thinking that Jimmy's ideas must be good, promotes him to the advertising department. Because the telegram has instructed Jimmy to go to the Maxford company to pick up his prize, Jimmy and Betty innocently go to the office of Dr. Maxford, the head of the company. Because Maxford is frustrated and angry that no winner was selected in time for the broadcast and can't reach any of the contest jurors by telephone, he thinks that Jimmy's slogan was selected as the winner and signs the first prize check. Jimmy then goes to a department store where he uses the check as collateral to buy Betty an engagement ring, his mother a fancy new "Devanola" couch and gifts for everyone on their block. Jimmy and Betty think that their troubles are at an end, as the entire neighborhood celebrates their good fortune, but meanwhile, Maxford discovers his mistake and stops payment on the check. Everyone's "Christmas in July" celebration is interrupted when representatives from the department store arrive to reclaim their merchandise and Maxford appears, tears up his check and denounces Jimmy. The department store decides to let the neighbors keep their gifts and blames everything on Maxford and a near riot erupts. As Jimmy is comforted by Betty, Tom, Dick and Harry arrive, carrying a broken-down couch for Jimmy's mother, which they remorsefully offer as an apology for the prank. Jimmy's downfall appears complete when he goes back to Baxter's to see the new office which has been prepared for him and Baxter threatens to demote him, but Betty convinces him to give Jimmy a chance. As they go home, Jimmy admits that he only had confidence in himself because he won the contest and does not know if he can do a good job in the ad department. Just at that moment, however, Bildocker rushes into Maxford's office and announces that he finally has convinced the rest of the contest jury to admit that his favorite slogan should be the winner. Bildocker then reads the winning entry: "If you can't sleep at night, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk." As Maxford screams, Bildocker expresses his admiration for the slogan and says that they just sent a telegram to the winner, Jimmy MacDonald. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.