Strange Holiday (1945)

55, 58 or 61 mins | Drama | 1945

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were This Precious Freedom and Terror on Main Street . Arch Oboler's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Arch Oboler." His credit was the only non-cast credit in the viewed print. Actress Barbara Bates's surname is misspelled "Bate" in the onscreen credits. The film ends with the following statement, spoken by an offscreen narrator: "This is a story that never happened. It will never happen as long as we remember that freedom is never a gift, but a victory which each of us must guard with heart and mind." Reviews attribute the quotation to Franklin D. Roosevelt and mistakenly credit him as the narrator. Although Priscilla Lyons' character name is listed as "Betty" in the onscreen credits, she is called "Mary" in the picture.
       In 1942, writer-director Oboler turned his 1940 prize-winning radio program into a short film, also titled This Precious Freedom . According to a Nov 1942 IP article, the short, which featured all of the above-listed actors, was produced by Sound Masters, Inc., a New York-based company that specialized in non-theatrical films. General Motors financed the short and screened it for "thousands of General Motors war workers and their families," according to IP . General Motors vice-president Paul Garrett oversaw the production. The short was later acquired by M-G-M, but was never distributed by them. The length of the short has not been determined; one contemporary source refers to it as a "two reeler," while another lists it as four reels.
       In Feb 1944, HR announced that This Precious Freedom ... More Less

The working titles of this film were This Precious Freedom and Terror on Main Street . Arch Oboler's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Arch Oboler." His credit was the only non-cast credit in the viewed print. Actress Barbara Bates's surname is misspelled "Bate" in the onscreen credits. The film ends with the following statement, spoken by an offscreen narrator: "This is a story that never happened. It will never happen as long as we remember that freedom is never a gift, but a victory which each of us must guard with heart and mind." Reviews attribute the quotation to Franklin D. Roosevelt and mistakenly credit him as the narrator. Although Priscilla Lyons' character name is listed as "Betty" in the onscreen credits, she is called "Mary" in the picture.
       In 1942, writer-director Oboler turned his 1940 prize-winning radio program into a short film, also titled This Precious Freedom . According to a Nov 1942 IP article, the short, which featured all of the above-listed actors, was produced by Sound Masters, Inc., a New York-based company that specialized in non-theatrical films. General Motors financed the short and screened it for "thousands of General Motors war workers and their families," according to IP . General Motors vice-president Paul Garrett oversaw the production. The short was later acquired by M-G-M, but was never distributed by them. The length of the short has not been determined; one contemporary source refers to it as a "two reeler," while another lists it as four reels.
       In Feb 1944, HR announced that This Precious Freedom was being "revamped" into a feature by A. W. Hackel, Edward Finney and Max King, who along with Oboler, were the co-owners of Elite Pictures Corp. June Carlson was announced as a cast member in Jul 1944, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. New scenes were shot to reflect "recent events," according to HR , and in Mar 1945, DV announced that a major distributor was being sought for the feature. In Oct 1945, the film was released in New York by Mike J. Levenson and Elite. The running time of the 1945 release was listed as 61 minutes. According to a HR news item, in Oct 1946, Producers Releasing Corp., "still in search of product to fill in for the lapse in production plans brought on by the organization of Eagle-Lion," agreed to distribute Strange Holiday nationally. The picture was reviewed again in Oct 1946, when it was listed as both 55 and 58 minutes long. According to a 5 Aug 1952 HR news item, the rereleased version of the film was also known under the title Day After Tomorrow .
       Although reviews for Strange Holiday refer to the story as post-war, the time frame of the narrative is not clearly established. In some scenes, the characters mention the war as though it were still being fought, while in other scenes, they imply that the war is over. The descrepancy is probably due to the fact that the picture was shot in both 1942 and 1944. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1945.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 1952.
---
International Photographer
Nov 42
pp. 5-8.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Oct 1945.
---
Variety
Oct 45
p. 12.
Variety
6 Nov 46
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Orig mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Montage eff
Mont eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the radio program "This Precious Freedom" by Arch Oboler (broadcast undetermined).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Terror on Main Street
This Precious Freedom
Day After Tomorrow
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 19 October 1945
Los Angeles opening: 29 October 1946
Production Date:
1942 at General Service Studios
addl scenes began July 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Elite Pictures
Copyright Date:
30 July 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13475
Duration(in mins):
55, 58 or 61
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10505
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As prisoner John Stevenson, cut, bruised and dazed, is about to collapse from exhaustion, he recalls images of his family life: John lovingly snaps a photo of his three youngest children--John, Jr., Woodrow, Jr. and Peggy Lee--in front of their Christmas tree. Later, Woodrow, Jr., class valedictorian, recites a poem at his high school graduation as John and his wife Jean look on with pride. John then admits to Jean, a devoted housewife, that he is a very contented, lucky man. Back in the present, the embattled John mutters, "How did this happen? Where did it begin?" and remembers the events leading up to his current state: Anxious to retreat from the chaos of life in wartime America, John vacations in the remote North Woods with his friend and co-worker, Sam Morgan. Although Sam, bored after three weeks of isolation, is ready to return home, John insists on staying, until Sam happens to mention the date--Friday the 13th. John then demands that they leave at once, as he has remembered that it is his wedding anniversary. As they are nearing home, however, their prop plane falters and they are forced to make an emergency landing in a field. The men approach a farmer for help, but he turns them away, frightened. John manages to buy a ride to town from a wary truck driver, and Sam stays behind with the plane. On the way, the truck driver refuses to talk to John, and once in town, John notices that the streets are deserted and the shops closed. No one will explain to John what is happening, and everyone ... +


As prisoner John Stevenson, cut, bruised and dazed, is about to collapse from exhaustion, he recalls images of his family life: John lovingly snaps a photo of his three youngest children--John, Jr., Woodrow, Jr. and Peggy Lee--in front of their Christmas tree. Later, Woodrow, Jr., class valedictorian, recites a poem at his high school graduation as John and his wife Jean look on with pride. John then admits to Jean, a devoted housewife, that he is a very contented, lucky man. Back in the present, the embattled John mutters, "How did this happen? Where did it begin?" and remembers the events leading up to his current state: Anxious to retreat from the chaos of life in wartime America, John vacations in the remote North Woods with his friend and co-worker, Sam Morgan. Although Sam, bored after three weeks of isolation, is ready to return home, John insists on staying, until Sam happens to mention the date--Friday the 13th. John then demands that they leave at once, as he has remembered that it is his wedding anniversary. As they are nearing home, however, their prop plane falters and they are forced to make an emergency landing in a field. The men approach a farmer for help, but he turns them away, frightened. John manages to buy a ride to town from a wary truck driver, and Sam stays behind with the plane. On the way, the truck driver refuses to talk to John, and once in town, John notices that the streets are deserted and the shops closed. No one will explain to John what is happening, and everyone acts surprised that he is so unaware of "how things are." At his office at the National Manufacturing Company, John runs into Regan, the building manager, but he, too, insists that he cannot talk about what has happened. Suddenly panicked, John rushes home and discovers that Jean and the children are gone. Just then, two men accost John and knock him out. Later, in jail, John is roused by his black cellmate, and when John complains that his rights have been violated, the black man cryptically informs him that "they" have thrown out "that part" of the Constitution. Now desperate, John attacks his cellmate and screams to be released. Instead, John is interrogated and tortured by a German-accented "examiner," who refuses to believe he was on vacation. After the examiner allows John a brief reunion with a tearful Jean, he resumes his torture. Later, the examiner explains to John that, because its citizens were complacent, America was easily taken over by a "New Order" dictator, and that discipline is the key to success in the "New State." Although John repeats that he was on vacation and is not part of a resistance conspiracy, the examiner beats him until he is near death. Back in his cell, John finally realizes that he was guilty of complacency and, after recalling his family once again, vows he will go on fighting for "precious freedom," even if it means his death. John then wakes up from the dream he was having at his campsite and announces to Sam that they are going home. +

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.