Friday, December 17, 2010

Will Wendell Corey ever get the girl?

If you've seen enough of Corey's films, I think you'll realize that the answer to that question is a resounding NO! So, it's more interesting to see how Corey loses the girl. One good example of this is the Christmas movie Holiday Affair, which is airing tonight at 8:00 PM ET on TCM.

Janet Leigh plays Connie, who is a department store "spy": she's a comparison shopper for one of the stores, looking at the price and quality of products sold by other stores, only to return the goods. Naturally, department stores don't like this, and want their employees to report such spies to management. Connie buys a model train set from clerk Steve (Robert Mitchum), telling him honestly that she's a war widow with a son. Steve suspects Connie of being a spy, but doesn't turn her in, which gets him fired. In some ways, though, that's not such a bad thing, since Steve would really rather follow his passion of building boats out on the Pacific coast; he just needs the seed money and was working a "real" job to get that.

Connie's little kid, however, finds out about the train, and figures it's a Christmas present for him. Connie is still planning on returning it, but Steve feels really badly for the kid, so despite having been fired, he buys the same train set for the kid for Christmas. Complications ensue, but you know that at the end of the movie Connie and Steve are going to end up together.

Where does Wendell Corey fit into all of this? He plays Carl, who is Connie's fiancé. He loves Connie, but also realizes she doesn't particularly love him. He wants a wife and likes the kid, and also knows that the kid probably should have a father in his life. So for Carl, this is really just as much a marriage of convenience as it is a marriage of love. Carl can't undrestand why Connie could possibly be in love with Steve, especially since his situation is so unstable. Still, the casting of Wendell Corey makes it almost a certainty who is going to end up with the girl. (If it had been Bill Holden opposite Mitchum, as in Rachel and the Stranger, there would have been a more interesting dilemma.)

Despite the fact that you know how this movie is going to end, it's a great film for the holidays since it's completely undemanding but enjoyable in its relatively light story line. It got a release to DVD a few years back, both individually and as part of the same box set as two other Christmas movies I've recommended this month: All Mine to Give and It Happened on Fifth Avenue.

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