Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas In July (1940)

WHO: Preston Sturges wrote and directed this.

WHAT: For my money, Christmas In July has as much as a claim on the title of "Sturges's greatest film" as any of his others. Perhaps it doesn't usually get such respect because it's at just over an hour long the shortest of the director's films, or perhaps simply because it was only his second film after his promotion from screenwriter into the director's chair. But at least one major critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum, seems to agree it's among his best, and has called the film "a riotous satire of capitalism that bites so deep it hurts" and placed it on his 100-film deep counter-canon to the 1997 AFI 100 list which included no Preston Sturges films at all. (The 2007 update saw Sullivan's Travels added to the list.)

WHERE/WHEN: Today and tomorrow at 4:20 and 7:30 at the Stanford Theatre

WHY: Relax. I know it's still not even Thanksgiving (or Hanukkah- or indeed Thanksgivukkah), so it's arguably too early to watch Christmas movies. But this is not a Christmas movie despite having the word in the title; it's set in the middle of a New York summer (hence the "July" part of the title), and the "Christmas" moniker refers only to the bounty associated with the season.

But though it may still be to early in the year to see Christmas movies, it's not too early to make plans to see them. The Stanford will start selling tickets to its annual December 24th 35mm screening of It's A Wonderful Life on December 7th, only at the theatre box office (nice extra incentive to see a terrific double bill of Sullivan's Travels and Horse Feathers that day or the next.) Tickets always sell out in advance for this event.

The Castro will be showing It's A Wonderful Life in December too this year, though it's not yet been announced whether this will be in 35mm or not. At any rate that happens December 22nd. Other X-mas-related films to play that theatre next month include Gremlins and Lethal Weapon on the 19th and Love Actually on the 20th courtesy of MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS (billed with the Thanksgiving-themed Home for the Holidays and an unnanounced Roxie midnight show)

HOW: Christmas in July screens on a 35mm double-bill with the Four Marx Brothers in Animal Crackers.

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