Christmas in July is a 1940 Paramount picture written & directed by Preston Sturges, based on his 1931 play A Cup of Coffee. It was Sturges' second film as writer-director, after The Great McGinty, and stars Dick Powell and Ellen Drew.


Dr. Maxford is thoroughly exasperated. He is supposed to announce on national radio the winners of a slogan contest for his Maxford House Coffee; the first prize is $25,000. Maxford's jury is deadlocked by the stubborn Mr. Bildocker. As a result, the program ends without an announcement.

One of millions of contestants, office worker Jimmy MacDonald dreams of winning, hoping to validate his faith in himself, provide some luxuries for his mother, and marry his girlfriend Betty Casey. Betty, among others, does not understand his slogan: "If you can't sleep at night, it's not the coffee, it's the bunk."

As a joke, three of his co-workers place a fake telegram on Jimmy's desk informing him that he has won. Jimmy's boss, J. B. Baxter, is so impressed, he promotes Jimmy on the spot to advertising executive, with his own office, a private secretary (Betty), and a raise. Tom Darcy, one of the pranksters, tries to clear things up before they go too far, but loses his nerve.

When Jimmy arrives to collect the check, Dr. Maxford assumes his committee finally reached a decision without informing him, and writes a check to Jimmy. Jimmy and Betty go on a shopping spree at Shindel's department store. After telephoning Maxford to confirm the check is good, Mr. Shindel gives Jimmy credit to buy an engagement ring for Betty, a luxury sofa-bed for his mother, and presents for all of their neighbors.

When the truth comes out, Shindel descends on Jimmy's street to try to repossess his merchandise. Maxford follows them and confirms Jimmy did not win. In the commotion, Shindel learns that Maxford's signature is genuine; instead of reclaiming the merchandise, he tries to force Maxford to pay for it. Tom and the other two pranksters admit they are to blame.

That night, Jimmy & Betty confess to Baxter. Betty's heartfelt plea persuades Baxter to let Jimmy try to prove himself and keep his promotion, although on a very short probationary period and with no raise. Meanwhile, Bildocker bursts into Maxford's office to announce that the other jury members have finally given in and accepted his choice for the grand prize winner: Jimmy.


Actor(s)/actress(es) Character(s)
Dick Powell Jimmy MacDonald
Ellen Drew Betty Casey
Raymond Walburn Dr. Maxford
Alexander Carr Mr. Shindel
William Demarest Mr. Bildocker
Ernest Truex Mr. J.B. Baxter
Franklin Pangborn Don Hartman
Rod Cameron Dick
Michael Morris Tom
Harry Rosenthal Harry
Georgia Caine Mrs. MacDonald
Ferike Boros Mrs. Schwartz
Torben Meyer Mr. Schmidt
Julius Tannen Mr. Zimmerman
Alan Bridge Mr. Hillbeiner
Lucille Ward Mrs. Casey
Vic Potel Davenola Salesman
Uncredited actors
George Anderson Mr. Jenkins
Sam Ash
Norah Gale
Hazal Marshall
Bob Mayo
Eileen McAvoy
Alice Thomas
Dorothy Ward
Unknown Role(s)
Jane Buckingham Miss Pettypass
James Conaty
Sayre Dearing
Barry Norton
Cyril Ring
Jack Shea
Douglas Spencer
Dale Van Sickel
Maxford's Office Co-Workers
Jimmy Conlin Arbuster
Harry Hayden Mr. Waterbury
Harry Hollingsworth
Stanley Mack
Ned Norton
Frank O'Connor
Gus Reed
Robert Warwick
Arthur Hoyt Mild Juror
Arthur Hull Cashier
Tiny Jones Neighborhood Woman
Esther Michelson Sophie's Mother
Frank Mills Cabbie listening to radio
Charles Moore Porter in Maxford's Office
Frank Moran Patrolman Murphy
June Preston Little Singing Blond Girl
Georges Renavent Office Door Sign-Painter
Dewey Robinson Large Juror
Sheila Sheldon Sophie
C.L. Sherwood Elevator Operator
Walter Soderling Weary Juror
Larry Steers Mr. Babcock
Kay Stewart
Cheryl Walker
Preston Sturges Man at shoeshine stand
Fred Toones Sam
Pat West Man with phone
Beal Wong Chinese Man listening to radio

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