Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

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 (Radio Announcer)
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
George Anderson (uncredited) Mr. Jenkins
Sam Ash (uncredited)
Norah Gale (uncredited)
Hazal Marshall (uncredited)
Bob Mayo (uncredited)
Eileen McAvoy (uncredited)
Alice Thomas (uncredited)
Dorothy Ward (uncredited)
Unknown Role(s)
Jane Buckingham (uncredited) Miss Pettypass
James Conaty (uncredited)
Sayre Dearing (uncredited)
Barry Norton (uncredited)
Cyril Ring (uncredited)
Jack Shea (uncredited)
Douglas Spencer (uncredited)
Dale Van Sickel (uncredited)
Maxford's Office Co-Workers
Jimmy Conlin (uncredited) Arbuster
Harry Hayden (uncredited) Mr. Waterbury
Harry Hollingsworth (uncredited)
Stanley Mack (uncredited)
Ned Norton (uncredited)
Frank O'Connor (uncredited)
Gus Reed (uncredited)
Robert Warwick (uncredited)
Arthur Hoyt (uncredited) Mild Juror
Arthur Hull (uncredited) Cashier
Tiny Jones (uncredited) Neighborhood Woman
Esther Michelson (uncredited) Sophie's Mother
Frank Mills (uncredited) Cabbie Listening to Radio
Charles Moore (uncredited) Porter in Maxford's Office
Frank Moran (uncredited) Patrolman Murphy
June Preston (uncredited) Little Singing Blond Girl
Georges Renavent (uncredited) Office Door Sign-Painter
Dewey Robinson (uncredited) Large Juror
Sheila Sheldon (uncredited) Sophie
C.L. Sherwood (uncredited) Elevator Operator (Ending)
Walter Soderling (uncredited) Weary Juror
Larry Steers (uncredited) Mr. Babcock
Kay Stewart (uncredited)
Cheryl Walker (uncredited)
Preston Sturges (uncredited) Man at Shoeshine Stand
Fred Toones (uncredited) Sam
Pat West (uncredited) Man with Phone
Beal Wong (uncredited) Chinese Man (Listening to Radio)

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