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.
|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|
|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||Mr. Jenkins|
|Jane Buckingham||Miss Pettypass|
Dale Van Sickel
|Maxford's Office Co-Workers|
|Harry Hayden||Mr. Waterbury|
|Arthur Hoyt||Mild Juror|
|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|
|C.L. Sherwood||Elevator Operator|
|Walter Soderling||Weary Juror|
|Larry Steers||Mr. Babcock|
|Preston Sturges||Man at shoeshine stand|
|Pat West||Man with phone|
|Beal Wong||Chinese Man listening to radio|