Christmas in July
At 67 minutes long, and with a plot suited for a special episode of Seinfeld, Preston Sturges' 1940 Christmas in July is a classic example of something that no longer exists, a comedy designed for double billing. Dick Powell plays a factory worker who aspires to write advertising jingles, one of those movie professions that allow for people to become overnight successes without losing small-time charm. His friends pretend that his doozy of a jingle ("If you can't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee, it's the bunk.") for the Maxford House Coffee Co. is the $25,000 prize winner in a jingle contest. Believing he has won, Powell goes to the company, where the company president, overwhelmed with "creative" entries, is fooled into thinking his is the winner. The happy-go-lucky movie manages to pack in more satire of advertising culture than seems possible in its running length, and the movie's bittersweet ending lays bare the contradictions of a time period when riches were all the rage on screen but hard to find into real life. Through today's eyes, Christmas in July is a parable for the financial crisis, making it perfect to watch before your creditors come calling.