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Holiday Affair

Holiday Affair

Image credit: Holiday Affair, 1949.

Poor Carl. All he wants for Christmas is for Janet Leigh to accept his proposal of marriage. He’s been waiting TWO YEARS, for god sakes. Two years of putting up with her bratty kid, watching her walk around in pointy brassieres, and being treated like the family Labrador. And now, at Christmas, he’s forced to watch his lady fall for the bedroom eyes of Robert Mitchum, an unemployed bum who hangs out in the park and gets arrested for stealing salt and pepper shakers. Holiday Affair (Disc/Download) may be billed as a charming holiday romance, but make no mistake- this film is a sad reminder that nice guys finish last.

I thought I’d seen the pinnacle of annoying child actors in the 1953 western Shane. But then came Timmy. Timmy is the kind of kid who badgers his broke single mom for the most expensive Christmas present on the market, thus making her feel guilty for all of her life choices. Timmy also turns the “poor me” face on Robert Mitchum’s character Steve, convincing this guy who just lost his job to spend a bunch of money on a kid he barely knows. Meanwhile, Carl the Earnest Lawyer wants to give Timmy and his mom a stable home and a hefty joint bank account. Does Timmy want that? No, of course not. He kicks Carl in the leg, screams his head off, and tries his damnest to fix his mom up with the hot bum. I have two words for Timmy’s Mom: Birth. Control.

I’m of the opinion that pretty much every Robert Mitchum film should be watched with Bourbon. This is a man’s man if there ever was one. Because I spent this movie mostly wanting to smash Timmy’s face in, while watching Holiday Affair I recommend drinking a Holiday Bourbon Smash.

Holiday Bourbon Smash

2 oz Bourbon

1 oz Pear Liqueur

2 oz Apple Cider

1 oz Lemon Juice

2 tbsp Cinnamon Pear jam

Club Soda

Cinnamon Stick Garnish

Combine the bourbon, pear liqueur, apple cider, lemon juice, and jam in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well mixed, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Holiday Bourbon Smash.jpeg

The thing about this film is, I should love it. A single-mom-finding-romance-again is one of my favorite tropes! That Holiday Affair fails to light my yule log might be because I’ve read so many wonderful novels that do a much better job with this story. An old favorite of mine is Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Dream a Little Dream, which features an adorably sweet kid, the feisty widow of a televangelist, and her romance with a hunky drive-in movie theater owner. There isn’t a Christmas tree, but did I mention he owns a movie theater??  Cheers!

The Hudsucker Proxy

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Image credit PolyGram Entertainment, 1994, The Hudsucker Proxy

Image credit PolyGram Entertainment, 1994, The Hudsucker Proxy

Every year in December, I get out my boxes of ornaments and the plastic Christmas tree and put on that classic holiday record by Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know the main song, where Alvin longs for a hula hoop? Well, the hula hoop inspired this week’s Cinema Sips pick, an underrated Coen Brothers gem The Hudsucker Proxy (DVD/Download).

An homage to so many wonderful films of the 1930’s and 40’s (His Girl Friday, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sullivan’s Travels, etc.), The Hudsucker Proxy follows everyman Norville Barnes (played by Tim Robbins) on his journey from Muncie, Indiana to New York City circa 1958. He gets a job in the mailroom of Hudsucker Industries, but dreams of bigger things. His dream includes a piece of paper with a circle on it, which would later turn out to be the hula hoop. Through a complicated series of events, Norville finds himself promoted to CEO of Hudsucker, where he takes the company to great heights with the hula hoop idea. Eventually, things spiral out of control as his ego gets larger and larger, until he finds himself on the ledge of the forty-fourth floor of the Hudsucker building on New Year’s Eve, ready to jump. Unfortunately this film was a box office flop when it was released, but I still love it for the amazing production design (think Art Deco meets Bauhaus), fabulous costumes, and sparkling script. Plus, any film featuring Paul Newman is okay by me.

My drink this week is inspired by Norville and his lady love Amy Archer’s love of martinis. A great festive version of the classic martini is the pear martini. I like to dress it up with a little fresh pear and cranberries to give it a holiday feel.  When watching The Hudsucker Proxy, I recommend drinking a Holiday Pear Martini.

Holiday Pear Martini

1 ½ oz Vodka

3/4 oz Pear liqueur

3/4 oz St. Germain

1 oz lemon juice

Fresh Pear and cranberries for garnish

Combine vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, and pear liqueur over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with fresh pear and cranberries.  Bendy straw optional.

holiday-pear-martini

The Hudsucker Proxy is classic Coen Brothers holiday fun, and I’m so excited to watch it again this year. It makes me wish that women still wore hats and talked like Rosalind Russell. As the stress of the holiday sets in, remember to take a two-hour break with this film and a tasty cocktail, and maybe even put on that old Alvin and the Chipmunks record. You know, for kids ;-).