If you’re looking for something that isn’t the usual Christmas movie then try this one. It’s a great cast in a story of an eccentric wealthy women who wants her three adopted sons home for Christmas. One flaw is Randolph’s Scott’s character. Because he’s so well known for westerns they have him spouting western type dialogue that is supposed to be more appropriate for a western. It quickly wears thin as the script tries to be way too cute with it.
In New York,wealthy Aunt Matilda (Ann Harding) is giving away a lot of money and her nephew Philip (Reginald Denny) thinks she’s senile. He gets Judge Alston (Clarence Kolb) and a psychiatrist to try and declare her incompetent to handle her estate and make him executor. She says her three adopted sons, who are off on their own adventures, will show up on Christmas Eve to prove she can handle her money.
In a few cut ins to the stories she holds a press conference to get her plight in the papers hoping her sons will see them. She also hires a private detective (Joe Sawyer) to try and find her sons.
Michael (George Brent) is a playboy. He’s about to marry the wealthy Harriet Rhodes for her money. He’s staying in a New York hotel and she’s going to meet him in his room and then they’re off. That’s until his former girlfriend Ann Nelson (Joan Blondell) shows up. Michael bought Harriet seventy-five thousand dollars worth of gifts to attract her. The checks all bounced. Philip says he’ll cover them figuring that will make Michael too ashamed to go home. Michael goes to Philip’s office with Ann right behind him. Michael comes out of Philip’s office with ten grand. Knowing he’s been bought off Ann leaves him.
Next up is the best part of the movie. Mario (George Raft) owns a nightclub in South America. He’s on the run from a fraud charge in New Orleans. Waiting in his office is FBI agent Joe Bland (John Litel). Mario’s girlfriend Claire has just returned from a couple weeks in the mountains.
Bland mentions the name of escaped Nazi war criminal Gustav Reichman. Claire overhears and takes off. Bland shows Mario a picture of Claire and Reichman. He tells Mario that Claire was not in the mountains. He wants his help in capturing Gustav. Claire is holding ten million dollars of his loot for him. Outside the club Gustav’s men grab Mario and hold him hostage on their boat. Gustav works him over. Then Claire arrives and Mario knows it’s all true.
Aunt Matilda sees a film of a rodeo and there’s Jonathan (Randolph Scott) riding a bucking bronco. Jonathan never met a drink he didn’t like. Meeting him at Grand Central Station are Williams the butler (Dennis Hoey) and Robert the chauffeur. Jonathan takes Williams into a bar for large drink. He can’t help but see a woman watching him through the window.
There’s a charity auction going on and she bids for a bassinet. He outbids her. Her name is Jean (Dolores Moran). She says she’s about to have a baby and has Robert drive her to Doctor Bunyan’s (Douglas Dumbrille) office. That’s where Jonathan finds out she’s not pregnant but wants to adopt a baby. Bunyan has three infant girls up for adoption.
Jean is actually an investigator looking into the phony adoption racket and needed Jonathan to pose as her husband. She finally shows Bunyan her ID. He and his nurse escape after knocking Jonathan over the head and stashing her in a closet.
It’s Christmas Eve. Philip and the judge show up at Aunt Matilda’s to wait and see if any or all of the three boys are going to show up.
This skates on thin ice to qualify as a Christmas movie. It does have a few spots of music on the soundtrack and of course Aunt Matilda has a Christmas tree. The story could have been done without all the Christmas references but it’s still worth checking out.
TV fans know Clarence Kolb as Mr.Honeywell on “My Little Margie” (1952-55).
Sherlock Holmes fans know Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade.