Christmas in July (1940) is the second film directed by the brilliant Preston Sturges after The Great McGinty. Although the movie has the word Christmas in the title, that's all that's Christmasy about the movie but for my purposes that's more than enough.
Christmas in July features Dick Powell as an office clerk who has entered the Maxford House Coffee Slogan contest. He has dreams of winning the grand prize of $25,000.
"If you can't sleep, it isn't the coffee. It's the bunk."
Three of his co-workers decide to play a prank on him and send a fake telegram informing Powell that he won the contest. They assume that Powell will find out that he didn't actually win and they can all have a laugh about. Things don't quite go as planned as nobody seems to catch on that Powell didn't win and as a result he goes on a spending frenzy, buying stuff for his mom, his fiance (Ellen Drew) and gifts for all the poor people in his neighbourhood.
For those unfamiliar with Sturges work, he was the master of the screwball comedy. Rocket fire dialogue, the occasional social commentary and outrageous slapstick were his trademarks. His movies are just damn funny stuff. He had string of classics, one right after another. The Great McGinty, The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and of course this film. All of them are worth watching.