Compliments of the Season (1930)

US / 13 minutes / bw / Warner Bros., Vitaphone Dir: Arthur Hurley Scr: Paul Girard Smith, E.K. Nadel Cine: Ed DuPar Cast: Eric Dressler, Lenita Lane, Weldon Heyburn, Pat O’Brien.

A short movie with some protonoirish overtones and, as the title suggests, a great deal of seasonal interest.

Eric Dressler as Jimmy.

It’s Christmas Eve in New York and pickpocket Jimmy “Fingers” Dugan (Dressler), not long out of stir, is doing his best to go straight. When he encounters a young woman (Lane) who’s just about to throw herself off a bridge, he pulls her back. Turns out she’s come to the city in search of the man she fell in love with and has given up hope of ever finding him—hence her despair. The fact that it’s Christmastime has just made her dilemma seem all the worse.

To cheer her up, Jimmy suggests they spend the evening together—just as pals. Trouble is, they don’t have so much as a dime between them. And Jimmy knows only one way of getting money in a hurry . . .

The denouement of the tale depends on a coincidence so palpably absurd that it’s only in a Christmas movie you could hope to get away with it.

Pat O’Brien as the cop.

Weldon Heyburn as Bill and Lenita Lane as the young woman.

Pat O’Brien plays an unnamed cop who’s been tailing Jimmy, waiting to pounce the first time he steps off the straight and narrow. Weldon Heyburn plays the man whom Jimmy accosts in the street, Bill.

The dialogue has its moments, mainly thanks to fast-talker Jimmy, who has a habit of mixing his clichés to surprising effect: “Don’t forget that he who laughs last gathers the moss,” for example. But it’s O’Brien’s cop who has the line that made my grin the broadest, not so much because of its joke as because it really brought home to me just how old this little movie is:

“You’ve got about as much chance of going straight as a woman driving a car on Sunday.”

5 thoughts on “Compliments of the Season (1930)

  1. Seasons Greetings! I’m using my time off from teaching to read blogs that I’ve neglected keeping up with. I thought that was a snapshot of Pat O’Brien and I’m glad my guess was proven right.

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