You'd have to be a grump not to like this funny, sentimental blend of pathos, drama and zaniness. It may have been former art director Leisen's best directorial effort, mainly due to the superior Sturges script. Sturges had a way with designing a picture so it could get right to the

brink of syrup, then pull back with an hysterical comedy sequence. Conversely, just as the humor was about to disintegrate into chaotic slapstick, Sturges would throw a curve that put the story back onto a firm, dramatic footing. Stanwyck is a tough cookie with a shoplifting habit. Christmas is

approaching and she decides to give herself a present, a bracelet of diamonds. She's caught by the security people and sent to jail to await trial. She's been in twice before for the same sort of crime and the judge decides to deal with her after the Christmas holidays. MacMurray is to prosecute

her in his job as assistant district attorney. He's going home to Indiana for the holiday and when he learns that Stanwyck is also from the same state, he gets her out of jail in his custody. He takes her to her home, but her mother, Georgia Caine, wants nothing to do with her. MacMurray takes her

to his home to meet his mother, Bondi, his aunt, Patterson, and their handyman, Holloway. Stanwyck has never been part of such a loving family and is struck by the closeness. She and MacMurray are soon in love but she holds back, fearing that it could never be permanent. She considers fleeing,

then changes her mind and returns to New York for the trial. Her defense attorney, Robertson (who usually played the stern judge or vicious no-nonsense prosecutor) makes an impassioned and funny plea on Stanwyck's behalf, but that all goes out the window when she pleads guilty and accepts the

brief jail term. It goes without saying that MacMurray will be waiting for her when she is released. It could have been maudlin and dreary in many other hands but Leisen and Sturges have made this a wonderful Yuletide movie that's good watching any time of year. Three songs: "Easy Living" (Ralph

Rainger, Leo Robin, sung by Martha Mears in a nightclub sequence), "Back Home in Indiana" (James F. Hanely, Ballard MacDonald, performed by Mears and the King's Men), and "End of a Perfect Day" (Carrie Jacobs Band, sung by Holloway as Stanwyck plays the piano).