Star in the Night, an Award Winning Holiday Short

With Christmas Day right around the corner, two meals to prep for, gifts to wrap, stockings to stuff,  and more goodies to bake, this will probably be my last post until January 2015.  I decided it would be right and fitting to write about a short film that I saw on Turner Classics last year in December, Warner Brothers 1945 Star in the Night.

Star in the NIght

Star in the Night, is a modern(1945 modern) re-telling of the Nativity story.  It was written by Robert Finch and Saul Elkins, produced by Gordon Hollingshead, and directed by Don Siegel.  It was Siegel’s first film to direct and it touched so many audiences and the Motion Picture Academy that it won the Oscar for Best Short Subject in 1946.  Siegel went on to direct more films, including the first Invasion of the Body Snatchers, several Clint Eastwood starring movies, such as Dirty Harry, and John Wayne’s last movie, The Shootist.

A Star in the Night is set on Christmas Eve, at a diner/motel in a small Southwestern US community.  Instead of 3 wise men who see a star in the sky and follow it, we meet 3 cowboys riding the range late at night who see the light from the motel’s”Star” sign and follow it to find hot coffee and a warm place to get away from  the night’s coldness.  The motel owner, Nick Catapoli, is a bit of a grump/scrooge.  He’s tired, wants to just close up for the night and go to bed.  He’s grumbling about how people treat each other nowadays, poorly in his opinion.  His wife, Rosa, is much more optimistic about life than Nick is, and she bustles about greeting all who enter the motel and doesn’t want to close up early.  Besides the 3 cowboys, there is a traveling salesman drinking coffee, a hitchhiker-who challenges Nick on his dire views of mankind, a lady complaining about the noise from a traveling singing group(whom we hear but don’t meet) who are next to her room, a traveling married couple, and then we meet a young couple who need a place to stay, Jose and  his very pregnant wife, Maria.

As soon as Jose receives some hot coffee and Maria is looked in on, it is quickly discovered by Rosa that the young woman is in labor!  The negative views, bickerings that were going on, complaints by motel guests-the negativity abruptly stops and all jump in to help  this young couple.   Alls well that ends well, and Nick gains  a much better outlook about his fellow man.

I was not familiar with any of the cast members other than J. Carroll Naish, who plays Nick.  Naish was one of Hollywood’s excellent character actors,  and despite being of Irish descent, he was often called upon to play Spanish or Italian characters due to his olive skin tone and black hair.

J. Carroll Naish as Nick, the motel owner

J. Carroll Naish as Nick, the motel owner

I have posted the link from Youtube, where a very kind soul  has put Star in the Night in order for it to be viewed. With this, I will sign off and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


11 responses to this post.

  1. This sounds like a good one. We don’t hear enough about dramatic shorts from the sound era.


  2. This sounds like a short worth checking out! Thanks for sharing the link too. 🙂


  3. Thanks so much for joining in with the intriguing bit of film history.


    • You are most welcome, Fritzi. I do apologize as I decided to reblog a blog I had done back in December, and I couldn’t figure out how to put a banner advertising the Shorts blogathon on my reblogged blog. My techno-illiteracy is a hindrance at times.


      • Don’t worry at all. There are several reposts in the event. I figure if you already have the perfect post written, why not share it again?

  4. The first film I ever saw on TCM when it became available with out cable package. I was channel surfing and came upon the cast of favourite character actors in an unfamiliar setting. “Star in the Night” made a place in my heart.


    • Yes, it is a special short to me too. The first time I watched it tears filled my eyes, much as they did J. Carroll Naish’s near the end when he looks at the calendar on the wall and sees the scene in his shed, a mirror-image of the calendar’s picture.


  5. Reblogged this on portraitsbyjenni and commented:

    This post from Dec., 2014 is my contribution to Movies, Silently’s wonderful Shorts: A Tiny Blogathon Be sure to visit Fritzi’s sight to read about more of these pithy, witty, some funny, and some more serious-minded short films that were shown by movie theaters before the featured attraction.


  6. Like many of the movies you write about, this is one I’ve not heard of before. It sounds really intriguing. Thanks for sharing the link! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: