Christmas in Connecticut
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Christmas in Connecticut (1945) (DVD)
Barbara Stanwyck stars as a famous expert on marriage, cooking and homemaking who is asked by her publisher to host a national hero for Christmas dinner at her famous Connecticut home. It should be simple, but she must scramble to keep the secret that she's single, can't cook and doesn't own a home. With a lot of help, meticulous planning and split-second timing, the urban sophisticate may succeed . . . but the unforeseen happens when she falls in love with her guest in this classic romantic comedy.]]>
- Vintage Oscar-winning short: "Star in the Night"
- Theatrical trailer
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I was rather disappointed by "CinC" despite a terrific cast including Barbara Stanwyck and Sidney Greenstreet (both playing to their strengths), SZ "Cuddles" Sakall (the comic waiter from "Casablanca") and Una O'Connor (the rubber-faced Irishwoman from a zillion movies in the 30's and 40's, most notably "The Invisible Man" and "Adventures of Robin Hood") providing comic relief.
The problem for me is the story. "Elizabeth Lane" has concocted a fraudulent lifestyle to keep her job as a columnist. When she faces exposure, she is resigned to losing her job and accepts an offer of marriage from her longtime beau John Sloan. When Elizabeth remembers that Sloan has a farm in Connecticut like the one she's been writing about, her fiancee agrees to help fool her boss but they still plan on getting married before the guests arrive. The ceremony is interrupted by the early arrival of Jefferson Jones and almost instantly Elizabeth Lane starts flirting with him. ("What would you say to me if I wasn't married, Mr. Jones?") Although Sloan isn't right for her (he's much too self-absorbed for one thing), that still doesn't excuse Elizabeth from shamelessly flirting with one man while engaged to another in the next room.
(One could point out that Jefferson Jones isn't much better: flirting with his nurse to get better hospital food. But in his case, he's honest enough to admit to the nurse that he isn't ready to settle down.) The whole thing ends happily only due to a deus ex machina from out of left field.
While not a classic (romantic or holiday), this is still a diverting film with an engaging cast. This edition also features the Academy Award winning short "A Star in the Night" directed by Don Siegel. Basically a modern day Nativity Story with elements of "A Christmas Carol" thrown in. Despite the lack of a big name cast and the fact that you can see the ending a mile away, I found this movie to be more affecting than "CinC."
When the film begins, we meet Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) who, with a little help from her friend "Uncle" Felix (S. K. Sakall) and her coworker Dudley (Robert Shayne), has managed to con magazine magnate Alexander Yardley (Sidney Greenstreet). She has Yardley, her top manager boss, believing that she is actually living on a farm in Connecticut, cooking incredible recipes with her husband and living the perfect, clean cut lifestyle. In actuality, however, Elizabeth rents a relatively small Manhattan apartment and she's very much ambivalent about her boyfriend John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner). In fact, Elizabeth can't even boil an egg--her recipes come to her courtesy of her good friend "Uncle" Felix who runs a restaurant!
It isn't long before the action starts. Yardley gets a letter from a nurse who works in a military hospital, Mary Lee (Joyce Compton). One of the people she nurses is a man who had to survive eighteen days without food in a life raft after his battleship was sunk by an enemy torpedo during World War Two. (Look for a nice cameo by Frank Jenks as the serviceman's buddy, Sinkewicz). Yardley instantly realizes that this would be a great publicity event if Elizabeth would host Christmas dinner at her farm in Connecticut for this poor serviceman--and this, of course, creates a huge crisis for Elizabeth who can't say no to her boss!
Of course, there are good and bad things that come Elizabeth's way as the plot unfolds. Her boyfriend John again proposes; and if she says "yes" he'll let Elizabeth use his own farm in Connecticut as hers for that Christmas dinner. Elizabeth doesn't love John and he knows that; but John thinks she will change her mind slowly but surely after they're married. Another complication is that Alexander Yardley invites himself to her Christmas dinner--and that serviceman, Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan), turns out to be quite a guest, to say the least!
I won't give plot spoilers but I will say that every minute of this film is captivating. It's so well done; I think you'll like it. It truly has a universal appeal. In addition, there's a bonus entitled "A Star in the Night."
Christmas In Connecticut is a perennial favorite for many good reasons: the acting; the comedy and the fast moving plot with characters you can truly like. I highly recommend this film for fans of the actors in this movie; and fans of classic movies in general would do well to add this to their collections.