My mother once went through my home media collection and told me I didn’t have enough comedies in there. It is true that I tend to prefer horror, psychological thrillers, satire, Shakespearean tragedy, dystopian sci-fi, and noir to, well, fluffier fare, but my taste isn’t completely devoid of whimsy. If I was, then I’d hardly be recommending Christmas in Connecticut, pure concentrated Yuletide cheer in cinematic form.
Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth, a magazine writer whose readership thinks she’s tending to a baby and cows on a Connecticut farm, whipping up delicious homecooked meals and searching for the perfect rocking chair. In reality, she lives in a messy NYC apartment, spends her salary on mink coats, and probably couldn’t whip up a bowl of instant potatoes, let alone roasted duck. However, her publisher has no idea that Elizabeth isn’t who she claims to be and to boost sales, insists Elizabeth have war hero Jefferson Jones over for Christmas. Rushing to get a husband (a long-time admirer will have to do), a farm (luckily the long-time admirer has one), a baby (borrowed from a local woman while she’s off at work), and someone who can cook (Elizabeth’s chef pal “Uncle” Felix), Elizabeth also finds herself falling for the handsome Jefferson… too bad he thinks she’s a married woman!
The whole story is essentially a farce, not to be taken too seriously whatsoever. What always sticks out to me most is how borderline naughty the romance between Elizabeth and Jefferson is. For 90% of the runtime, he assumes she’s a married woman, and he reacts to her open flirting with a mixture of shock and titillation. Stanwyck and co-star Dennis Morgan have a great deal of chemistry, making their scenes a delight, and they get wonderful support from Sydney Greenstreet as Elizabeth’s publisher and SZ Sakall as Uncle Felix (his constant use of the term “honky-donky” always cracks me up).
So yeah—I’m not all gloom and doom! I can recommend Christmas films other than the moody Alastair Sims’ Scrooge or nihilistic noir like Blast of Silence!