- Directed by Peter Godfrey
- July 27, 1945 (NYC) / August 11, 1945 (US)
A lifestyle columnist who pretends to be a married mother living on a farm but is not must put on a charade when her boss invites an injured war vet up to her nonexistent home on Christmas to spend the holiday with her fictitious family.
Christmas in Connecticut is a classic romcom set around World War II during the Christmas season. It stars Barbara Stanwyck as lifestyle columnist Elizabeth Lane who does not live the lifestyle she writes about and the great Sydney Greenstreet (who was reportedly the inspiration for the physical appearance of Kingpin) as her boss Alexander Yardley from whom she is trying to keep that very secret.
The story is silly and sweet and very entertaining. It contains all the common elements of a romcom that one would find today traditional. The problems of Elizabeth are compounded by lies on top of lies and screwball situations and the one friend who understands how things should end up is working their best to make it happen.
Greenstreet was in the classic Casablanca along with S.Z. Sakall. Here he plays Elizabeth’s Uncle Felix. I admit to being uncertain during the film on whether or not the character of Felix was actually her uncle or just a very close friend. Felix is not above deception used to great comic effect to keep Elizabeth from marrying John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner), a man whose hobby seems to be regularly asking the uninterested Elizabeth for her hand in marriage.
Una O’Connor appears as Sloan’s housekeeper Norah. Why do I bring her up? Because she was in the original The Invisible Man. It was bothering me where I had seen her before and I just had to look it up.
One thing that worked back then but would not work now is how Elizabeth comes to have access to the Connecticut dream home which she hopes will help sell her lie to Yardley. Her suitor has apparently been proposing marriage quite regularly for a long time and she has regularly shot him down. I cannot see audiences today being cool with this. This was a standard romcom device and was a rather harmless element meant to demonstrate any number of things but would definitely come off as stalker-ish today.
And in reality I do not think any woman of any era would have put up with it no matter the era but for speed of story it is just fine. It quickly creates romantic entanglements and comic situations with only the most minimal of effort. You do not have unlimited time in any film.
Elizabeth is swept off her feet almost immediately when she meets dashing soldier Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan). I would say the moment is right out of a Lifetime movie but it is clear that the Lifetime movie element is right out of this. Jones is everything Elizabeth wants but never knew she desired or needed.
Stanwyck is utterly charming as the career woman who finds herself attracted to Jones and is struggling to figure a way out of her situation and keep her job and get the guy she really wants. I have not seen much of Stanwyck’s work, knowing her only from The Big Valley and Double Indemnity, and was pleased with how well she handled this comedy. Sakall as Felix generates some of the biggest laughs in the film and is a bit of a scene stealer.
Christmas in Connecticut is funnier than most romcoms not only of the era but in general. The jokes don’t just make you smile but they will actually make you laugh. There are moments of awkward humor as well as outright silliness. The dialogue is witty and the performances are fantastic.
Christmas in Connecticut is a great holiday romantic comedy. You will enjoy it from beginning to end. I say watch it!