Christmas in Connecticut
  

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Peter Godfrey
Writers: Lionel Houser, Adele Comandini, Aileen Hamilton (story)
Cast:

  • Barbara StanwyckElizabeth Lane, food writer
      
  • Joyce Compton — Mary Lee, Navy nurse
  • Dick Elliott — Judge Crothers
  • Reginald Gardiner — John Sloan, architect
  • Sydney Greenstreet — Alexander Yardley, magazine publisher
  • Olaf Hytten — Elkins, Yardley's butler
  • Frank Jenks — Sinkewicz, Navy sailor
  • Dennis Morgan — Jefferson Jones, Navy sailor
  • Una O'Connor — Norah, Sloan's housekeeper
  • S. Z. Sakall — Felix Bassenak, chef
  • Robert Shayne — Dudley Beecham, editor
Warner Brothers: 1945
black & white; 102 minutes
December 2012

  
A sparkling romantic comedy

The film Christmas in Connecticut has a plot wherein a fairly harmless deception threatens to blow up in its perpetrators' faces. This happens in real life as well as in dramas; here, it powers a sparkling romantic comedy. It's all good-natured, and there are no bad guys.

Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a food writer for a major national magazine, who writes vividly and charmingly of her family life on her farm in Connecticut, her articles bejeweled with wonderful recipes. The problem is that she lives in a New York City apartment, has no such family and knows nothing of farming, and can't cook. The excellent recipes, however, are real, provided by her steadfast friend Felix, a restaurant owner played by S. Z. Sakall.

The crisis comes when a U.S. Navy sailor (Dennis Morgan), at the end of his recuperation period after being torpedoed and nearly starving adrift, is invited by big publisher Sydney Greenstreet to spend a down-home family Christmastime at Elizabeth Lane's farmhouse in rural Connecticut, and have a wonderful Christmas dinner with her as well as husband and baby. A good deed, a patriotic thing to do, and a nice publicity stunt for the magazine chain.

Since none of her magazine attributes exist, Barbara Stanwyck has to cobble them together out of thin air, drawing together an unwieldy team of pretenders, including someone who can cook, her "Uncle Felix".
  

All this plotted confusion holds together very well, well-written with plenty of tight turns and surprises; the movie is Christmas-stuffed with wit, fun, warmth, romance, comedy. Barbara Stanwyck glows in the lead part. Press-fitting her good-hearted elegance as magazine writer into pretend farmwife and cook requires of her expressive face a wide spectrum of emotion, and she performs beautifully.

The entire cast does a fine job. Christmas in Connecticut is a delight.

  

  
© 2012 Robert Wilfred Franson


  
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