Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

After spending 18 days floating on a raft after a submarine attack and six weeks in a hospital recovering, the only thing Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) can think about is a good meal.  While he’s in the hospital, he starts flirting with his nurse Mary (Joyce Compton) in hopes of getting that good meal, but Mary ends up falling in love with him and wants to get marry him.  When Jefferson says he doesn’t want to get married, Mary assumes it’s because he’s never had a proper home.  Determined to give Jefferson the best traditional, down home Christmas ever, she writes to Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) and asks if he could spend Christmas with her.  Elizabeth writes a magazine column about living on her farm in Connecticut with her husband, baby, and all of her delectable recipes and is the envy of housewives all across the country.  What America doesn’t realize is that Elizabeth really lives in Manhattan, isn’t married, has no children, and can’t cook to save her life.  She tries to get out of it, but her publisher Mr. Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) realizes this event would make a spectacular publicity stunt and makes her go through with it.  And to top it all off, Mr. Yardley invites himself along to this event!

Elizabeth and her boyfriend John Sloan (Reginald Gardner) frantically rush to create the life that she’s talked about in her articles.  They get the Connecticut farm, borrow a baby, bring along Felix (who actually creates all of Elizabeth’s recipes), and even arrange to finally get married.  As for the wedding, they arrange for a judge to come by the farm before Jefferson is supposed to arrive, but Jefferson arrives earlier than expected, so the wedding has to wait.  With Jefferson around, Elizabeth realizes she’s completely incompetent at actually living up to her image.  She can’t bathe the baby, change its diaper, or flip pancakes, but she’s able to fake it enough to make Jefferson start to fall in love with her.  Elizabeth also falls in love with Jefferson and gladly accepts all the events that delay her marriage to John.  The only person who knows how she feels about Jefferson is Felix, who helps create some of those wedding delays.

Jefferson really does have the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas, but the charade becomes harder and harder to keep up.  First, they weren’t able to use the same baby for both days and the two babies look nothing alike.  Mr. Yardley starts talking to John and tells him he wants Elizabeth to have another baby because it’d be good for his magazine sales.  When everyone is invited to a community dance, Jefferson and Elizabeth sneak away from the festivities and sit in a horse-drawn sleigh, but much to their surprise, the horse starts taking them for a ride.  They flirt during their impromptu sleigh ride, but then the police find them and accuse them of stealing the sleigh and bring them to jail for the rest of the night.  Meanwhile, back at the farm, the mother of the borrowed baby comes to pick up her baby.  When she finds everyone asleep, she just takes her baby and leaves, but Yardley sees her and thinks she’s kidnapping Elizabeth’s baby.  Elizabeth and Yardley come home the next morning to a bunch of reporters who don’t understand why she’s not more concerned about her kidnapped baby.  Realizing her goose is cooked, she tells Mr. Yardley the truth and is fired, then she breaks up with John.  As she’s packing to go home, Mary drops by unexpectedly and announces that she’s married Jefferson’s shipmate instead.  Felix makes one last attempt to push Jefferson and Elizabeth together and succeeds.  They decide to get married, because Jefferson loves her even if she can’t really cook.

Christmas in Connecticut is absolutely essential viewing for me every year at Christmas time.  It’s so funny and thoroughly charming.  If it weren’t for the fact that it’s a Christmas movie, it’s one of those movies I’d probably watch frequently year-round.  The cast is perfect.  When I saw this for the first time, I’d already seen movies like Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve, so I already knew Barbara Stanwyck could do very well with comedy, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by how delightful she was here.  I also thought it was interesting to see Sydney Greenstreet in a comedy because when I think of Sydney Greenstreet, I think of Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, not exactly lighthearted stuff.  Dennis Morgan was very charming and S. Z. Skall as Felix brought lots of comedy.  Truly a wonderful movie.

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3 comments

    1. Thanks! If you’ve never seen it before, you’re really in for a treat. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel all warm and cozy on cold days.

  1. This is my favorite holiday/christmas film. Its a must for me! Great review! Now we just need to push TCM to play it more around the holidays!

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