A note from Lindsey: This film was viewed as part of TMP’s Barbara Stanwyck Filmography Project. It was also viewed specifically for TMP’s holiday/winter film series, appearing every Friday in December.
Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the writer of a successful lifestyle column in which she shares recipes and tips, painting herself as the perfect housewife.
The trouble is, Elizabeth is no housewife at all. She has no children, and in fact, she has no husband either!
When Elizabeth’s boss decides to invite a war hero and fan of her column (Jeff, portrayed by Dennis Morgan) to her home to join in on her family’s traditional Christmas celebration, Elizabeth must try to cover up the truth, convincing both her boss and the veteran that she is the perfect housewife she made herself out to be.
Peter Godfrey directs 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut, a classic holiday film written for the screen by Lionel Houser and Adele Comandini. The film is based on a story by Aileen Hamilton. Starring alongside the amazing Ms. Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan are Sydney Greenstreet, S.Z. Sakall and Una O’Connor.
A cute opening tune and characters that are immediately endearing draw the viewer in from the first scene. The character of Jeff in particular wins the viewer over. He is the focus of the film’s earliest scenes, and his sense of humor and ability to make the best of his situation make him very likable.
About twenty minutes in, the viewer learns that Elizabeth’s “happy housewife” persona is all an act, making it apparent that from this point the film will be a comedy of white lies and mishaps.
Following the formula of a mishap-driven comedy, Christmas in Connecticut is a bit predictable. Elizabeth gets herself stuck in a love triangle which plays out in quite the expected way. However, the formula works here, thanks in large part to the fact that the performances are so great.
Most notable in the realm of performance are the efforts of Stanwyck and S.Z. Sakall, who share a number of delightful scenes together. Sakall is always a complete scene-stealer and this film is no exception to that rule. His character of Felix is incredibly fun to watch and adds a lot of humor to the film.
Stanwyck’s chemistry with Dennis Morgan is also successful throughout the film. It’s reminiscent of the adorable connection between Judy Garland and Robert Walker (as Alice and Joe, respectively) in The Clock, which was released in the same year as Christmas in Connecticut.
A snowy atmosphere and traditional holiday decor perfectly set the mood for this charming film. (And I can’t lie, it’d be tempting to marry Mr. Sloan if it meant being able to live in the wonderful house that acts as the setting for most of the film!)
Christmas in Connecticut is a super cute film, warming the chilled heart like an over-sized cable knit sweater. It makes for absolutely perfect viewing for the holiday season. This will be a must-watch in winter from now on! The score: 5/5