Saturday, December 02, 2006

Movie Review: Christmas In Connecticut

Last year as I was searching Netflix to create a Christmas watch list for the family, I remembered a movie that I had seen the last part of years before on the Classic Movie channel. I could not remember its title or who had stared in it. I only remembered that it was about a young woman who had created a fictional magazine character who was married and lived on a farm with her husband and their infant child. The crisis comes when the owner of the magazine she is writing for invites himself to her idyllic home for Christmas Eve and she must scramble and conjure up a husband, farm and baby in just a few days. What I had seen of it was extremely funny and I very badly wanted to try and find it again.

Somehow, I managed to stumble across the movie; Christmas in Connecticut staring Barbara Stanwyck and Denis Morgan, directed by Peter Godfrey and was produced by Warner Brothers 1945. While I more or less remembered the plot line, when we watched it as a family I discovered it was even more comical than I recalled and certainly a bit more complex.

Elizabeth Lane, (Stanwyck) is the authoress of a magazine column in Smart Housekeeping owned by tycoon Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet). Just as I recalled she had indeed invented a sham housewife, husband and infant, along with a fictional farm life in Connecticut for the magazine. However, she had also become famous for the wonderful gourmet meals she provides recipes for in her column, as well as the serene family life she has spun for her readers. In cahoots with Lane, is Dudley Beecham (Robert Shayne) her editor. When the big boss, Yardley, calls editor Beecham to demand that Mrs. Lane drop by his home and discuss the arrangements that he has made to have a homeless war hero spend Christmas with her and family on the farm in Connecticut both Lane and Beecham begin to learn the true meaning of the expression “Oh what tangle webs we weave, when first we begin to deceive!”

Rather than admit the truth to Yardley who is a stickler for honesty and integrity, they dig themselves further into the hole by conjuring up a dream farm and family and then whilst Lane struggles to play the part of the happily married wife of architect John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner), we watch her fall in love with the war hero Jefferson Jones (Denis Morgan). Adding to the comedy of the situation are the 'stand in' babies who keep changing sex as their mothers drop them off for Sloan’s housekeeper to baby-sit. Then there is the problem that Lane can not even boil water, let alone create these master pieces she has been cooking these past years in her fantasy double life. Enter the adorable Felix, (S.Z. Sakall) the chef who worships Lane as the result of some favor she did for him in the distant past, and who has been providing her with the recipes for her column. All of this adds up to a huge mix of laughs, funny lines and good fun for the family to watch.

Our whole family enjoyed this movie, bringing lots of guffaws from the older ones in the gang. Today when I watched it again on my laptop to refresh my memories, even Nathaniel, six, and Emma, four, happily sat by my side and watched it intently, often discussing together what was happening.
“That man is leaving now.”
No he’s not. See, they is still dancing!”
Perhaps it was more the treat of spending time alone with Mummy but they did appear to remain engaged the whole movie.

This movie, still available in black and white, can be found on DVD and can be purchased through Amazon or Movies Unlimited. I believe though that I bought our copy for less than you will find it for on either of these sites though, including shipping. This movie, in my humble opinion, is well worth harboring in any family movie library.

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