Although my sentimental favorite may be “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Christmas film that I truly want to watch every year is the Barbara Stanwyck starrer “Christmas in Connecticut”.
To me, this 1945 release has everything: Holiday cheer, screwball antics, romance and the incomparable Stanwyck.
I grew up only knowing her from her “Big Valley” days when she was older; Thus, I was hugely surprised and pleased when I saw movies she made during her prime when she was amongst the best of the best actors of her generation. She could be modern and independent yet vulnerable, hilarious and goofy, or scary and evil – basically whatever was required. Yet she was no chameleon, always exuding her own personality and star power.
Here, Stanwyck’s in modern, hilarious and loveable mode, playing a very urban single woman with no cooking skills named Elizabeth Lane pretending through her column in a women’s magazine that she’s the consummate wife, mother, and homemaker. Her restauranteur uncle Felix provides her with the recipes and her writing skills and imagination do the rest, all unbeknownst to the public and her publisher, who puts her in a bind when he invites a war her to spend a traditional Connecticut Christmas with her and her “family”.
To save her career, all she needs to do is conjure up a husband, a baby, a Connecticut home, plus cooking skills. No problem, right?
A huge amount of fun is generated in watching her solve obstacle after obstacle, all the while falling for the war hero, played by the handsome Dennis Morgan.
The top-notch cast also includes S.Z. Sakill as her uncle Felix, Una O’Connor as the rather traditional housekeeper Norah, and Sydney Greenstreet best known for “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca” as her publisher Alexander Yardley.
It’s not currently available on streaming devices, as far as I can see, but can be rented on Amazon Prime. Make some time to see his classic, if you can, and behold the magnificence of Barbara Stanwyck.