Holiday Classics: “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut” is my personal favorite holiday movie. It’s chock full of delightful actors, hilarious situations, and is set in the most Christmas-y little town you could ever imagine—even if in reality it was just a set on the Warner Brothers lot. The story revolves around Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck), a food columnist for a magazine who, in addition to delectable recipes, writes about her husband, baby, and their farm in Connecticut. The only problem is, the real Elizabeth lives in a New York apartment, isn’t married, doesn’t have a baby, and can’t cook—her chef friend Felix (S.Z. Sakall) provides her with all the recipes.

Enter war hero Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan). After surviving for nearly two weeks on a lifeboat, Jones is rescued and sent to a hospital, where he gets engaged to his nurse Mary (Joyce Compton) in exchange for a good meal. Mary wants Jones to have a homey Christmas, so she writes to Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet), the publisher of the magazine Elizabeth writes for, and gets him to have Elizabeth host Jefferson at her Connecticut farm for the holidays. Yardley, who doesn’t know Elizabeth is a sham, agrees and invites himself along. Fortunately for Elizabeth, architect John Sloan (Reginald Gardner) wants Elizabeth to marry him, and just happens to own a beautiful farmhouse in Connecticut. The farce holds up for a while, but the situation gets complicated when Elizabeth falls in love with Jefferson.

Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) and Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) in “Christmas in Connecticut”

The premise of “Christmas in Connecticut” is ripe for endless hilarity, and the screenwriters and director Peter Godfrey take advantage of it to the fullest. The humor is nonstop as Elizabeth tries to juggle disguising the fact she can’t cook, passing off someone else’s baby as her own, and marrying John, all while trying to prevent Jefferson and Yardley from finding out the truth. Barbara Stanwyck, who was better known for her dramatic performances but was equally adept at comedy, is the perfect fit for Elizabeth; the tough girl status she gained from her previous movies, particularly the 1944 film noir “Double Indemnity”, suit her well here, as she isn’t exactly typical housewife material. Reginald Gardner is hilarious as the stuffy Sloan, while Dennis Morgan—a top leading man at Warner Brothers in the 1940s—serves as the straight man. One of the best parts of “Christmas in Connecticut” is the wonderful cast of supporting players it boasts. Two of the greatest character actors of their time, Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, appear here and are delightful; it’s especially entertaining to see the usually serious Greenstreet in a more upbeat movie. Una O’Connor also appears as Sloan’s cook Norah, while Robert Shayne, best known for playing the Inspector on television’s “The Adventures of Superman”, plays Elizabeth’s editor.

All of these factors combine to make “Christmas in Connecticut” perfect holiday viewing, and easily rewatchable. If you haven’t seen it before, watch it; if you have, then watch it again.

“Christmas in Connecticut” is available to rent or buy on all digital platforms. It is also airing on Turner Classic Movies this holiday season on the following days:

Sunday, December 6th at 6 PM EST

Tuesday, December 22nd at 8 PM EST

Thursday, December 24th at 6 PM EST

Runtime: 101 minutes.

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