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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Movie Review: "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945) ❅

You see that snowflake up in the title bar? That snowflake means something exciting! It means the start to my Four Sundays of Christmas! :D

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and Christmastime is the very best time of the year for me. Shimmery presents under the tree, mountains of snow, Christmas carols lilting through the crisp winter air, warm winter clothes, and two weeks off of school - all of it has me bursting with the holiday spirit, and I adore it. 

Hand in hand with Christmas comes "movies," and not just because Christmas vacation allows me the opportunity to divulge in a movie nearly every night, but because there are so many awesome classic Christmas movies to watch! 

I think a great way to share with you my favorite Christmas movies would be to review one each week for my Sunday Movie Review. According to the calendar, there's a total of four Sundays in December, the last one being Christmas itself. On each of these Sundays, starting today, the 4th, I'll be sharing with you lovely classic Christmas films. The snowflake is my little emblem of approval. :)

Also, Sally over at the lovely Flying Down to Hollywood is hosting "12 Days of Christmas," which basically calls for twelve reviews of holiday films. I think she did this last year, but then again, I wasn't a blogger yet. ;) Anyhow, I snatched up a spot this year, and one of the films I will review for my Four Sundays of Christmas will also be a part of that blogathon. More on that when we come around to it!

Finally, I know I already have my little phonograph of songs for you on this blog, but with each post I'd like to include a classic Christmas carol to get you in the mood. So each Sunday this December, we'll have a classic movie and song, too!

This week's movie is "Christmas in Connecticut," (1945) with Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. This week's carol is from Judy Garland in the 1944 movie, "Meet Me in St. Louis". (Some people consider it a Christmas film; as much as I love the movie, I don't really think so, because only a portion of the movie takes place on Christmas - and besides, the St. Louis Fair came in the spring!) Anyway, I'll just shut up and let you enjoy Judy's glorious voice:

 "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (1944) by the always lovely Judy Garland.


The post: Adorable and exciting, setting the mood for the actual film.

The plot:
In this welcome addition to the canon of mandatory yuletide viewing, Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a magazine columnist who touts herself as a blissful wife, mother and expert homemaker living on an idyllic Connecticut farm. Trouble is, it's all a lie. When her pudgy publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) cooks up a scheme to boost circulation by having Elizabeth entertain a war veteran (Dennis Morgan) on Christmas Eve, will her charade unravel? [from Netflix]

The starring players:

  • Barbara Stanwyck as Elizabeth Lane
  • Dennis Morgan as Jefferson Jones
  • Sydney Greenstreet as Alexander Yardely 
  • S.Z "Cuddles" Sakall as Felix Bassenak
The verdict:
To begin with, I absolutely adore this plot! I wouldn't call it a screwball comedy, but it certainly has many of the elements of one, beginning with the fact that it's based on a complete misunderstanding. It's heavy on the comedy but the romance is sweet and sincere, and the balance of both really complimented each other. Anyway, the plot itself swells with promise and it was done so satisfyingly right!

I tend to like Barbara Stanwyck best in comedies: "The Lady Eve," "Ball of Fire," and then there's this. I think she did dramas more often, but I always enjoy her the best in a nice romantic comedy like this. She's really quite perfect as Elizabeth Lane, who is forced to deal with this hilarious predicment she has gotten herself into. She also has good chemistry with the leading male, Dennis Morgan.

Which brings me to him: I honestly had never seen him anything before this movie. I hear he got his big break opposite Ginger in "Kitty Foyle," five years before this, but I haven't seen latter mentioned film (yet). Anyway, I did enjoy his performance in this, though I don't plan to add him to my all time favorites list; and he sings a very lovely song in this. As I mentioned before, he and Barbara do well together. Sydney Greenstreet plays the magazine publisher and he is nicely cast, if a little jollier then usual.

And that brings me to Cuddles Sakall, who is likely my favorite character actor ever. I love him in everything I see him in! He is always adorable and funny in that blubbering way of his, and he is a total scene stealer in this film. He plays a cook trying to master the English language and boy, is he a riot. He confuses several English phrases, for example, in one of my all time favorite screwball lines: "Hunky dunky," instead of "hunky dory." So now of course I say "hunky dunky" all the time.

Overall, I really adore this film. I love it for it's a hilarious holiday film. Holiday movies in general tend to be sappy, mushy, sweet, etc. and though there is certainly nothing wrong with those mentioned adjectives, especially for holiday films, it's nice to get a little change into your holiday lineup once in a while, which makes "Christmas in Connecticut" totally perfect.

This is also a real underrated film, one that perhaps slips under many people's radars, so I strongly encourage you to give it a watch this holiday season. It has a little bit of a slow start, but afterwards you're in for a treat. The main and supporting actors are excellent, the dialogue is witty and crackles with romantic intrigue, and overall it's a very satisfying, feel good comedy - a lovely combination of screwball meets romance meets holiday flick.

The bottom line:
This is a refreshing holiday film because it stands out from the sappier movies that are so common this time of the year. It might not actually be the most "Christmasy" film, but I still strongly suggest you give it a watch. You won't regret it; this isn't one to skip. So the bottom line is watch it!

Some photos:

Some trivia:
  • The Connecticut home in this is the same set used for my favorite screwball comedy, "Bringing up Baby." (Now I totally want to live in this house).
  • Elizabeth Lane was loosely based on a Family Circle magazine columnist by the name of Gladys Taber; however, while the film Elizabeth Lane was, to put it bluntly, a fraud (I mean that in the sweetest way), the real life Gladys Taber was the Martha Stewart of the 40's, and lived on an actual farm.
A movie tidbit:
Forget "a tidbit," I couldn't find any on Youtube besides the trailer - I instead, however, found the whole movie, and I'd rather post that. ;) 


That's the first Sunday in my little Christmas blogathon. I'm really into the holiday spirit - we put up the tree yesterday, and I'm all aglow. I can't believe it's really Christmastime again! (Yes, I do get like a little girl when it comes to Christmas).

Before I go, a few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and make a Tumblr. There is a large Classic Hollywood Tumblr community, lovely sites with real beautiful photos and GIFs - and even though I'm really more of a words person than a photo person, I thought I'd give it a try. Since I'm so devoted to this blog which has the vast topic of all Classic Hollywood, I thought I'd be a lot more narrow with my Tumblr and make it solely about Lucy; a total tribute to her. If you'd like to visit it, go here, and feel free to follow me because I'm pretty sure I have like zilch followers.

I don't think I'm quite cut out for Tumblr, though! I'm terrible at making GIFs and the design of it confuzzles me for sure. Now I have so much more respect for people with such pretty, neat, Tumblrs and nicely edited pics and all of that, because all I can do, really, is reblog. ;) So don't fret over losing me to Tumblr anytime soon.

Isn't she the loveliest? Yes, Lucy, I do it all for you, dear!


PS: I do believe this is my 100th post!! ;D I wish I could have cooked up a more exciting way to celebrate instead of a little "PS" note, but oh well. I've nearly reached 50 followers, and when I get one more follower I think I have something in mind to help me celebrate both milestones! 


Meredith said...

Great review! Christmas In Connecticut is one of my favorite films.

StanwyckFan said...

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't think anyone understands how much I ADORE this movie, I mean, really, really ADORE it. And I tend to get all teary-eyed and giddy when I think about it (no joke). Anyway, I loved your review of it! Although I DO consider it a screwball - that's my only disagreement with you. :)

I followed your tumblr last night. :) And congrats on all your posts and followers!!

chipmunb7gh said...

Happy 100th post! I loved the Lucy and Van Johnson dance routine to "How About You"! How lovely! I'll have to watch "Christmas in Connecticut" sometime! :)

Rianna said...

Meredith: Thanks! Yeah, this is a real fun holiday flick.

Natalie: Haha, I think every classic movie lover has a few movies they're really sentimentally passionate about :D Thanks! Yes, I thought it was a screwball too. But then I go on Netflix to get the summary, and I realized it's not filed under screwball comedies at all, so I thought, "Oh, maybe I'm the only one who thinks of it aso one.. never mind." I guess not! ;) Thanks for following me on Tumblr, I think its beginning to grow on me a little, though I do like Blogging best. :)

chipmunb7gh: Thanks! Lucy and Van's dance routine is one of my favorite I Love Lucy moments. Lucy is so gorgeous in it.

Dani said...

Thanks for the tip. I watched the movie yesterday and loved it. I love Barbara Stanwyck, so it wasn't hard for me to enjoy the movie.

Rianna said...

You're welcome! I'm so happy you watched the movie and liked it. :) Oh, and I left you a comment on Youtube I think, but thanks for the Love with the Proper Stranger link!

Dani said...

No problem. I hope you like the movie. I'm sure you will :-) And I hope the subtitles don't bother you.

Rianna said...

I'm sure I really will! And the subtitles aren't a problem at all, I've watched movies with much worse, obnoxious subtitles. ;)

Sally said...

I love this movie!! I only just discovered it a couple of years ago and it has become a Christmas tradition ever since! (okay so it's a two-year tradition) Great review!!

Rianna said...

Likewise! I discovered this about two years ago, too, and it's been one of my favorite Xmas films ever since. Thanks! :)

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