Plot: Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is a popular columnist in a lifestyle magazine, as shares her personal stories about being a wife, mother, and ambitious woman, much to the delight of her readers. Her recipes are exquisite, her domestic tips are helpful, and she describes life in the rural countryside with such skilled prose, you can see her world in vivid detail. This kind of warm home life is what a nurse thinks will convince one of her patients to marry her, after all, if he can experience that kind of domestic bliss, he will want to settle down. So she writes the magazine and the publisher is keen to bring the patient, a military hero, to Lane’s rural farm for Christmas, but there’s a slight issue with that prospect. Lane lives in Manhattan, has no husband, no children, and she can’t cook to save her life. But faced with losing her livelihood, she tries to weave one last web of deception, as if the truth about her lifestyle is discovered, she and those close to her will be hot water.
Entertainment Value: This holiday classic is often overlooked in the crowded Christmas movie genre, but it deserves a place next to the titans in the field, as it is a warm, often brilliant comedy that rarely slows down and never fails to entertain. The premise is simple enough at first blush, but quickly snowballs into a plate spinning chaos, with all these parts in motion and one little slip could derail the entire operation, but the movie handles all those plates with immense skill. The tone is zany, even screwball at times, but manages to nail the emotional beats, which had to be a tough balance to keep up, with all the threads involved. I love the fragile, complicated nature of the premise and the clever, but ridiculous lengths the characters go to in order to maintain the ruse, while new threads are woven in on a regular basis. The momentum builds nicely once the cast arrives in the countryside, spiraling out of control and always on the brink of a total unravel. Above all else, this is just a warm, hilarious movie that has a steady flow of effective humor and colorful characters. I loved how the movie could go from outlandish verbal banter to awkward situations to brisk romance, never missing a beat as it wove through these elements with ease.
The writing in Christmas in Connecticut is a great example of humor that is wild and sometimes over the top, but also very intelligent. A lot of the humor in the movie is fueled by the characters, so the jokes and humorous situations have more weight, it isn’t often just one off lines or random jokes. This really elevates the material and helps it land stronger, as well as just be a richer comedic experience. The character driven humor is bolstered by a gifted cast that embraces the material and has some terrific chemistry as an ensemble. The individual performances are wonderful, but it is when they’re able to play off each other that the material really shines, with these various colorful folks interacting in different configurations, it is just a lot of fun to watch it all unfold. Barbara Stanwyck is brilliant in the lead role, as she shines with charm and charisma, as well as remarkable comic presence. Her scenes with Dennis Morgan are so much fun to watch, as the two have palpable chemistry, which fuels both the humor the romantic tension. The supporting cast is also skilled and steals scenes quite often, so there’s no weak link in this chain. I think this is a wonderful, warm, and hilarious holiday picture, a real pleasure to watch.