6 December 2006 | bkoganbing
A Yuletide Man's Favorite Sport
It finally hit me watching my VHS of Christmas in Connecticut what other film this one reminded me of. If it weren't for the fact that the other was done 20 years later, I'd say it was a remake.
Just as Rock Hudson was a phony fishing expert for Abercrombie&Fitch who had to get some on the job training at a fishing tournament, Barbara Stanwyck plays an forties version of Martha Stewart.
Stanwyck's a cooking columnist who's built up this whole image of living on a small Connecticut farm with husband and baby cooking all these marvelous delicacies. Trouble is she's unmarried, childless, writes her column from her apartment in New York and doesn't know how to boil water. But her writing is a hit with the public.
Trouble comes when she's hijacked into cooking a home Christmas dinner for a war hero sailor played by Dennis Morgan who gets to sing a couple of songs as well. Got to keep up the image at any cost. And her publisher Sidney Greenstreet likes the idea so well that he invites himself to the dinner.
So with borrowed farm, baby, and Reginald Gardiner who'd like to make it real with Stanwyck she tries to brazen it through.
Christmas in Connecticut's now a Yuletide classic and deservedly so. The leads are warm and human and they get great support from the assembled players. S.Z. Sakall as the Hungarian restaurant owner/friend of Stanwyck from whom she gets her cooking information and Una O'Connor as the housekeeper have a nice chemistry between them. Reginald Gardiner and Stanwyck have no chemistry at all, obvious to all but Reggie and he's funny in his stuffed shirt way.
Most people remember this film as one of Sidney Greenstreet's few ventures into comedy. If he's not an outright villain, a cynical observer of life or a tyrannical tycoon, Greenstreet is few other things on screen. Christmas in Connecticut gave him a rare opportunity to burlesque his own image and he made the most of it.
In a biography of Barbara Stanwyck, she mentions she enjoyed making Christmas in Connecticut as a welcome change from some villainous parts like Double Indemnity she'd been doing recently. One of the things that made doing the film so enjoyable was that between takes, director Peter Godfrey and Greenstreet would do some impromptu entertaining of cast and crew with English Music Hall numbers. Made for a relaxed and warm set and the cast responded accordingly.
Now if only someone had been filming those numbers.