Christmas in Connecticut

Bomb Rating: 

I liked this movie so much that when I sat down to write this review, Icouldn't remember the title. Which is fitting since it falls under thecategory of "Christmas Classics No One Has Ever Heard Of." Not only that, this delightful Xmas flick failed to answer the question haunting Hollywood since the heyday of the silver screen: Was Barbara Stanwyck a man? When viewing the marginal acting skills of a Hollywood ingenue, you should get that familiar, private rush of pleasure, not wonder if you are getting a chubby over a lovely transvestite. The other question unanswered is: Did the producers really think that nothing says Christmas magic like Sydney Greenstreet, the Fat Man from Casablanca? Admittedly, Greenstreet had the physique of Santa, but does having the general appearance of a satanic Yorkshire sow really make an actor appropriate for a Christmas special?

The story revolves around an unmarried, urban-dwelling, androgynous lifestyle magazine writer (Barbara Stanwyck) pretending to be the perfect status-obsessed upper class yuppie-woman, complete with home and gentrified farm in Connecticut. In other words, this film prophesied, 40 years early, the rise of Martha Stewart, except that, all things considered, Stanwyck was somewhat more feminine.

The plot gets rolling when a military nurse-bimbo falls in love with an injured sailor (Dennis Morgan), but can't persuade him that marriage is right for him. She gets the brilliant idea that if she contacts the publisher of the lifestyle porn mag that Stanwyck writes for (Sydney Greenstreet), he'll love the idea of her hunk-o-manly-man spending Christmas with Stanwyck and her non-existent husband on their non-existent Connecticut farm frolicking with her non-existent kids. The objective of her scheme is that seeing such family bliss will convince Popeye that the married life is for him. Of course, the flint-hearted publisher--who doesn't know that Stanwyck is actually the Whore of Babylon, not a member of the county set--thinks this would make a boffo story. And wouldn't you know it? A successful New York architect, who just happens to own a country property that is the Connecticut equivalent of the Bush Compound at Kennebunkport, is hopelessly in love with Stanwyck, and is more than willing to marry her on a moment's notice and let her use his country estate to complete the ruse. The rich, successful, highly educated East Coast architect is, of course, portrayed as a loathsome fop (read "homosexual"), something akin to Paul Lynde's grandfather. The sailor, however, is basically a caricature of every Frank Capra hero rolled into one. There's no doubt where this movie's sympathies lie. Hoping to avoid getting fired for deceiving her boss, Stanwyck proceeds with the plan, and to add to the zaniness, Greenstreet decides to join them for Christmas, too.

The rest is classic sitcom, and so predictable I was practically speaking the dialogue aloud before I'd even heard it. Still, if you really want to suffer, forget the original and find the 1992 remake in the $1.00 bin at the Goodwill, directed by none other than California Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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