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'Christmas in Connecticut'Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008, at 8:45 AM
A week or two ago, when I was putting together a poll about favorite characters from Christmas stories, I realized that everyone I had listed to that point was male. I figured I needed at least one woman on the list, so I plugged in Barbara Stanwyck's character from "Christmas In Connecticut" (1945), one of my favorite holiday movies, even though she doesn't have the same household-name factor as the others on the list.
"Christmas In Connecticut" ran on TCM over the weekend; I'm guessing it will be on again some time between now and the end of the holidays, and it's well worth your time if you've never seen it. It's one of my holiday favorites -- hilarious and romantic.
Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a Martha Stewart-like columnist for a Good Housekeeping-like magazine. She writes magnificent prose about her lovely Connecticut farm and the delicious meals she prepares for her adoring husband, even while caring for their new baby.
It's all a sham. She's single, lives in a Manhattan apartment, and can't even boil water. The recipes that won her the reputation as America's best cook come from a restauranteur friend (played by the wonderful character actor S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall).
Lane's editor knows the truth, but her overbearing publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) does not. When the publisher learns about a recuperating war hero (Dennis Morgan) with no place to spend the holidays, he thinks it would be great -- not only a patriotic gesture but good PR -- for Elizabeth Lane and her husband to host the man at their lovely Connecticut farm. And, naturally, he wants to stop by himself for one of Lane's famous holiday meals.
So, afraid that she'll be fired, Lane and her friends conspire to come up with a fake farm, a fake husband and a fake baby -- and, naturally, all of this gets in the way when Lane finds herself attracted to the war hero.
This would make a great double feature with "While You Were Sleeping," from half a century later, which also has a holiday setting and which has a very similar theme of the heroine getting into a big lie and then having to get back out of it again.
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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