Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

There’s a lot to enjoy about this old-school romantic comedy, but enough dated bits that I can’t recommend it without reservation.

Discharged soldier (and ‘hero’ for some unspecified reason) Jefferson Jones is recovering in hospital and dreaming about solid food. He flirts with a nurse to get better treatment, but she takes him seriously and proposes they get married. He claims to not have any context for a real home, and she decides to call in a favor to send him to the cozy farm home of matronly author and famous cook, Elizabeth Lane, for Christmas.

Cue the twist that sets up the plot.

Elizabeth Lane is not a woman with a family on a Connecticut farm. She’s a single writer living in a tiny New York apartment. She gets her ‘brilliant’ recipes through an arrangement with a friend, the chef at the restaurant downstairs, because she can’t so much as boil water. She and her manager try to get her out of the host-a-soldier-for-Christmas deal, but her publisher doesn’t know that her articles are fiction and invites himself along for the holiday as well. Add in a persistent suitor who actually does own a farm in Connecticut and the cast of characters is almost complete.

Naturally, they try to pass off her phony life as real. Plus she agrees to marry the suitor, but can’t...quite...ever go through with it. Which is handy once she meets the soldier.

It’s fairly predictable from there, but I found it charming. I enjoyed the reasons Elizabeth is attracted to Jones (his easy friendship and generosity, his skills with infants). I really liked Elizabeth’s attitude and her wit, and the fact that no character the viewers were supposed to agree with saw anything wrong with her pieces being fiction. It’s a light farce, and we laughed quite a bit while watching it.

However, at the beginning and, most unfortunately, at the end, were beats that played more heavily into the sexism of the time. Jones knows before Elizabeth that both of them are free of their respective romantic entanglements, and his taunting of her gets downright unpleasant.

Still, it’s a happy ending, and a nice change of pace for us.

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