Our field trip to visit the Christmas classics (according to us, at least) is nearly at its end, but we have one final stop: 1945’s Christmas in Connecticut. It’s a holly jolly farmhouse Christmas with America’s Best Cook, Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) and her family … except for a few hitches. Elizabeth is actually a single city girl who cannot cook a thing. Rather, she’s forced to put on the ruse to protect her job and her editor’s job from a publisher who is a stickler for the truth, and who has it in his mind that he and a war hero should spend Christmas in Connecticut with the alluring Elizabeth Lane.
As is tradition, kick us off, AM. Why did I make you watch this movie? How much do you want to spend Christmas there? How much do you want an Uncle Felix of your own? Are you flirting with me, Jefferson Jones?
A: I’ve said this before about the 1940-50s era films we’ve watched thus far, and this follows in the same mold: You adore a strong female lead, the winter black & white film backdrop, rat-tat-tat dialogue, a wisecracking older sidekick and of course, a dreamy male lead. Christmas in Connecticut fulfills all of those requirements and it takes place at Christmas (obviously). We both have such a soft spot for holiday films.
Felix is literally the best. I adore him and his love for Elizabeth, but her publisher is the literal worst. Blowhard, won’t listen, talks over people and while he says he’s a stickler for the truth, he’s actually a sucker for getting readers and keeping them. He only decides to halfheartedly re-hire Elizabeth because he’s convinced subscriptions will drop if he lets her go. The greatest moment for me was when she tells him off finally, but she has to actually shout over him to be heard.
Brooke, how close was I? Would you rather have Felix as your uncle or Pirovitch from Shop Around the Corner? How much did you want to sample the foods from Elizabeth’s column? And how dreamy on a scale of 1 to 10 was Jefferson Jones?
B: Extremely close. I’d say the only element missing is my great love for Barbara Stanwyck. I particularly love her in this movie because I met her as a femme fatale, but she gets to show off some real comedic chops in this story. It was such a delight to discover that.
Pirovitch is a sweet chap, but I’m 200% on the side of wanting Felix as my uncle. He has so many catchphrases and would mischievously interfere if I was ever about to marry the wrong guy. Speaking of, what’s your take on John Sloane? He’s written as quite a pleasant chap, but I always see him as a rather haunting figure. You know he’s so keen on getting the marriage business over with so he can commence with consummating the marriage. And that completely skeeves me out. Still, perhaps we are meant to assume that his assurances that he could wait for Elizabeth to care for him means he could also wait to introduce a physical element to their relationship? I suppose it’s nice he’s so up-front with his feels, but he’s also clearly not above pressing his advantage.
I would definitely be happy to sample most of Elizabeth’s menus, assuming Felix is doing the actual cooking. Some of the stuff sounds a bit iffy, like the stuff with giblets, but sign me up for the rest. I absolutely adore Felix’s assertion that Elizabeth should never cook because doing so will take the joy and humor from her writing about cooking. That shall now be my perpetual excuse for not learning to make things I love.
That Jefferson Jones has to be like a 7.5 on the dreamy scale. I don’t get the attraction at all when he’s being a food motivated weirdo in the hospital, but once he shows up and starts looking at Elizabeth like the answer to all of life problems, I am fully on board.
Tell me AM, do you find this movie as funny as I do? As you heard, there are some one-liners that bust me up every single time I watch. Also, what do you think of the flirting/courting tactics on display here? Is this still the way to catch a handsome fella?
A: I did find it very funny! Elizabeth and Felix have some great lines and comebacks, and I love how snappy she is, especially later when everything is falling apart. I am fully on board with Felix stopping the marriage between her and John. I also find it the height of creepiness that he was totally cool with the fact that she didn’t love him. Bro, that’s not a good sign. I don’t think that he would have waited to consummate, not at all. He cajoled her when she was in a weak spot (facing down the barrel of unemployment) and took advantage of the situation.
I did think it was funny that it wasn’t until the dinner scene at Restaurant Felix (I want his basket with his name on it!) that anyone thought to mention that John himself had a quaint Connecticut farm that could be used as a backdrop to the facade. Maybe it wasn’t important because they were trying to keep it from happening, and Elizabeth wasn’t the mistress, but still, would have perhaps come in handy from the start.
I have to say, I was all on board with Mr. Jones as the dapperest man who ever lived until he finds out that she’s been lying to him about her marital status, and then he decides it’s ok to throw himself at her, get just slightly rape-y and it’s only when she finds out he’s not engaged and they’re both free that she’s going to kiss him back. Dude, no means no, I don’t care how much of a war hero you are. I also found his attempts to get food a little odd, but I haven’t been on a lifeboat for 18 days so I can’t say that I wouldn’t seduce a nurse to get steak too.
Would you say that Barbara is your favorite femme fatale? I am looking forward to many more films with her in it based on your assertion. I have to say that the Christmas dinner described in Shop Around the Corner sounded more amazing than anything Elizabeth wrote about, but I would eat whatever Felix gave me, absolutely.
B: I would not only say that Barbara is the prototypical femme fatale, I would say she’s quite possibly my favorite classic era actress. You do recall that you’ve already seen her in action, yes? Double Indemnity wasn’t so long ago. Or was she so different in this movie that you didn’t even recognize her?! I hope that’s true because it would be amazing if so. I think I love her in this role as much as I do, in part, because I could see myself in this situation, but I’ve never fancied myself quite enough of a badass to get my femme fatale on.
We’ve covered this movie pretty thoroughly already, but I have a few key questions for you before we go. Can you flip flapjacks like Felix and Elizabeth? Would you rather have this farm or Iris’ cottage from The Holiday? Why do people in the movies wait so long to trim their trees?
A: Oh I do remember Barbara from Double Indemnity, but I do look forward to seeing more of her in more noir once the holiday Required Viewing kick has passed. I would love to craft and execute a comeback like hers in this film as well as in Double Indemnity, but I don’t know that my wit is quick enough. Something to aspire to!
I cannot flip flapjacks really at all, and that’s why I bought a waffle iron long ago. Waffles are superior to pancakes for my tastes, and there’s no flipping required. I am simply quite baffled by the fact that many movies don’t have trees trimmed until Christmas Eve! It makes perfect sense in Home Alone, since no one was supposed to be home for Christmas anyway, but in films where everyone is around? No clue. I decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving and usually keep everything up until New Year’s, because I love my decorations and I want to spend the month looking at them. Maybe it’s a dramatic film thing, or maybe that was just how it used to be before the commercial industrial complex that we call modern society made it ok to celebrate Christmas from mid-August until last man standing.
And finally, I can’t imagine a better place to celebrate Christmas than Iris’ adorable cottage in The Holiday. I would 100% need Amanda’s sweaters to do so, but cozying up in a quaint house in the English countryside sounds like something that absolutely I must do some year for the holidays. I know Brooke agrees with me, so I don’t even have to ask!
With that, our holiday viewings are over. Don’t fret. We’ll be back in 2017 with more The Hills, more noir and more than likely a Winona Ryder and Madonna flick or 5. Happy Holidays from We Write Things to you!