There's something magical about watching all of the campy holiday films at Christmas time. The happy endings, snow, the holiday cheer; it's the perfect way to spend the month of December all cozy inside before we start a new year. There are so many classics but Christmas In Connecticut has been a long-time favorite. Released in 1945, it's romantic comedy image of post-war America still resonates with people today and is a film that should be on everyone's holiday watch list.
The incomparable Barbara Stanwyck stars in the film as Elizabeth Lane, a single woman working as a food writer in New York City. Though most remember the film for its connection to Christmas and its incredible farmhouse (more on that later), it's important to note that this was an early portrayal of a working woman in the 40s which was definitely not the norm. And a New Yorker no less! Elizabeth Lane was a boss lady who didn't need a man and made things happen for herself. Though she definitely pretended to have one in her writing. And a Connecticut farm. And children. Her recipes (many of which come from her Uncle Felix Bassenak played by S.Z. Sakall) get so popular with housewives across America she gets asked to host a dinner for a war hero at her fictional Connecticut home. Oops. Since her publisher Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) doesn't know that she's a fake, she needs what everyone in a good Christmas movie needs...a Christmas miracle to make it through.
Elizabeth quickly tries to save her career by moving out to her friend John Sloan's (Reginald Gardiner) incredible Connecticut home and even uses the neighbor's children as props so that war hero and major fan Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) is convinced of her story when he comes to Christmas dinner. There's only one problem...love at first sight for Jefferson and Elizabeth! The film has everything you could possibly want at the holidays -- lots of laughs involving the charade and an incident with a neighbor's horse and sleigh, romance, and picturesque snowy scenes that just look like Christmas. Robert Shayne, Una O'Connor, Frank Jenks, Joyce Compton, and Dick Elliott co-star making this a memorable cast that has made the movie a classic over the years.
What's interesting is the Peter Godfrey directed film was shot on the complete opposite side of the country from its setting. The entire movie was filmed on a soundstage in Los Angeles meaning that the picturesque farmhouse (which you don't actually get a full view of) sadly isn't real. The fake snow lining the outside of all of the windows definitely looks too perfect but adds to the movie's history and charm since so many films at the time were entirely captured on sound stages. In case you're wondering how a holiday movie this classic never got remade...it did.
In one of the most bizarre remakes of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger directed a TV film adaptation starring Kris Kristofferson, Dyan Cannon, and Tony Curtis. What a cast. Most likely in an effort to appeal to the early 90s, the TNT film changed the story to make Elizabeth a star of a cooking show who is tasked with cooking dinner for a forest ranger who lost his home in a fire. There's really nothing like the original so that's probably why it didn't do well, but hey. They tried. Really most of the allure of the original really was the incredible house and story centered around the farm life which is why we still love watching the 1940s film year after year.