For Reel

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
January 16, 2017, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Peter Godfrey
4 Stars
christmas-in-connecticutThis underrated screwball comedy is intelligently cast and subversive enough to work as both a wholesome holiday movie and as an argument about the insincerity of the Christmas season. Barbara Stanwyck plays a Martha Stewart type who is forced by her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) to host a war veteran (Dennis Morgan) at her ideal farm home. The film’s post-war contextualization adds a level of cynicism to the conception of the American home—that is, men in uniform were returning to a dream that never really existed. For Stanwyck to play a con artist makes good on the image she’d often returned to over her last decade in film (in classics like The Miracle Woman and The Lady Eve), that of a sophisticated and ultimately duplicitous rogue. Better yet, Greenstreet carries the weight of his histories as heavies in noirs and lends a imposing authority to his role. He is obnoxious and nosy as a guest, and the tension of each screwball situation often hinges on the fact that there is an implied horror in how Greenstreet might react when he realizes everything has been a rouse. The film overstays its welcome, but the sociopolitical context that it places its games of deception in warrants a discussion—unlike films like Woman of the Year, Christmas in Connecticut doesn’t argue that Stanwyck is incompetent for not being an excellent home-maker, rather the film suggests that the idealized image of a housewife is a media construct to begin with.

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