Christmas in Connecticut is Ridiculous and I Love It.
On Sunday night, we watched the holiday classic Christmas in Connecticut for the zillionth time, and one of things I love most about it is that there are so many plot holes and it is completely ridiculous and contrived and I love it anyway.
It’s the contrived tale of Jefferson Jones, a World War II soldier who’s rescued from a life raft and winds up in a hospital with a southern belle nurse named Mary Lee, who he convinces he loves so he can get high-quality hospital food. They get engaged, and when Mary Lee sees Jefferson hedging on the commitment, she contacts magazine publisher Alexander Yardley, whose granddaughter she nursed back to health, and asks if he can arrange for Smart Housekeeping food writer Elizabeth Lane to host the soldier at her Connecticut farm.
Lane, however, who writes her column for Smart Housekeeping and shares tales of her husband, child and farm in Connecticut, actually is a single woman who lives in a New York City apartment unbeknownst to Alexander Yardley. In order to pretend the farm, the husband and the daughter are real, she agrees to marry a besotted admirer who really owns a Connecticut farm. Elizabeth, however, falls in love with Jefferson the soldier.
I love this movie. But trying to recap the story like I did above is an almost impossible chore. Somehow, someway, the movie manages to be charming and delightful, thanks to Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardner, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall and, of course, the peerless Una O’Connor. There are so many gaping plot holes and leaps in logic in the film it defies explanation.
One of my favorites is Alexander Yardley attempting to convince Elizabeth’s fake husband John that he and Elizabeth need to have another baby before a writer at a competing magazine has HER baby, because the competing magazine’s circulation would rise because the writer would write all about the baby.
As Yardley explains it on Christmas Day, the competing magazine writer’s baby is due in September. And John and Elizabeth need to have THEIR baby before September.
As we realized last night, there’s no way on Christmas Day that someone could know they have a baby due in September. I always made fun of the fact that Yardley was putting pressure on someone to have a baby somehow before someone else who already knew they were having a baby, a request completely absurd unless you could arrange to have a baby in eight months.
Add this to the fact that people fall in love and get married at astonishing speed in this film. In the manner of two days, for example, Mary Lee the nurse breaks off her engagement with Jefferson Jones and gets engaged AND married to another soldier instead, all on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
I can’t objectively analyze this movie, because it all falls apart immediately. But we watch it every holiday season without fail. There are so many wonderful lines and moments between all these actors. One of my favorites is just a tiny moment, when Elizabeth asks her editor Dudley if he wants a drink, and he says “No” even as he’s pouring one. It’s a tossed-off line, but all are delivered beautifully somehow. It’s a head-shaking movie.
I think it was Jonathan Rosenbaum who once expressed that he couldn’t write a review of The Wizard of Oz because it was too tied up in his childhood. I think that applies to Christmas in Connecticut for me. I don’t remember loving it when I was a child, but I do remember the house in the film was my Mom’s favorite movie house and she never failed to express that every year when she watched this movie. It is, by the way, an awesome house, with the most epic fireplace this side of Xanadu.