Blog Directory CineVerse: There's no place like Connecticut for the holidays

There's no place like Connecticut for the holidays

Thursday, December 15, 2016

In the pantheon of treasured Yuletide cinema, "Christmas in Connecticut" is often relegated as the runt stocking off in the corner that's among the last to be filled by Santa--and among the last discs to be dusted off the shelf and rewatched by viewers during the holiday season. But it's got a late World War II period charm and classic Hollwyood assembly line sheen that can compete with the visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, if you let it. After a group unwrapping, here are our major CineVerse conclusions about this picture:

It serves as more of a screwball comedy set at Christmastime than a holiday or Christmas film. Christmas is kind of incidental to the plot; it’s the MacGuffin that functions as a trigger for the plot, but it’s relatively unimportant.
It is imbued with many of the characteristic traits of the screwball comedy so popular in the 1930s and early to mid-1940s, including slapstick, a comical charade that involves playacting, fast-paced dialogue, social classes clashing, and a story that involves marriage and/or a suddenly complicated love triangle.
Considering that, at this time in America, when socioeconomics dictated that women typically stayed at home and dutifully served as cooks and housekeepers, this film is surprisingly sympathetic to the plight of the average American women: it depicts how difficult keeping up these appearances and performing to a woman’s expected duty is for Elizabeth. This functions as the source of comedy here, but the movie is also, subtextually perhaps, making a semi-feminist statement for 1945.
“Christmas in Connecticut” is also firmly anchored in its time period as a wartime film: we see Jefferson escaping a Naval battle and know what he’s endured and wished for, and the patriotic feelings of wartime viewers seeing this film in 1945 would have made it popular and relevant.
Interestingly, we see two stalwart character actors—Sydney Greenstreet and S.Z. Sakall, who both appeared in “Casablanca”—appearing here not in a drama but a comedy; considering that Warner Brothers was not a studio known for its comedies, this is something of a rarity.
Against some expectations, it’s not a very deep film in terms of themes, emotional resonance, memorable plot, or celebrated performances. It has an emotional effect, certainly, but for a sentimental Christmastime favorite, it doesn’t stir the soul perhaps like It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, or Miracle on 34th Street does. It’s light and frothy escapist entertainment for the season.

Screwball comedies like “It Happened One Night,” “The Lady Eve,” “Ball of Fire,” “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek” and others.
“Holiday Affair,” another Christmastime film that also depicts a woman torn between two men: one she’s engaged or steady with, another who suddenly enters her life.
“The Man Who Came to Dinner,” another Yuletide picture wherein a family is forced to house and entertain a fat man who imposes himself upon them.
“Remember the Night,” another film set at Christmastime starring Barbara Stanwyck
“Coming home from WWII” movies like “The Best Years of Our Lives”

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