Well, Vintage HQ fans, it’s officially LESS than two weeks until Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? We’re all starting to dream of our amazing Thanksgiving dinner menus so, to get you ready for the holiday season “vintage style,” it’s time for us to recommend a vintage flick for your upcoming weekend!
We enjoy bringing lesser-known classic movies to our readers’ attention from time to time and we feel that most Vintage HQ fans are well-versed in the more popular Christmas classics (White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, etc.). Therefore, today, we would like to bring to your attention to a wonderful film whose entire focus is on food…Christmas in Connecticut from 1945 starring Barbara Stanwyck.
Christmas in Connecticut is one of those movies that’s a little more subtle with the Christmas theme. This one actually feels more like a romantic comedy that just happens to take place at Christmas. Even more un-Christmas-like (did we just make up that word?), our film today actually opens out on the raging seas. It’s the middle of World War II and we immediately see a torpedo attack on a boat. Then, the film cuts to a well-dressed gentleman on a small raft having an extravagant meal with a waiter tending to his every need. We quickly realize, however, that this gentleman is, in fact, only dreaming. He’s actually a survivor of the torpedo attack that happened a couple of weeks prior and has been adrift on a raft with a shipmate, starving. As the two men continue to wait for someone to rescue them he tells his friend that, if he ever gets off the raft, his first meal will be steak, a baked potato, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, chocolate cake and ice cream…ok, now this is a strange start to a movie…
Next our film brings us to a hospital and our war hero is, instead of having his dream meal, stuck eating mushy, hospital food. He’s having to wait for his doctors to determine when he can have solid food again as he’s gone so long without it. In the midst of his frustration and waiting he starts to read a magazine featuring an article from “America’s Best Cook,” Elizabeth Lane. She discusses her amazing “Menu of the Month” for December which, of course, includes decadent items for the Christmas season such as roast goose, walnut dressing, giblet gravy and cranberry. He can’t take it anymore so he asks his shipmate how to get some solid food! His friend tells him that, maybe if he sweet talks the nurse, surely she’ll get him some solid food. He sweet talks her, alright, but he doesn’t get anywhere with her until he has her convinced that he’s absolutely in love with her and wants to marry her! FINALLY he gets his solid food and it is DIVINE! Unfortunately, the price to pay is now having a very nice woman with COMPLETELY the wrong idea nearby! As he tries to convince her NOT to marry him she has her mind made up that if he ever knew what a real home full of warmth and love was like and what it would be to experience being around someone who would help take care of him he would hesitate less about the concept of marriage. Since she’s a nurse and doesn’t have that ideal home environment yet she decides to take it upon herself to write to the head of “Smart Housekeeping Magazine,” Mr. Yardley (whom she has met before), to ask if they could arrange it where this war hero could be a guest of none other than Elizabeth Lane’s for Christmas on her lovely farm in Connecticut.
Mr. Yardley is a man whose main concern in life seems to be how many publications are being sold so when he gets a letter from an old acquaintace with a “tug-at-your-heartstrings” kind of request he jumps on it because he believes it would be a great angle for a story…his most popular writer entertaining a war hero at Christmas. Perfect. He calls her editor to set it up but doesn’t notice the editor’s hesitation (well, panic). Mr. Yardley always gets his way, though, so somehow this editor is going to have to break the news to Elizabeth…
We then meet perfect housewife, excellent mother, impressive cook and brilliant writer Elizabeth Lane. As she types away at her typewriter describing her wonderful view at her lovely farm we start to realize that she’s actually none of those things except a brilliant, resourceful writer with great imagination! She actually lives alone in a tiny, cramped apartment in New York and she’s absolutely clueless about the food she writes so eloquently about! Her Uncle Felix owns a restaurant nearby and we discover that he’s actually the one who has been feeding her recipes and menus for her popular column! When her editor shows up to break the news about her assignment they decide that the only way out of this is to lie. She’ll have to tell Mr. Yardley that her baby is sick and that there’s no way she could entertain a soldier at her Connecticut farm for Christmas.
Elizabeth does meet with Mr. Yardley and tries to get out of her assignment but he is, of course, too persuasive. There’s no telling him “no” and, by the time she leaves his office, somehow he’s even invited himself to the Christmas festivities! She knows there’s no way she could pull something like this off so she’s certain her career is over and, with nothing left, she agrees to marry a man she doesn’t love. After her quick decision her editor realizes something and points it out to Elizabeth…her new fiance has a farm in Connecticut and, if she can seal the deal quickly, she’ll have a husband and a Connecticut farm! She’s halfway there to salvaging her career! All that’s left to do is to coax Uncle Felix to, somehow, do the cooking but make it look like she is and to, of course, borrow a baby! Then she’ll be set to host Christmas! Nothing could go wrong, right? Needless to say, hilarious complications ensue…including Elizabeth not taking into account that our war hero coming for Christmas just might be the man of her dreams!
We here at Vintage HQ highly recommend Christmas in Connecticut! We hope you enjoy it!