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Warner Home Video presents
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

"Every time I opened my mouth, he talked. I felt like Charlie McCarthy."
- Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck)

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: November 30, 2005

Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet
Other Stars: Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall, Una O'Connor, Joyce Compton, Frank Jenks, Robert Shayne
Director: Peter Godfrey

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:41m:16s
Release Date: November 08, 2005
UPC: 012569677166
Genre: holiday

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BB+B B-

DVD Review

Forget Martha Stewart. Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is the original domestic diva. Each month, in the pages of Smart Housekeeping magazine, she extols the virtues of hearth and home, captivating readers with an array of mouth-watering recipes and decorating tips, while chronicling in copious detail how her husband, baby, and tranquil Connecticut farm enrich her perfect life. Yet what Elizabeth's adoring admirers—and her gruff, demanding publisher, Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet)—don't know is that her idyllic housewife image is a total and complete fabrication. In reality, she's single, lives in a tiny Manhattan apartment, and can't even fry an egg. She filches her recipes from a neighboring restaurant chef (S.Z. Sakall), and politely rebuffs the attentions of a stubborn suitor (Reginald Gardiner) who regularly proposes to her.

For years, Elizabeth has deftly perpetuated her deception, but the jig could be up when a lovesick nurse (Joyce Compton) writes to Yardley about a convalescing GI (Dennis Morgan) who's alone for the holidays, and just happens to be one of Elizabeth's biggest fans. The rotund publisher smells a circulation bonanza, and demands Elizabeth invite the soldier to her farm for an old-fashioned New England Christmas—roast goose and all. Panic-stricken over the possibility of exposure, Elizabeth tries to wriggle out of the assignment, but Yardley won't hear of it. (He even wrangles himself an invitation for the festivities.) So, to keep her masquerade alive (and her much-need paycheck coming), Elizabeth must quickly manufacture a husband, baby, and country estate—oh, and learn how to cook, too!

Such is the premise of Christmas in Connecticut, a delightfully daffy comedy that celebrates the season without the mawkishly sentimental trimmings that weigh down most holiday movies. Much like Woman of the Year, it pokes fun at a tough career woman trying to play house, but with far less incisive humor. Nevertheless, director Peter Godfrey guides a sterling cast with a light touch, and the Lionel Houser-Adele Comandini script supplies several laugh-out-loud lines, all delivered with customary aplomb by Stanwyck and her cohorts.

Although best known for portraying icy noir heroines and tough-talking Western dames, Stanwyck also possessed a flair for comedy, and though Christmas in Connecticut pales when compared to such Stanwyck classics as Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve, it offers the actress several opportunities to clown around. Her funniest scenes involve the borrowed baby for whom the hopelessly inept Elizabeth must care. Watching Stanwyck nonchalantly toss a dirty diaper on the floor, and respond to the infant's piercing cry with the impeccably delivered line, "It must be time for…something!," remind us how versatile she could be, and how she relished kicking up her heels now and then.

Stanwyck also creates excellent chemistry with Morgan, whose relaxed acting style belies the depth of his talent. Often saddled with bland romantic roles in women's pictures or playing straight man to Jack Carson, Morgan never really got a chance to shine on his own, but his upbeat personality and Irish grin brighten many films of the '40s. Greenstreet, in a rare comedic turn, seems to enjoy sparring with Stanwyck, but it's loveable S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall who nearly steals the film with his shameless yet always adorable mugging. In his chef's hat and apron, the roly-poly Hungarian actor is a dead ringer for the Pillsbury Doughboy, and his thick accent renders many of his lines unintelligible, but he's such a charming and endearing presence, who cares?

Christmas in Connecticut will never reach the rarefied level of such holiday classics as Alastair Sim's A Christmas Carol or It's A Wonderful Life, but it's a festive, enormously entertaining romp that deserves to be in every family's holiday viewing rotation.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Most of the time, the full-frame transfer looks spiffy and slick, as sharp lines and terrific gray level variance lend the black-and-white image a vibrant sheen. A few patches sport a grainy, slightly murky look, but close-ups are lush, and very few nicks or scratches sully the print. Stanwyck fans will be especially pleased with this above par effort.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: For a 60-year-old film, the mono track is surprisingly smooth and rich. Pops and crackles are conspicuously absent, and Frederick Hollander's music score enjoys fine dynamic range. Dialogue is always easy to comprehend (except when spoken by Sakall), and Morgan's dulcet crooning sounds warm and natural.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 47m:58s

Extra Extras:
  1. Vintage short, Star in the Night
Extras Review: Other than the original—and rather goofy—theatrical trailer, the only supplement is the Oscar-winning short, Star in the Night, an exceptional modern day telling of the birth of Christ…with a little Dickens thrown in for good measure. J. Carrol Naish leads a marvelous ensemble cast as Nick Catapoli, a Scrooge-ish desert innkeeper in the American Southwest, who puts up a huge neon star on Christmas Eve to attract more business. The gimmick works—he fills his motel to capacity—but his grouchy guests drive him to distraction, forcing Nick to adopt a harsh, defensive edge. Enter a hitchhiker (Donald Woods) in need of sustenance, and, shortly after, a Hispanic couple named José and Maria (Tony Caruso and Lynn Baggett), who beg for shelter. Nick reluctantly sends the couple out to the barn, and…well, you can guess the rest. Aside from fine acting and clever storytelling, the 21-minute short marks the debut of director Don Siegel (Dirty Harry), who at once draws us into the action and lends Star in the Night the classy feel of a feature film. This is a real gem of a movie, and should by no means be overlooked.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Light, frothy, and spiced with seasonal cheer, Christmas in Connecticut will please residents of any state, and add warmth and merriment to every family's holiday. Stanwyck's breezy performance and Warner's solid transfer ensure this jolly romantic comedy a hearty recommendation.


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