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Christmas in Connecticut is a 1945 romantic comedy film directed by Peter Godfrey and starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) is a sailor who survived 18 days on a life raft after his destroyer was sunk by a German U-boat. Through plot contrivances, he gets an invitation from magazine publisher Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) to spend Christmas at the home of Yardley's most famous writer, Elizabeth Lane (Stanwyck). Lane is sort of a Martha Stewart for The '40s, writing a column about her life on her bucolic Connecticut farm, tending to her husband and baby, cooking, sewing, knitting sweaters, and basking in all the other joys of happy homemaking.

The only problem is that Lane's image is a giant hoax. She lives in a Manhattan apartment, she has neither husband nor baby, and she can't cook—all of her recipes come from her good friend and professional chef Felix (S.Z. Sakall), a Hungarian refugee. She is panic-stricken at the news that Jones and Yardley are coming to stay at her nonexistent home and meet her nonexistent family, but fortunately her good friend and romantic suitor John Sloan (Reginald Gardiner) does have a farm in Connecticut. They elect to have a quickie wedding and borrow a neighbor's baby, but Jones and Yardley arrive before the wedding is performed. Hilarity Ensues.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, of all people, directed a TV Movie remake that starred Dyan Cannon, Kris Kristofferson, and Tony Curtis. It aired on TNT in 1992.


Tropes:

  • Action Prologue: The first scene is Jefferson's ship being torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat.
  • Ambiguously Gay / The Beard: John has a fussy, uptight manner that was code for "gay" in Hollywood films of The '40s. He doesn't care that Elizabeth doesn't love him and isn't very upset when she eventually calls off their engagement. The action subtly implies that she's really The Beard and he's marrying her for appearances.
    Elizabeth: Yardley’s sending me a sailor for Christmas!
    John: A sailor? How nice!
  • The Bore: John, who will not stop droning on about architecture and home construction and how to make fireplaces and such. Yardley even calls him a bore.
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  • British Stuffiness: John, who has the plummy RP accent of Reginald Gardiner, and says things like "I say!" when catching his fiancee in the arms of another man.
  • City Mouse: Elizabeth doesn't really like the country, and she's intimidated when she's confronted with one of the cows on John's farm.
  • Dances and Balls: All the gang goes to a Christmas dance that is also a fundraiser for war bonds, and Elizabeth and Jefferson share a Dance of Romance.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Jefferson's nurse. He pretended to be in love with her for better hospital food, and she got him a visit to the farm to show him how nice it'd be to actually get married. Then she falls for his shipmate (incidentally the guy who suggested the flirt-for-food tactic) and gets engaged to him instead.
  • Driving a Desk: When Elizabeth and Jefferson take a carriage ride through the snow.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: John has apparently been after Elizabeth to marry him for some time, even though she tells him she doesn't love him. At the start of the film he says she's run out of excuses not to accept (apparently, having no feelings for him doesn't count).
  • Dramatic Drop: Elizabeth is so moved by Jefferson playing the piano and singing a Christmas carol that she drops an ornament, which shatters.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Kind of. Jefferson was expecting someone older, which is why he brought the rocking chair with the coverlet embroidered with 'MOM.'
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Part of Elizabeth's phony homemaker image. Fortunately, she's got Felix to help her.
  • Funny Foreigner: Felix, with his thick accent and occasionally fractured English, who says things like "Everything is hunky dunky." Nora the Irish housekeeper also qualifies.
  • Honest Publisher: Yardley is scrupulously honest, which (ironically) is why Elizabeth can't just tell him the truth.
  • Housewife: Elizabeth has to fake being one. If she has to borrow a neighbor's baby and pass it off as her own, then so be it. She doesn't have any of the domestic skills she claims, though—she can't cook and has no experience with babies.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Elizabeth's Establishing Character Moment has her typing up a column about the Ghibli Hills-sounding "fields of our farm" while the camera pulls back from the Manhattan rooftops to show her apartment.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Elizabeth is perfectly honest about not loving John. The imminent arrival of Jefferson and Yardley to her fake house finally leads her to agree to a marriage of convenience.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: Elizabeth asks for Mozart on the record player when she and John are about to get married, but John insists on the traditional "Here Comes the Bride", a signal that he doesn't really care about her.
  • Lost at Sea: Jefferson is adrift on a lifeboat for 18 days. In this case it's not the focus of the plot, just a device to get the plot moving and eventually get Jefferson invited to Elizabeth's house.
  • Maintain the Lie: Elizabeth has to fake being a wife, mother, and cook. The deception finally collapses when the neighbor comes and takes back her baby, and Yardley calls the cops to report a kidnapping.
  • Maternally Challenged: Elizabeth hasn't the first clue how to handle the baby she borrowed. Fortunately, Jefferson does, and she's able to nudge him into doing the work for her.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Yardley's butler asks Elizabeth early in the movie whether bottom land is best for farming. She replies that "some people say yes, and some people say no." When pressed for her opinion, she says "I'm inclined to agree with them."
  • Pretty in Mink: Elizabeth gets a fancy mink coat. This serves to contrast her true nature, an urban sophisticate, with the persona of a humble Martha Stewart-style Housewife that she assumes when writing magazine articles.
    "You don't know what a mink coat does for a girl's morale."
  • Romantic False Lead: John, the boring, stuffy Brit whom Elizabeth is marrying basically because she has nothing better to do.
  • Snow Means Love: It seems so for Elizabeth and Jefferson. They take a walk in the snowy field behind the farm, they wind up embracing when the snow from a roof slides off and dumps on them, and they take a romantic carriage ride in the snow.
  • Supreme Chef: Felix, who owns his own restaurant. He gets Yardley to offer Elizabeth's job back in part by refusing to serve him breakfast.
  • Undying Loyalty: Felix to Elizabeth. He goes along with the column and (more reluctantly) the scheme, and contrives interruptions to interrupt the civil marriage.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Subverted, as Elizabeth isn't really married. But Jefferson is clearly conflicted about falling in love with a woman he believes to be married, and Yardley for his part is horrified to see the supposed Mrs. Elizabeth Sloan obviously falling for another man.
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