Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Between Remember the Night and Christmas in Connecticut, it just wouldn’t be Christmas for me anymore without Barbara Stanwyck.

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She’s at her most gorgeous in Christmas in Connecticut, playing an unmarried career woman who poses as a married expert on domesticity, gloriously bedecked in mid-’40s finery designed by Edith Head. (Head was borrowed from Paramount to dress Stanwyck; the other costumes were by Warner’s Milo Anderson.)

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Dennis Morgan was handsome and dreamy in his uniform, plus he had the most beautiful singing voice. I would’ve fallen for him like a ton of bricks, too.

 

Stanwyck’s attempts at homemaker perfection are hilarious. You could probably discuss this movie in terms of the end of the war, women being forced out of the working world as men returned from overseas, and the coming feminine housewife ideal of the 1950s, if you were so inclined.

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I’m not so inclined at the moment, however, since Christmas in Connecticut is silly and romantic, and features S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall frequently slapping his chubby cheeks and saying things are “hunky dunky.”

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I highly recommend seeing the movie if you haven’t already. It streams for free on Amazon Prime and will air on TCM this Friday night.

This morning I also watched a fluffy but entertaining 1946 comedy of remarriage set mostly at Christmastime, Never Say Goodbye, starring Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker. (And S.Z. Sakall! He was in so many movies.)

Errol Flynn was beautiful. How is it that men were dashing with thin mustaches then — Gable, Flynn, Niven, Powell — but would look bizarre with them today? And why oh why did we let dressing up, supper clubs, and dancing cheek-to-cheek disappear? There’s no romance in the world anymore.

 

I don’t see any upcoming airings of Never Say Goodbye on the TCM schedule, but the movie is available from the Warner Archive.

Riviera Style: To Catch a Thief

Kimberly at the wonderful GlamAmor blog has published a fantastic post and accompanying video on the Edith Head designed resort wardrobe featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.  If you love Grace Kelly’s cool, understated elegance in that film as much as I do, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

Wardrobe contributed so much to Hitchcock’s films and as Kimberly points out so well, Edith Head was integral in creating what we now think of as Hitchcock Style. Imagine Vertigo without Kim Novak’s severely chic gray suit, or Rear Window without Grace Kelly’s magnificent entrance in that black and white dress with the full tulle and chiffon skirt.  It can’t be done!  The best costume designers, like Mad Men’s brilliant Janie Bryant and of course Edith Head, are just as much storytellers as any writer or director.

If you want to learn more about Edith Head, I highly recommend checking out Edith Head: The Fifty Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer by Jay Jorgensen.  It’s full of stunning illustrations and photos of Head’s most memorable work, including that she did with Alfred Hitchcock.