Christmas in Connecticut (1945) is not a perfect little comedy—a little of S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall’s cuteness goes a long way—but it gives Barbara Stanwyck a chance to flex her comedy muscles, and she’s a delight. It’s the story of a complete fraud, a woman named Elizabeth Lane who writes for a magazine called Smart Housekeeping and shares with her readers various recipes, tips on how to entertain and anecdotes about her life in rural Connecticut with her husband and newborn baby. Except for her name and employer, none of that is true. Lane gets her recipes from a nearby restaurateur (Sakall) and hacks out copy on her small typewriter in a dingy little flat in Manhattan. When she is called upon by her unknowing publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) to host a war hero (Dennis Morgan) on her farm for a lavish Christmas dinner, the movie, in best screwball fashion, becomes a mad scramble to create her on-page persona. Greenstreet, Una O’Connor and Reginald Gardiner provide ace support, but when Sakall says “Hunky dunky!” for the 40th time, one may feel compelled to throw one’s purse at the screen.
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In this colorful, silent little treat, California's Apple Valley Inn is host to Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and crew on location for Douglas Sirk’s There’s Always Tomorrow (1956). Additional amateur footage documents the Beverly Hills wedding of Ann Blyth and various celebrities like Jeanne Crain, Jack Benny and Irene Dunne arriving at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Rita Hayworth is born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, 1918. In an early role, she played Barbara Stanwyck’s sister in A Message to Garcia (1936) at Fox. Few people saw her performance, as her scenes were cut Darryl F. Zanuck after a test screening. Her manager and first husband Edward Judson maneuvered her to Columbia, where studio head Harry Cohn had her hairline raised through electrolysis and gave her a new name. She attracted attention in Only Angels Have Wings (1939), became a star with You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) and reached the heights with Gilda (1946), a movie that was a blessing and curse in one. “Every man I have ever known has fallen in love with Gilda and awakened with me,” Hayworth once said. “No one can be Gilda 24 hours a day.”