Over the past couple of weeks, I watched several Christmas movies. I wasn’t aware that I had a theme this year, but I seemed to pick out ones from the 1940′s. I skipped It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street this year since I’ve seen both movies several times and wanted to branch out a little. Apparently, I couldn’t leave the decade.
In The Bishop’s Wife (1947), Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) is on a mission to build a cathedral. He spends most of his time trying to raise the money, leaving little time for his family, his friends, and his congregation. But he hits a roadblock in the funds when a wealthy widow will only donate the money if he bends to her will on the construction. He prays for guidance and is aided by Dudley the Angel (Cary Grant). But Dudley doesn’t really help the Bishop in the way he imagined. I highly recommend it!
In Christmas in Connecticut (1945), Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a popular magazine columnist who writes about her adventures in cooking, housekeeping, and raising a family on her farm in Connecticut. Normally, it isn’t a problem that Miss Lane lives in a small NYC apartment and has never cooked in her life, but her editor (who thinks she’s on the level) has asked her to host an injured sailor who has never had a real family Christmas. Chaos ensues.
Farms in Connecticut seem to be the standard of perfection in the 1940′s. In Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn (1942) Jim Hardy (played by Bing Crosby) decides to lounge around one after tiring of show business and having his partner, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), steal his fiance. Of course, farms are a lot of work. So after a few months of waking up at the crack of dawn and slipping on ice while carrying wood, he decides to only work on holidays. He opens Holiday Inn for dinner, dancing, and entertainment and hires (and falls in love with) Lila Dixon to be his show partner. But Ted Hanover can’t just stay away. (Beware–the Lincoln’s Birthday number would never be made today. I would like to say it’s from the 1940′s, but still…)
Mary Marshall (Ginger Rogers) meets Zach Morgan (Joseph Cotten) on a train home for Christmas in I’ll Be Seeing You (1944). Morgan is on leave from the army and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is intrigued by Miss Marshall and stays in her town during his eight-day leave since he has no family of his own. Mary Marshall is also on leave…good behavior leave from state prison. Will Zach Morgan stay interested when she reveals her secret?