Christmastime is Here

Every year while I run myself ragged preparing for the holiday (this will be our second year going on the road), I tell myself I'm crazy. And then a funny thing happens. I get the Christmas spirit.

It happened for me this morning, when I awoke and it dawned on me that my to-do list is down to a manageable size. I hummed Christmas carols as I stuffed the giant Christmas stocking we will carry with us with the last of the gifts, and I've been humming ever since.

We'll leave tomorrow morning at around 9AM (got to get those sofa armrest covers and pillows to the cleaners so I can have a nice clean house in time for New Year's.) We won't be back until December 30th, and I won't be blogging while we're away. But do check out my end-of-year musings on Blogging in Black on Christmas Eve.

A couple of real chestnuts (get it?) are being aired between Sunday night, the 23rd, and Christmas Day on Turner Classic Movies. Up first is Christmas in Connecticut, a charming romantic comedy from 1945 with Barbara Stanwyck, one year after she played that murdering adulterous vixen in Double Indemnity. (Also in the cast is the imposing, fear-inspiring Sydney Greenstreet, so I guess everybody felt like doing comedy that year.) Babs plays a homemaking columnist for a leading woman's magazine who writes about life on her Connecticut farm with her husband and baby, sharing mouth-watering recipes. The truth is that she's single, childless and lives in a tiny New York apartment . . . and she can't cook. All her recipes come from her Uncle Felix, a Hungarian restaurateur. The scheme threatens to blow up in her face when her publisher insists that she entertain a war hero (remember, in 1945 the war had just ended) over the Christmas holiday. High jinks follow.

This movie was filmed in a remake deemed dreadful by just about all who saw it in 1992, directed by the now Governor of California (I say that because I can't spell his last name) starring Dyan Cannon (I never saw it and don't want to; even in 1992 Dyan Cannon had to be in her mid-50s, way too old for this part), and is being re-made again for theatrical release in 2009. The story will obviously have to be updated, and it'll be interesting to see how they pull off a domestic diva with no skills in this day and age of TV and Internet. Can you imagine Martha Stewart not being able to demonstrate her homemaking abilities on live TV?

The original is also notable for an important scene (at least to me) involving a black man. Most blacks, particularly black men, were portrayed as simpering idiots on the screen, but when Uncle Felix asks one of his waiters if the word "catastrophe" meant something good. The waiter's intelligent reply was a rarity in film. It happens fairly early in the movie, so don't miss it! Also, if you ever watched the original Superman series with George Reeves, watch for "Inspector Henderson" in the beginning of the movie as Barbara Stanwyck's agent. He was younger here, and actually rather good-looking. But he had a very distinct speaking voice that you're likely to recognize before the face. Finally, if that gorgeous, sprawling Connecticut house looks familiar, it was the same set used for the classic Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby from 1938.

Another cute semi-classic is Holiday Affair from 1949. This was an entertaining but low-budget film because Robert Mitchum had just been released from jail after serving six months for marijuana possession (he always looked a little high to me with those droopy eyes,) and the studio was afraid of how the public would receive him. (Back in those days actors were required to behave in a certain manner; it was called a "morals clause.") Janet Leigh, all of 22 at the time, looked a little young to be a widow with a 6-year-old son, but it all comes together. Janet's about to remarry to a stuffy lawyer when she meets Robert Mitchum in a department store and her life changes direction over the course of one week. This one was remade for TV a few years back - they show it on Lifetime - nicely updated, and they found an effectively handsome rogue to play the Mitchum part, although I prefer the original.

Both movies will air on TCM the night of December 23rd. Holiday Affair additionally airs on the morning of Christmas Eve, and Christmas in Connecticut on Christmas morning. I do hope they have TCM at the Homestead Suites . . . .

Merry Christmas to you and yours!! I hope to see you here on January 1st, when I'll be introducing the first of four "guest blogs" by the characters of Once Upon A Project, to run the 1st day of January, February, March, and April.


DonnaD said...

As always, I am in awe of how you do all that you do and still have time to write, edit and blog. You are my she-ro!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year! Safe travels and I'll see you round the blogsphere!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

Merry Christmas, Bettye. Travel safe and we'll see you in the new year.


All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

nice blog, and lovd the piece o bloging in black....have a happy nappy holiday and maybe one day u can pick up one of my books one day