Christmas in Connecticut (1992)
There is exactly one interesting thing about this movie: It was directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, Arnold has had a hugely successful Hollywood career and transformed himself from a ‘roided up Austrian mute to a blockbuster star to the Governor of California (?!), to sort of an old man mentor now. He’s had an amazing life.
In 1992 Schwarzenegger was coasting on a career high, having starred in Terminator 2: Judgment Day just one year before. He could, apparently, do anything he wanted. Like, I dunno, direct a made-for-TV remake of the classic 1945 original movie about a food writer who has to pretend to be the perfect housewife and winds up falling in love through all the shenanigans.
You are well-served by not knowing this retelling of that tale exists. It aired on TNT and a CTMQ reader alerted me to its existence. I hope that person gets coal in her stocking. I didn’t think there was any way I would be able to watch this nonsense, but it’s actually carried by several libraries in Connecticut.
Hold up. “She’s hungry for ratings, he’s hungry for dinner?” Spoiler alert, he’s convinced to travel to Connecticut by the $25,000 payout to appear on her show, so that tagline is not even true.
So here we are. I guess it’s kind of good that the movie isn’t a faithful remake at all. The original is fun and funny and leans heavily on the performances of its stars Barbara Stanwyck, Sydney Greenstreet, S. Z. Sakall, and Dennis Morgan. Here, we have Dyan Cannon, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Curtis, Richard Roundtree, a horrible kid, and some random weirdos.
“But,” you say, “Dyan Cannon, Tony Curtis, and Richard Roun – wait, the Shaft guy? Awesome – and Richard Roundtree aren’t terrible.” And you’re right. Cannon’s apparent joy to star in this project is oddly enchanting, and Tony Curtis’s creepy lecherous role is so dumb and “easy,” it seemed like he enjoyed this nonsense too.
This is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I felt embarrassed for everyone involved except for the horrible kid and the horrible boyfriend of an assistant. I don’t know why either was written to be the characters they were and I wanted to punch them both in the face throughout the movie.
If you’re familiar with the 1945 original classic, you will recognize some parallels beyond the protagonists’ names. The horrid Kris Kristofferson is Jefferson Jones, but instead of a war hero, he’s a Grizzly Adams type hero who saved some little boy out in a blizzard. Dyan Cannon is Elizabeth Blane, the successful TV cook and homemaker who can’t cook or homemake.
Blah, blah, blah, he “wins” a contest to go to Blane’s Connecticut farmhouse to enjoy Christmas as wealthy WASP Nutmeggers do. The problem is, she’s a fraud. (A bigger problem is, he wouldn’t care to know she’s a fraud, because he doesn’t know who she is – as opposed to the original when Jefferson was a huge fan of the popular “Mrs. Lane.” I do not know why in 1992 she became “Blane.”)
She accesses a house in the great state of Connecticut (she’s a Manhattanite) and gets her helpers to set up the ruse before Jefferson arrives. There will be a big Christmas dinner and it’ll all be filmed live for her vast TV audience.
This Jefferson is an idiot, but at least he knows how to bathe babies and make coffee. He takes Elizabeth on a goose hunt in the snow. She notes that “New York City wouldn’t be so great if you couldn’t escape to Connecticut.” That got a laugh from me.
Speaking of New York City – random aside. I watched all 24 episodes of the first season of Saturday Night Live over the course of 2022. Mostly for “history of comedy” and cultural anthropology reasons. Anyway, both Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson were hosts that year – and both were terrible. She was better than he, but he was drunk out of his mind.
Weird that those two have that tenuous connection, and here they were in 1992 being directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in an abysmal remake of a beloved movie. This, by the way, was Schwarzenegger’s only directing gig, ever. Watch this movie and you’ll immediately understand why.
Elizabeth is a mess, but her heart is in the right place. She even chases the weirdo boyfriend out to the “Parkersburg, Connecticut” train station to save their abusive relationship.
Because I’m insane, I had to know where this is. Now you know too:
God, I hate this movie.
Let’s see, what else. Everyone’s freaking out because the cooking show is going to be live but Elizabeth can’t cook. Tony Curtis and others come up with creative ways to get around that inconvenient fact, but it all goes awry. Tony Curtis faints, the little gross kid vomits all over the place, nothing works, blah, blah, blah.
But Elizabeth doesn’t care because she’s tired of the hustle and bustle of New York, she’s tired of pretending, and now she was in love. With the burly mountain man who came here for a paycheck.
Do you hate Christmas? And do you hate joy and nice things? Do you hate being entertained and being happy? Then 1992’s Christmas in Connecticut is for you, my friend.
CTMQ Rating: 0 out of 5 thumbs up
Connecticutness: 24 out of 169 Nutmegs
Filmed in Connecticut? No
Wealthy Caucasian with a Big House? Yes