Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1945. Warner Bros.. Story by Aileen Hamilton, Screenplay by Lionel Houser, Adele Comandini. Cinematography by Carl E. Guthrie. Produced by William Jacobs. Music by Friedrich Hollaender. Production Design by Stanley Fleischer. Costume Design by Milo Anderson. Film Editing by Frank Magee.
Dennis Morgan plays a soldier who survives his destroyer being sunk, rescued after weeks in a dinghy to recoup in hospital with the one thing that cheers him up: the columns of a magazine food writer who infuses her recipes with warm touches of her rural home life and family. A nurse who is sweet on Morgan writes to the owner of the magazine (Sydney Greenstreet) and requests that the writer host the soldier for Christmas dinner, which the patriotic mogul is immediately happy to do. The problem is that the writer in question is actually a New York singleton (Barbara Stanwyck) who lives in a cramped apartment and makes everything in her columns up, and even worse she can’t actually cook (she gets the recipes from her restaurant friend played by S.Z. Sakall). In danger of losing a very sweet job, Stanwyck and her besotted friend Reginald Gardiner conjure up a fiction in rural Connecticut, using Gardiner’s country home, carting along Sakall to cook and even borrowing a baby from next door (and watching Stanwyck pretend to care about it is one of the film’s chief delights). Plenty of laughs and sparkling performances override uncommitted direction and some rather lax plotting in this gem: for all the situations that the setup makes possible, it’s interesting that the whole thing isn’t sharper, particularly when you compare it to Stanwyck’s triumphs in films like Ball of Fire or The Lady Eve, but it’s still a charmer.