Monday, November 26, 2018

Old Movie Monday - Christmas in Connecticut


The Grandin Theatre
Roanoke, Virginia

This weeks featured theater is near and dear to my heart, The Grandin Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia. 

In 1931, Roanoke architect John Zink and his crew began construction on The Grandin Theatre. On March 26, 1932, Roanoke’s top movie palace opened its doors for the first time for a screening of “Arrowsmith.” Tickets were 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids at the time the auditorium and balcony sat 944. The Grandin Theatre was the first theatre in Roanoke to have “talking pictures.”

It stayed a cinema for over 40 years until it closed in 1976 and was taken over by Mill Mountain Theatre in 1976, who over the next seven years produced shows like The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun. In 1983, Jack Andrews bought the Theatre and screened classics, second run movies, and art films. He also presented Live Shows. During this time, blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and BB King rocked the house.

Two years later, the Grandin closed its doors once again, this time due to financial issues. However, in 1986, the theatre opened up again under the guidance of manager Julie Hunsaker, who brought in art house, indie and foreign films. She even brought in comedy legend Bill Murray, who in 1990, hosted a benefit to help the Grandin pay its bills. Unfortunately, it was still a challenge to keep the history alive. In November of 2001, The Grandin Theatre was forced to close for the third time.

However, just one month before, under the guidance of community developer Ed Walker, the Grandin Theatre Foundation was formed. Over the next year, the Foundation held the “Save the Grandin” campaign and on October 20, 2002, the theatre was able to reopen after raising the funds to buy and renovate the theatre. It has been keeping the history alive ever since. It’s not just about the movies. It’s about the community. It’s the history. It’s the people. It’s the Grandin Theatre.

Keep these old theater's alive, support The Grandin!

Christmas In Connecticut
Original Premiere Date - August 11, 1945

Every year around Christmas I watch my favorite classic movie, Christmas In Connecticut, and every time I watch it I pine for that Connecticut farmhouse all over again.

The farmhouse itself isn't real, it was built on a Warner Brothers soundstage in Burbank, California, but apparently people have been looking for blue prints for it for years!

The star of the movie is Barbra Stanwyk (of Big Valley fame), who portrays Elizabeth Lane, a columnist who writes for Smart Housekeeping chronicling her idyllic life as a writer, wife, mother and accomplished cook living on a farm in Connecticut.

In the opening scene she writes in her column;

“From my living room window as I write, I can look out across the broad front lawns of our farm, like a lovely picture postcard of wintry New England. In my fireplace the good cedar logs are burning and crackling.”

But the truth of the matter is, Elizabeth Lane can't boil water, and this is the view from her New York City office window.

The Connecticut farmhouse belongs to her architect fiancee', but one can guess that it is definitely the inspiration for the setting in her stories.

When an army nurse writes to publishing titan Alexander Yardley and requests for him to arrange for war hero Jefferson Jones to spend Christmas with Elizabeth Lane, Yardley invites himself along. This forces Elizabeth and her boyfriend/fiance  to have to pretend to be married, and she convinces Uncle Felix, a local friend and chef whose recipes are featured in her column, to come along.

Guests arrive by sleigh in the winter. Here we see Elizabeth and her now fiancee arriving at the farmhouse and they are about to be married to protect Elizabeth's secret and her job!

And here's a view of the beautiful great room!

And just look at that fireplace! It's so big the mantel is above their heads!  Here we see John Sloan, Elizabeth's fiancee, discussing details with the minister for the wedding ceremony.

Here is another view of the Great Room with a peek at the piano and the large window nearby where Jefferson Jones is playing Christmas carols for an admiring Elizabeth.

And get a look at that staircase!  In this scene Nora (the housekeeper), has packed her bags and is leaving, tired of all the lies and covering for Ms. Lane.

And then there's the cheery "eat-in" kitchen where we find our friends enjoying breakfast.

Just look at those cute checked curtains!  Want to bet they are red and white?  Mr. Yardley and Jefferson Jones are enjoying a late night snack in this scene.

It's Jones that Elizabeth ends up falling in love with, and eventually Mr. Yardley uncovers the facade!
But in true romantic-comedy fashion, all the lies, mix-ups and misunderstandings all get straightened out and Elizabeth ends up keeping her job and column.

Sadly, however, in choosing Jefferson over John, Elizabeth loses that gorgeous farmhouse, so I don't know? Too bad Sloan wasn't feeling generous and didn't gift them the house!

At any rate, it's a wonderful holiday classic, and if you've never seen it I encourage you to! It's available for rent from Amazon for just $2.99 (no affiliate links, yet!).  Why not pour yourself a cup of tea or cider one cold, wintry afternoon during the holiday season and enjoy it for yourself!

Here's the original preview to wet your appetite!

Until then, I hope you have a marvelous Monday!

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