Christmas in Connecticut

 

Navy officer, Jefferson Jones, recovering from starvation on the high seas after his ship is sunk, is sent by his nurse to enjoy the domestic bliss of a Christmas in Connecticut, so that he learns to yearn for that with her. She wants to get married. He wants to enjoy sophisticated food. What could possibly go wrong? It turns out that Connecticut, a combination of American nature & European sophistication, is a fake. Elizabeth, the writer who’s supposed to be a happy wife, knows not the first thing about husbanding or home, much less the sophisticated food that’s supposed to be the part of the sophisticated life that even the unsophisticated majority could enjoy & by which they might be attracted. One thing the two protagonists have in common is, they’ve lost their taste for food. She has available exquisite dining, but cannot be bothered, because she’s lonely. He has not recovered his health enough to enjoy safely any real food. He reads her column about great food & fine country living. It turns out that she’s offering him the only kind of culinary delights he can enjoy & she can offer. That’s unhealthy, we’re shown, & it makes for unhappiness, but that’s where we begin!

So some changes to this initial situation are necessary to make for happiness! The comic writers who turned Connecticut into the hunting grounds of American eros know it’s a fake & do their damnedest to make it true. The ambition of Christmas in Connecticut is twofold: To make American romance work by making it more sophisticated; & to make comedy more popular by tasking sophisticated writing with solving simple problems. One requirement of this task is irreverence. In this story, they play with who’s married & who’s engaged, what might constitute adultery or alienation of affection, & they hide a justice of the peace around, as though his duties were shameful, if necessary. Another requirements is to humble sophisticated people by showing their private deficiencies. Marriage is a solution to both problems: It restores some innocence to life & it makes it possible to live with many flaws or shortcomings.

Food first appears as a fantasy in our story–the fantasy of a starving sailor, Jefferson. We learn later, he gave his food to his equal in catastrophe, but not equal in nobility. You’d expect a starving sailor on a raft to dream of plenty, of his childhood favorites, & of overeating–instead, it’s French cuisine in his fantasies! How American is that! The two sailors have a comic moment–one of them mispronounces garcon, the other misunderstands it. There is an innocence there…

Before you say, the man fantasizes thus because he is an officer!, no mere sailor…, notice how America turns out to share his fantasies, or else we would not have a plot! You might say this silly movie was prophetic about the future of America! Across the fruited plains, from foodies to Martha Stewart, America has been conquered by European sophistication. I am very serious about the interpretation of dreams, so let me tell you plainly that the plot of the movie is about solving the problem of that dream. Dining alone at a fancy restaurant is not the way to live. The proper function of European sophistication is to improve the American home, not to replace it by individualism. That’s common sense about American life we can use today, when there are so many culinary offerings & so much unrelieved loneliness.

That’s why you have a romantic comedy. There’s not a lot that’s romantic about food, but it does bring up the big questions romance needs to deal with: What are the natural needs of man? What matters? The pleasant–or the useful–or the healthy–or the beautiful? What is the character of desire?

I will admit upfront that this is a mediocre movie: If you look up the director, the writers, & producers, you will discover no genius among them–all the stars are in front of the camera, rather than behind it. So the character of Hollywood mediocrity should be part of the discussion, too. The people who made this movie were competent & competence gets you far if you’re thinking in terms of genre. The possibilities of romantic happiness are not endless; nor are the human types available to poetry; a grasp of these elements & a playful criticism of social conventions makes romantic comedies what they are.

So our story is supposed to take our leading lady from here to there. This was once thought possible, even a likely occurrence in America. This is the obvious truth about romantic comedy, which you might be inclined to read as a panegyric. America was never a land of romantic comedy, but nevertheless a land where romantic comedy could happen. That is, American young women used to be in a situation where they could enjoy without terrible risks the attention & company of young men, who were comparatively unsophisticted, to say nothing less flattering… I will go so far as to say that if there is anything proved by the unromantic, unerotic, & unsophisticated movies that are most successful in our own times–the last generation or two–it is that in America wit is a woman’s concern, not a man’s.

We do not now have romantic comedies. Two important facts therefore command our attention. First, women are no longer in the position they once were in America–they are far more interested in independence & success in American society. This is part of the motion toward ever more democracy in America. This seems to kill wit, snuff it out in its infancy–although the root of it, sarcasm, seems monstrously grown in America’s young! Secondly, women in America now, for the first time, become aware of public America–or America writ large, cast broad, & transformed into information globally, instaneously, & infinitely–without a romantic education. The character of our mediocrity is an embarrassment. Like in previous ages, one does not expect American men to seek a romantic education; they have no other education but what women offer them. Thus, a national problem has arisen. I plan to solve it in this essay in the same way the comedy solves the problem of the plot.

Our sailor-protagonist is an innocent. He wants to be American, but does not know how. He is an unsuccessful American. His more demotic partner in catastrophe very loyally teaches him that, in America, if you want to get what you want, you have to become a clever talker, a rhetorician!, a love poet! A man who seduces nurses in order to get food against the doctor’s orders. There is a joke about nobility here: The sailor who had sacrificed his food is in worse shape than his less noble companion, & therefore does not get to enjoy the same feast, for medical reasons! Rationality frowns on noble sacrifice… He lacks for knowledge, not merely health, but is a quick study, which is an American quality. He dismisses his own nobility by dismissing the edible character of the K rations he offered his partner, which is also a very American quality. This reminds us that the American Navy has a remarkable reputation for keeping the men fed cooked food. I have visited the Midway & was impressed tremendously by the intelligence put into feeding generously thousands of men while at sea. American officers have, of course, their privileges to do with food & dining, but one does not see in their more sophisticated precinct the American genius at work.

It is only now that we see American women: The nurses who acquire names when once they become the objects of intrigue in man’s quest for the satisfaction of his most urgent longings. This is an amusing display of a basic truth: Desire makes knowers of us. Jefferson learns his nurse’s name in order to seduce her. But the character of that seduction distracts us from the women once more: On the one hand, the men have to be serious about deceiving the women–it takes a real art of storytelling, underlying which is the decision to put one’s stomach above another’s heart. Nobility has collapsed entirely in this new world of playful deception, all for a juicy steak. On the other hand, Jefferson learns something about women: Erotic attraction is very close to mothering. The men play the role of needy children & the women who are endeared by their weakness turn from hard task-masters obeying science, health, & government into willing accomplices of Americans’ natural farmer attitude to food. There is a little treason in the heart of freedom, & then, too, Americans had never been hungry before the Great Depression & the war! Is it a surprise that in their fantasies they rebel?

So far, so good, but there is in this series of observations about the situation of men & women no plot. The women make the plot. We see two nurses that plot their own intrigue, one that’s supposed to envelop the intrigue of the men. Comedies tend to prefer in the beginning the dialogue of two creatures of no particular importance, to introduce the audience to the play. You could say that comedy begins in gossip in order to educate it, not overcome it. We are making here a new beginning, therefore. We are done with the education of the men & are moving to the much longer, much more sophisticated education of the women. The deceptions multiply accordingly. Do the nurses understand the deceptious character of men in the new post-war American society? Regardless, they do understand that they need to get married, & it’s much harder to find men & make them marriageable. So they plot to use the childhood fantasy of the men against them, if unwittingly: Give a man an experience of the unconditional love & enjoyment of gifts that comes with a Christmas in the countryside & he will then easily prefer domesticity to the opportunities of a tumultuous city. The women are betting that American men have not changed that much: Their interest in variety, exoticism, or sophistication is far inferior to their interest in a love on which they can rely. Too much change annoys even American men: They may not see it until it’s pointed out, but their restlessness requires that they rest in a home. One of the nurses assures the other that a third had already proved the point & was happily married. In America, romantic comedy is not really separable from self-help, which relies on sounding practical & obtaining testimonials.

So the nurse that sets the plot in motion concocts a plan: Get a very important newspaper baron to offer the hero-sailor, Jefferson, an all-American Christmas with an all-American family. Then Jefferson will see that he should live up to his deceptious promises out of self-interest! Self-interest rightly understood starts out as a conspiracy of women! But look, too, how the conspiracy is effected. There is no official connection between a wealthy billionaire who lives secluded on Long Island & a nurse working on Staten Island. But she had once nursed for the press baron, so there is a private connection. The way of woman is not authority, but influence, apparently!

This press baron, Yardley, sells Americans, among other things, the fantasy of American domesticity. He stands up for it, but does not embody it. He lives a life halfway between an European aristocrat & an American businessman. He is fat & he makes of his fat a principle: He will not be bullied by his doctor & his science. Whatever he may do for the nurse, however he may prefer the advantageous to the noble, he’s a sucker for the pleasant. Sophistication is a halfway house between nobility & advantage. It is less self-denying than the one, less self-seeking than the other. Yardley sells a sophisticated version of American domesticity for the modern audience of magazines–sophisticated women. All American women are becoming sophisticated: The money is in the numbers. But before all these women, the man himself is sold on this life he does not embody–we see neither wife nor children in his own case. He is abstracted from private life to reveal something about the combination of gullibility & guile of American business, to complicate the teaching concerning self-interest rightly understood.

Naturally, his press baron heart melts when the nurse tels him her story; his nose for business sniffs out a great opportunity in selling Americans on yet another fantasy that turns out to be both a public duty & a crisis society must face, Americanizing their veterans! In America, telling the difference between patriotism & successful business practices is not easy. Stated with adequate grandeur, the story Yardley wants to sell is both a reward & a triumph of peace over war, of the civilians over the military, & of the life with rest & leisure & reading over the life of striving, danger, & death! If you like this kind of humor, you might say the romantic comedy is its own version of the GI Bill…

As is his habit, Yardley summons his editor–he only asks two things of his editors, to tell the truth & to obey his orders!–to summon the all-American wife with the all-American husband, child, farmhouse in Connecticut, & the European sophistication. That’s Elizabeth, she’s the one who concocts the stories of happy rural domesticity the majority urban America loves to read. She’s going to play host to this hero! Circulation will sky-rocket! This causes a crisis that reveals another woman’s deceptions: Elizabeth is very much single and lives an unlovely urban life in New York, having never got closer to a cow than eating a steak. She cannot cook either.

Here’s a case of what Americans call selling the sizzle, not the steak. All the recipes belong to a Hungarian chef, Felix, who is her loyal friend, because she helped him flee the old world’s self-destruction. She has a talent for writing the sort of stuff that both enchants & flatters Americans: She makes European sophistication American, so that means taking it out of Paris & putting it into Connecticut. Connecticut is the place where romantic comedy happens–happiness is possible there. Nature & sophistication meet. Meanwhile, Felix is not worried about losing his secrets: Americans are not going to start cooking their own sophisticated dinners & put him out of business. Knowledge is not quite what they think it is in the land of do it yourself…

The problem of the writer now becomes trying to embody what she stands for–becoming as good as her too good to be true words. It turns out that if you sell people fantasies, they’re going to take you so literally, & become so impatiently, tyrannically demanding that you be as perfect as you seem, that you’re going to have to live a life of lies! The man who has watched this movie, read my essay, & thought with some care about the problem of the writer as I have described it must turn to Shakespeare’s Midsummer night’s dream in order to learn how to think about imagination & taking things too literally, about impatient desires & the obliteration of reality, about old people insisting on conventions that are too punitive & about women who have to learn not to turn their mothering & eroticism into one another.

But back to our story & the crazy plan the woman hatches with her American & European servants. She will enter into a fake marriage for real, with an architect, Sloan, who tries hard to pass for a snob, which is not hard in America–the cook will do the cooking–& she will borrow a local child. The war hero & the press baron both have to be deceived successfully now. So one problem with being as cynical as the woman initially is, Americans are too idealistic for cynicism to work out so easily. People who talk about getting real need to get real about that. The comic poet ruins this comic plan, because it’s unrealistic: America cannot survive if the lies Americans want to believe are true turn the truth about American private life into lies. The writer thought she could keep America at a distance, lie endlessly, & never have to face the consequences of the love she inspires. Poets may profit by man’s natural desires, but they have no power to extirpate that desiring nature. They are not creators, ultimately.

Every clueless character in this story turns out to have something endearing about him–the very successful, very urban characters who think of themselves as atop America turn out, for all their unearned smugness, also to have an endearing side. They’re very childish when they learn that they, too, are human beings & are capable of loving & being loved. Comedy makes the fantasies of domestic bliss livable, partly by relieving the moralistic burden of the conventions, which makes Americans hate themselves if they don’t live up to public expectations, & partly by retrieving the playfulness that does not belong to public America, where success & justice dominate mind & body alike. The philosophical reader might also consider that the difference between private life & public life is that private life cannot be publicized–making a mockery of it in a sense saves its character. Now, all mockery is not equal: The public pretense of American success is mocked because of its lack of self-understanding, whereas private life is mocked because it’s funny to see people do in public what belongs in private. Comedy satisfies the anger we feel against the moralists, the need to knock them off their pedestals–or, as Americans might say, with less of the whiff of the revolution, take them down a few notches–at the same time it satisfies our lust, our desire for life’s natural pleasures.

Then there is the European cook–Felix is a better father to Elizabeth than her editor, who is a servant to his boss &, though he knows Sloan is a terrible match for Elizabeth, he accedes to this marriage of convenience because he cannot summon the dignity to ask more of himself than convenience. Felix is better than Yardley, too, come to think of it, who is a tyrannic child in his desire to see her flip pancakes. There is something childish, too, in Yardley’s glee that Elizabeth’s children could boost his circulation even more & her would-be husband’s architectural projects even more so. This would end up with the monstrous transformation of private life into a public fantasy, bought & sold. But look at the details: Cooking & architecture, a husband & a child–it’s America’s women that might unwittingly transform America into something monstrous by insisting too much on living the American dream. Felix is better than Sloan, too, the would-be husband, who is a moralistic, unerotic man who wants a witty woman because he fancies himself a wit–if only she were more conventional. She’d be a social success, but don’t let’s risk infamy!

These three men, in their lack of self-awareness, not only describe three possible miserble futures dramatized by Hollywood elsewhere, but they’re all very patronizing. It turns out that for a woman to be free to marry well, she does have to free herself from the fake images of American happiness. In America, private happiness is too much bought & sold, business itself is too much of a mixture of private & public, for women to trust themselves to this new situation.

Comparatively, Felix has an endearing vulnerability about himself & boast only the un-tyrannic wisdom typified in American movies by a grandfather. He has a variably successful willingness to learn American phrases–it’s endearing, too, that the American writers & their audience do not know that Europeans, too, know the word catastrophe. This movie was made in 1945. Felix is the only character who is not too tied up in the plot, because his desires are not so tyrannical. So he listens to people & tries to please them, but at the same time, he learns from the American vernacular to play hardball to get people to see their self-interest. Enlightening self-interest takes both persuasion & some compulsion, because man is, as the good book says, stiff-necked… At the same time, he knows enough to leave nature take its course with the young after he makes it possible for them to unentangle themselves from their illusions & delusions–he does not want to impose on them.

Felix, by the way, is opposed to mink coats except on minks–this is because the writer-lady has a Mae West moment. Mae West famously said everyone knew she did her best work in bed, by which she alluded to the fact that she liked to write such jokes in bed. So also the lady who’s learning about how to navigate the conflicting demands of success & family in post-war America: She quips, about her writing for the magazine, the things a girl will do for a mink coat… The erotic suggestion of course recalls that what fantasies turn out to be about, mostly, is poetry. In one sense, that makes poets America’s true economists: They’re making money out of nothing but illusions. & what are illusions but mere nothing? In another sense, the problem with the mink coat is that women in America will buy these things. Mink coats are supposed to be bought by men, but American women are so invested in getting what they want, like the men, that they will get their own, never mind the loneliness involved in getting what one wants. Poetic fantasies are not supposed to become a substitute for life! If women do for themselves what men might do to please them, that cannot magically conjure up men! The mink coat Liz buys is supposed to cover up her loneliness & self-contempt in glamour, thus revealing what she fears about herself: That her work is really polished mediocrity–much admired at a distance, but deeply unlovely.

This is why she jumps at the chance to make love to an all-American man in uniform. It is respite from the exceedingly talky life of the sophisticate urban people who do not really have or want an education. The simpler, less educated man at least has his real experience, both domestic & martial, & none of the prattle. It’s also worth asking whether a fake sophistication or a genuine simplicity is easier for a woman to educate about the love & friendship that make marriage work.

There are 39 comments.

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  1. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I haven’t watched this movie in years, but you made me want to see it again.

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    RightAngles (View Comment):
    I haven’t watched this movie in years, but you made me want to see it again.

    I’m so glad. Being that I still have breath in me, I mean to persuade people to go back to movies written by adults for adults…

    • #2
  3. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    movies written by adults for adults…

    Problem is that younger Americans are poorly educated.  Hollywood makes movies for the masses, and they seem to be making money.  I cannot remember the last time that I watched a movie that was interesting – maybe The Sting?

    • #3
  4. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    movies written by adults for adults…

    Problem is that younger Americans are poorly educated. Hollywood makes movies for the masses, and they seem to be making money. I cannot remember the last time that I watched a movie that was interesting – maybe The Sting?

    Egads. When did you watch it? Great movie, btw…

    • #4
  5. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Folks, if you like what you’re reading, do me a favor & vote to publish it. Then I can share it online!

    • #5
  6. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Folks, if you like what you’re reading, do me a favor & vote to publish it. Then I can share it online!

    Done & done.

    • #6
  7. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Wow, Titus, that was longer than the movie!

    • #7
  8. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Simon Templar (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    movies written by adults for adults…

    Problem is that younger Americans are poorly educated. Hollywood makes movies for the masses, and they seem to be making money. I cannot remember the last time that I watched a movie that was interesting – maybe The Sting?

    Egads. When did you watch it? Great movie, btw…

    When it came out.  Think movies were only 35 cents when I was a kid.  That meant I only needed to pick 35 lbs. of cotton (penny a pound) to watch a movie.  Good ole days.

    • #8
  9. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Supergirl, Catwoman, or Wonder Woman?

    • #9
  10. Mark Thatcher
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    What made the movie for me was the cast.  In those days when you saw Greenstreet and SZ Sakall in the cast you knew you were in for a film with a certain type of ambiance (didn’t matter if it was comedy or drama) – a promise they always delivered on.  And Barbara Stanwyck is so fun to watch in this – just observe her reactions, even without the dialogue is a delight.  Hard to believe the movie she did right before this was Double Indemnity.  A different cast would have given different results since, as you point out, the inherent strength of the screenplay is not great, nor is there any innovative cinematorgaphy.

    • #10
  11. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Let’s get this on the Main Feed to show Ricochet’s versatility! Then Titus can share it online and attract new members.

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    You can look for deep philosophical truths in screwball comedies. You can look for 35 year old cognac in the Specials bin at Valu-Rite Discount Liquors too.

    I’m teasing, Titus. It’s an interesting post.

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Percival (View Comment):
    You can look for deep philosophical truths in screwball comedies. You can look for 35 year old cognac in the Specials bin at Valu-Rite Discount Liquors too.

    I’m teasing, Titus. It’s an interesting post.

    Merci, monami le chevalier!

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):
    Wow, Titus, that was longer than the movie!

    I know! I’ve wrestled with whether to post this or chop it up–they call it editing, but it’s chop-chop work…–then I realized, I’ve such a small audience, that it’s ok…

    • #14
  15. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Mark (View Comment):
    What made the movie for me was the cast. In those days when you saw Greenstreet and SZ Sakall in the cast you knew you were in for a film with a certain type of ambiance (didn’t matter if it was comedy or drama) – a promise they always delivered on. And Barbara Stanwyck is so fun to watch in this – just observe her reactions, even without the dialogue is a delight. Hard to believe the movie she did right before this was Double Indemnity. A different cast would have given different results since, as you point out, the inherent strength of the screenplay is not great, nor is there any innovative cinematorgaphy.

    Yes, I find, when I go back to movies I watched ten years or five years ago, I dwell on the actors–I realize I’m no different to a kid, but I marvel at the funny stuff they do, I go pop-eyed at the dangerous stuff–I find it much easier to watch the movie… I’m a professional critic, so I often do analysis or writing in my head when I watch movies. I don’t have a problem with that, it’s just my way–but it is refreshing to be brought back to the basic naivety we bring to the movies.

    & all these uncle-grandpa figures Hollywood used to have are just great for the purpose!

    • #15
  16. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Taped this and watched it the other night, based on your previous mention of it somewhere here.

    Wonderful movie!

    • #16
  17. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    She (View Comment):
    Taped this and watched it the other night, based on your previous mention of it somewhere here.

    Wonderful movie!

    I’m so glad you liked it! It’s got charm, & it makes all these jokes about what people dream about without ruining the dreams.

    • #17
  18. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Titus Techera: That the American writers & their audience do not know that Europeans, too, know the word catastrophe.

    I thought that this was more a joke that Americans mispronounce the word. Once Felix understood the odd American pronunciation, “cu-tas-tro-fee” he could identify the word “ca-tas-trof” that he knew.

    • #18
  19. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I confess to being old fashioned enough to be really uncomfortable with the way Elizabeth tried to get Jefferson to “make love” (in the old fashioned not modern sense) to her when he still thought she was married.

    • #19
  20. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    I confess to being old fashioned enough to be really uncomfortable with the way Elizabeth tried to get Jefferson to “make love” (in the old fashioned not modern sense) to her when he still thought she was married.

    Yeah. Then again, she’s American: Screwball doesn’t work except among people less worried about manners than morals. She knows it’s not adultery, & so it’s ok!, as if his different position is a matter of unimportance, & he should just know who she really is & how things really are, because they’re sweet on each other. I think you could also say, love sweeps away lotsa laws & there’s something innocent about it.

    • #20
  21. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    One thing screwball brought to American romance is childhood & playfulness. It’s not always obvious, but the giddy aspect of love is always on show. This is partly knowing your stuff: Comedy is about what’s funny. Giddiness is one of the funniest things about love. Partly, it’s trying to remind people that there is human nature under the conventions of politeness & even those of morality. That not even in America are people willing to do publicly what they’re keen on privately. So there’s gotta be a way of acknowledging these different worlds & the different rules by which people live.

    Of course, making fun of the pompous or presumptuous has never been a hard sell in America. The people are always ready to mock their self-appointed betters. The deeper problem is whether anyone’s allowed to make fun of the people. I don’t mean hateful people like Mencken. I mean people who like America, but don’t worship it…

    • #21
  22. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    I confess to being old fashioned enough to be really uncomfortable with the way Elizabeth tried to get Jefferson to “make love” (in the old fashioned not modern sense) to her when he still thought she was married.

    Yeah. Then again, she’s American: Screwball doesn’t work except among people less worried about manners than morals. She knows it’s not adultery, & so it’s ok!, as if his different position is a matter of unimportance, & he should just know who she really is & how things really are, because they’re sweet on each other. I think you could also say, love sweeps away lotsa laws & there’s something innocent about it.

    The movie certainly made fun of the poor Irish servant who knew quite well they were not married, in a way that supports your point. She should just have known they’d be only madcap, not immoral.

    • #22
  23. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Well, the truth is, if people were not moralistic–that is, if they didn’t exaggerate their claims to know & to judge moral & practical things, there would not be much room left for comedy… Or if they did not tolerate any mockery of their moralism.

    • #23
  24. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Comic poetry is the political name of philosophy in our world. It is poised paradoxically to solve our conservative problems through revolutionary means while opposing any revolution in the name of conservative common sense.

    If we did not have practical problems, there would be no comic solutions to reveal to us our nature. But if on the other hand those problems could be solved through revolution or political transformation, there would be no need for poets or for plots.

    The comic poet lives & dies by the claim that he can put together & keep apart public & private better than anyone else. I am not sure anyone really dares make this claim anymore. I’m not sure I would stand up before the American people & make the claim…

    But Americans live truths they dare not utter. Liberals, in their hyper-moralism about individual choice without consequences are the primary cliants of stand-up comedy & gross comedies about the awful consequences of stupid choices!

    Conservatives, who should be the ones making & praising these stories, will have none of them.

    On the other hand, conservatives, who are supposedly hard-nosed about crime, sin, & the tragedy of life, are not hard to win by good-natured sentimentalism & kindness…

    • #24
  25. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    When Felix crows exultantly at the end, “She can’t cook, but what a wife!” it’s kind of related to the mink coat. He wants her not living a life a lies, or prostituting or what have you, but a wife, which she nearly is the furthest thing from.

    But — all the wifely qualities she displays are acting on a set. She doesn’t have any of the skills — she can’t even figure out a diaper, for crying out loud! The home, the child are not hers, only the stylish outfits? Is being a wife about style?

    Her loyalty to her fiance is terrible. He’s no gem, but she certainly uses him. I admit he doesn’t seem to mind too much, but still…

    • #25
  26. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Comic poetry is the political name of philosophy in our world. It is poised paradoxically to solve our conservative problems through revolutionary means while opposing any revolution in the name of conservative common sense.

    If we did not have practical problems, there would be no comic solutions to reveal to us our nature. But if on the other hand those problems could be solved through revolution or political transformation, there would be no need for poets or for plots.

    The comic poet lives & dies by the claim that he can put together & keep apart public & private better than anyone else. I am not sure anyone really dares make this claim anymore. I’m not sure I would stand up before the American people & make the claim…

    But Americans live truths they dare not utter. Liberals, in their hyper-moralism about individual choice without consequences are the primary cliants of stand-up comedy & gross comedies about the awful consequences of stupid choices!

    Conservatives, who should be the ones making & praising these stories, will have none of them.

    On the other hand, conservatives, who are supposedly hard-nosed about crime, sin, & the tragedy of life, are not hard to win by good-natured sentimentalism & kindness…

    Put together and keep apart public and private? Please say more.

    • #26
  27. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    When Felix crows exultantly at the end, “She can’t cook, but what a wife!” it’s kind of related to the mink coat. He wants her not living a life a lies, or prostituting or what have you, but a wife, which she nearly is the furthest thing from.

    But — all the wifely qualities she displays are acting on a set. She doesn’t have any of the skills — she can’t even figure out a diaper, for crying out loud! The home, the child are not hers, only the stylish outfits? Is being a wife about style?

    Her loyalty to her fiance is terrible. He’s no gem, but she certainly uses him. I admit he doesn’t seem to mind too much, but still…

    Americans push self-interest a long way, what can I say! I would say that Sloan does much worse by Elizabeth than she by him, but none of these creatures is pure as the driven snow.

    As for the wife skills, I think you’re partially right: Domestic bliss requires lots of things she does not know. But the comedy is built around the temptations that keep modern marriage from happening or from working out right. The fake marriage is a way to cure the woman & the man of expectations that are likely to drive them insane. This is as much as comedy can do for them, free them to love each other well.

    • #27
  28. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    So in reality Liz is not affianced to Sloan. It’s a lie gussied up as a business proposition. Of course, things could go either way in comedy, because comedy is all about making the false into the truth. Things might turn into the kind of love & faith required for a real marriage. (This was the theme of what may have been the last successful rom-com, The proposal, starring two lovely ladies, Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds.) Or it could be, like in this story, that the fake marriage is rejected in favor of a true one. Either way, the point is that the characters have to experience for themselves & reject the thing that kills love.

    • #28
  29. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):Put together and keep apart public and private? Please say more.

    One way to tell the difference between private & public is, can you talk about it? Everyone has had the experience of being trapped inside himself: Of trying to say something, knowing what one is trying to say, but not being able to find the words to say it.–Or using words others cannot understand.–Or of being ignored, seeing others live as one oneself did not even exist. That’s one extreme of privacy.

    The difference between public & private also has to do with things you know, but will not say. This is harder to explain to Americans, so it’s not a staple of the movies or popular music, but it is possible to keep things to oneself.

    These are ways of saying that how you act is what matters, not who you are. But by what criteria or by what prudence do you decide what things should be said & what things should not be said, what things are impossible to say, but are nevertheless part of human experience?

    American comics obey the rule of extreme vulgarity: The more you expose, the truer you are. The only reason that works is, publicizing private things transforms them, tends to change their nature.

    You can see how people react–the same deed, done in private & in public, can cause joy & disgust, pleasure & shame…

    The togetherness & separateness of public & private is a mystery…

    • #29
  30. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    So in reality Liz is not affianced to Sloan. It’s a lie gussied up as a business proposition. Of course, things could go either way in comedy, because comedy is all about making the false into the truth. Things might turn into the kind of love & faith required for a real marriage. (This was the theme of what may have been the last successful rom-com, The proposal, starring two lovely ladies, Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds.) Or it could be, like in this story, that the fake marriage is rejected in favor of a true one. Either way, the point is that the characters have to experience for themselves & reject the thing that kills love.

    Au contraire, in reality they are indeed engaged and pursuing matrimony. The whole thing with the justice of the  peace popping out windows thing?

    • #30

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