Archive for ‘Screwball Comedy’

February 28th, 2011

I Love You Again (1940)

I Love You Again I Love You Again I Love You Again
You be careful, madam, or you’ll turn my pretty head with your flattery.
I often wished I could turn your head – on a spit, over a slow fire.

Happy (VERY) Belated Valentine’s Day, dear readers! This year for Hallmark’s most important holiday, I wanted to watch something a bit off the beaten rom-com path without delving into territory too arcane. When I asked myself what elements I felt were important for an enjoyable romantic comedy experience, I came up with a pithy list of adjectives that included “sexy” and “sophisticated.” Who better personifies such a combination than that comedic dream team of William Powell and Myrna Loy? Answer: NO ONE.

So, I queued up W.S. Van Dyke’s 1940 love letter, I Love You Again, in which Powell plays a stuffy, by-the-book teetotaler named Larry Wilson. Loy is along for the ride as his suffering wife. When Larry is knocked unconscious after a decidedly screwball accident (during a pleasure cruise, one too many grape juice and gingerales has him jumping overboard to save a drunken man), he awakens with amnesia and the revelation that 10 years prior, he used to be a con man named George Carey. Apparently the only thing that Wilson and Carey have in common is their attraction to Kay Hijinks ensue.

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December 19th, 2010

Midnight (1939)

Midnight Midnight Midnight

Every Cinderella has her midnight.

First order of business: my apologies for the absence of sustainable cinematic content over the past few months. Real life, holiday life, and some other lives in between have intruded on my blogging duties. But hopefully that’s long past now, and we can get back to “business as usual.”

And on that note, there’s no business like show business, so let us commence discussion of Mitchell Leisen’s 1939 production of Midnight. Interestingly enough, this is a film that lays claim to a screenwriting credit from Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, the very same pair that brought us such gems as A Foreign Affair and Sunset Blvd. While Midnight does not even approach the brilliance of those titles, perhaps in part because it is an adaptation as opposed to an original story, there is still much to enjoy and dissect here.

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August 8th, 2010

Easy Living (1937)

Easy Living Easy Living Easy Living
Cloudy with a chance of fur coats // Her hat is ruined // Ball offers to buy her a new one

Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living explores the age-old question, “Who am I?,” through a series of would-be catastrophes predicated on a classic plot device:  mistaken identity.  Heroine Mary Smith (Jean Arthur) is an ordinary girl who experiences the extraordinary, when a fur coat drops from the sky and lands on her head.  The coat belongs to the wife of financier J.B. Ball (Edward Arnold), “the Bull of Broad Street.”  At $58,00 US (approximately $900,000 by today’s standards), the coat represents the sort of extravagance that precipitated Black Tuesday, and one that Ball is loathe to countenance. When triumphantly told by his wife that it cannot be returned, he tosses it off the roof to teach her a lesson.

In a random act of kindness, Ball offers to buy Mary a new hat to replace the one damaged by the fall of the coat.  The boutique staff assumes that she is his mistress, setting into motion a series of events that will change both the lives of Mary, Ball, as well as that of Ball’s dilettante son, John (Ray Milland).

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