Screwball Comedy

[5.5] Cary Grant made his big-screen debut as a singing javelin thrower in this romantic comedy about adulterous lovers (Thelma Todd and Roland Young) who go to great lengths to hide their secret affair from the woman’s husband (Grant). The cover-up involves hiring a woman (Lili Damita) to play the other man’s wife and all of the characters taking a trip to Venice together. This Is …

[7.5] Frances McDormand and Amy Adams star in this ebullient female bonding flick set in the early 1930s, about a recently fired governess (McDormand) who ingratiates herself into the employment of a ditzy actress (Adams). This film, particularly in its first half, is a serendipitous comedy full of witty dialogue and a dash of slapstick. It moves quickly and I was completely caught up in its spell. When …

[6.5] This is a serendipitous romantic comedy pairing frequent costars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. Gable plays a reporter who runs away with a press-weary heiress, hoping to snag the headline of the century. But naturally, he falls in love with the dame, which would be complicated enough without being mistaken for spies. Gable and Crawford are having fun and it shows — especially when …

[5.5] A floundering Broadway director ingratiates himself to an old flame in order to rekindle his career in Twentieth Century. This film is often regarded as the grandfather of screwball comedy, one of my favorite genres. John Barrymore and Carole Lombard give remarkably madcap performances as the theatre director and his ingenue, but these aren’t charming or likeable characters. I don’t always have to like …

[7.0] The ever-versatile Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, Bringing Up Baby) returns to screwball comedy with Monkey Business, pairing Cary Grant with Ginger Rogers as a couple whose marriage is put to the test when they take a ‘fountain of youth’ potion that regresses them to teenaged states of mind. Grant and Rogers have definite chemistry and do hilariously well here, especially when they begin behaving …

[3.0] Sandra Bullock gives her most offputting and peculiar performance in All About Steve, a film that sets the feminist movement back about fifty years. Bullock plays Mary, a woman in her forties who lives with her parents, tries to make a meager living creating crossword puzzles for her local paper, and who inexplicably falls head-over-heals obssessively in love with a blind date (adorable Bradley …

[6.0] A pleasant screwball comedy from the versatile George Stevens. Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and Charles Coburn play mismatched roommates during a housing shortage. Scenes where the three narrowly avoid collision while getting ready in the morning will remind you of a ‘Three Stooges’ skit. Coburn took home a supporting actor Oscar for his avuncular role. His costars were nominated, as were Stevens and the …

[7.0] If you’re a fan of the ill-mannered British TV show, you’ll probably enjoy Eddy and Patsy’s first big bloody screen adventure. Me? I think it’s one of the funniest TV shows EVER made, so I drove two hours to the nearest theater playing the AbFab movie. As soon as Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley pop on-screen as their boozy, sycophantic characters, I settled in and …

[6.5] Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker star as the divorced parents of a seven-year-old girl who is trying to get the two back together again. It may sound cloying, but the film uses its device exclusively for screwball comedic effect. Memorable sequences include Flynn’s attempt to have dinner with two women at two different tables at the same time, Christmas Eve with two sparring Santas, …

[6.5] It’s surprising Errol Flynn didn’t make more screwball comedies, because he’s completely at home in this ‘who’s duping who’ comedy, outrunning the guard dogs, shaking hands with people in side-by-side moving cars, and carrying on romantic telephone conversations with two women simultaneously. In Four’s a Crowd, he’s teamed with his regular leading lady Olivia de Havilland, as well as Rosalind Russell (in a newspaper …

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