Exceptional Screwball

It’s taken me a little longer than I expected to get back to my year in movies posts, but no worries, the movies I wanted to post about are old ones, anyway. To wit, two great screwball comedies.

The More the Merrier, from 1943, is set in Washington, DC during a wartime housing shortage that forces strangers to share apartments and get to know each other better than they had planned.

This is a film whose title always made me picture something chirpy and syrupy. Instead, it’s a just about perfect romantic comedy, smart and full of clever dialogue delivered with immaculate rhythm and understatement. Jean Arthur is absolutely charming as always, and Joel McCrea gives my favorite of his performances, shy, deadpan and very funny. It also has one of the steamiest movie kisses ever:

The 1934 film Kiss and Make Up, on the other hand, leans less toward smart sophistication and more toward zany absurdity. Watching the first fifteen minutes or so, I was thinking, This movie is preposterous. After about twenty minutes I thought, Oh, I get it – It is utterly preposterous. It’s like reading Kafka, you don’t try to understand it rationally, you just let it flow over you. The corned beef and cabbage, the rabbits, all of it. In the end, I came away completely satisfied, if a little dizzy. It also purports to have a message about society’s overemphasis on beauty, if you like a moral in your movies.

Starring Cary Grant before he was suave, Helen Mack as his hapless secretary, and Edward Everett Norton as the likeable third wheel.

You can watch the entire movie online on the Edward Everett Norton myspace page.

~ by lolarusa on February 8, 2013.

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