A workplace practical joke goes awry when an office clerk (Dick Powell), believing he has won a $25,000 prize, takes his girlfriend (Ellen Drew) on an extravagant Christmas shopping spree…in the middle of July! When the truth comes out, he’s not prepared for the consequences. Read More »
Barbara Stanwyck sizzles, Henry Fonda bumbles, and Preston Sturges runs riot in one of the all-time great screwballs, a pitch-perfect blend of comic zing and swoonworthy romance. Aboard a cruise liner sailing up the coast of South America, Stanwyck’s conniving card sharp sets her sights on Fonda’s nerdy snake researcher, who happens to be the heir to a brewery fortune. But when the con artist falls for her mark, her grift becomes a game of hearts—and she is determined to win it all. One in a string of matchless comedic marvels that Sturges wrote, directed, and produced as part of a dazzling 1940s run, this gender-flipped battle-of-wits farce is perhaps his most emotionally satisfying work, tempering its sparkling wit with a streak of tender poignancy supplied by the sensational Stanwyck at her peak. Read More »
One of Paramount’s funniest films of the forties is this Preston Sturges screwball classic staring Betty Hutton (The Greatest Show on Earth) and Eddie Bracken (Hail the Conquering Hero.) Hutton is Trudy Kockenlocker, a small-town gal who feels it is her patriotic duty to dance the night away with soldiers who are headed oversees. Read More »
In the winter of 1868, Eben Frost (William Demarest) goes to a Boston pawnshop and redeems a silver medal, inscribed to “Dr. W.T.G. Morton, the Benefactor of Mankind, with the Gratitude of Humanity.” Frost drives to a country farmhouse and gives the medal to Morton’s widow, Elizabeth Morton (Betty Field) who explains to her daughter, Betty (Donivee Lee), that Frost was the first person given anesthesia by her father, Boston dentist Dr. W.T.G. Morton (Joel McCrea.) Read More »
Max Ophuls’ first American film. Fired by Howard Hughes after falling behind schedule, Ophuls was replaced by Preston Sturges, who had written the script. Sturges was then fired also. Over the next four years, Hughes tinkered incessantly with the project, and an array of writers and directors had their way with it. Finally editor Don Siegel attempted to put the thing together and make sense of it.
So the movie is messy but with stunning sequences. Most sources credit Mel Ferrer with directing the ending, but it’s clear he only shot the leaden coda. The actual climax is a beautifully orchestrated, stunningly lit stalking scene with the principal characters hunting each other through a misty wood. Absolutely beautiful, and if this is what made Ophuls go over schedule, as seems likely, he was right to take the time to get it looking this amazing. Read More »