Screwball Comedy

  • William A. Seiter – A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)

    William A. Seiter1941-1950ComedyRomanceScrewball ComedyUSA
    A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)
    A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)

    A New York bank clerk,Mollie Truesdale (Jean Arthur), in the late 1930s, finds that her cherished dream of making a 17-day all-expenses-paid bus trip to the Pacific Coast and back, isn’t all she thought it would be…until she reaches Oregon and a bucking broncho tosses a rodeo performer on top of her and knocks her flat. Duke Hudkins (John Wayne), by way of apology, shows her the sights of Fairfield, Oregon, and she misses her bus, quarrels with the bewildered Duke, hitchhikes across a lot of desert…and a romance is born.Read More »

  • Norman Z. McLeod – Topper (1937)

    1931-1940ClassicsComedyNorman Z. McLeodScrewball ComedyUSA

    Thorne Smith is a name one hardly ever hears these days, and that’s a shame. In the 1920s and early ’30s, he was the popular author of a genre-defining series of novels in which mortal men broke out of their humdrum lives to embark on comic-erotic, supernaturally tinged adventures in the company of an exciting woman (or women). The most popular of these, Topper, was filmed in 1937, three years after Smith’s death. (Smith’s novel The Passionate Witch also became the basis for a classic film comedy, I Married a Witch (1942), and later the TV series Bewitched.)Read More »

  • George Cukor – Holiday [Criterion] (1938) (HD)

    USA1931-1940ComedyGeorge CukorRomanceScrewball Comedy

    Free-thinking Johnny Case finds himself betrothed to a millionaire’s daughter. When her family, with the exception of black-sheep Linda and drunken Ned, want Johnny to settle a career in finance, he rebels, wishing instead to spend the early years of his life on “holiday.” With the help of his friends Nick and Susan Potter, he makes up his mind as to which is the better course, and who he’d rather take the leap with.Read More »

  • Preston Sturges – Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

    1941-1950ComedyPreston SturgesRomanceScrewball ComedyUSA

    A brilliant black comedy by Preston Sturges, developed from a script he had written as early as 1932 and tried in vain to get Fox, Universal and Paramount intrested in producing. The script’s early provinence must be the reason that it’s the only one of his four post-Paramount pictures to feature dialogue comparable to (and sometimes surpassing) that found in the eight great comedies he wrote and directed in 1940–44, as well as numerous comedies that he had scripted in 1930s. The studios’ reluctance to make the film at that time is indicative of why it became a critical and a box office failure: the morbid subject matter, combined with the recent suicide of actress Carole Landis (who was suspected of having an affair with Rex Harrison, who plays the lead here), simply drove audiences away from it and for decades gave it a reputation of a film maudit.Read More »

  • Hal Roach – The Housekeeper’s Daughter (1939)

    1931-1940ComedyCrimeHal RoachScrewball ComedyUSA

    A gangster’s moll runs home to mother, with reporters and amateur detectives hot on her tail. Cast: Joan Bennett, Adolphe Menjou, William Gargan, Victor Mature.Read More »

  • Gregory La Cava – Unfinished Business (1941)

    1941-1950ClassicsGregory La CavaRomanceScrewball ComedyUSA

    In Unfinished Business, a light romantic comedy directed by Gregory La Cava, Irene Dunne plays a young woman worried she’s “going to seed” after spending her life in small-town Messina Ohio caring for her sister and father and having no love or adventure for herself. After her sister marries, she spontaneously takes the train ride to New York she’s always fantasized about to seek a career as a singer. On the train she meets a womanizer (Preston Foster) who sweeps her off her feet and leaves her flat at the station. She marries on the rebound (Robert Montgomery) but remains torn between two lovers — who happen to be brothers.Read More »

  • W.S. Van Dyke – Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)

    1941-1950ComedyMysteryScrewball ComedyUSAW.S. Van Dyke

    High society sleuths Nick and Nora Charles run into a variety of shady characters while investigating a race-track murder.Read More »

  • Preston Sturges – The Sin of Harold Diddlebock (1947)

    1941-1950ComedyFantasyPreston SturgesScrewball ComedyUSA

    Also known as Mad Wednesday, this collaboration between silent comedy star Harold Lloyd and screwball comedy genius Preston Sturges was meant to be a splashy comeback for both. Unfortunately, it sank at the box office.

    The film starts with original footage from Lloyd’s 1925 classic The Freshman. Because of his success on the football field, Harold Diddlebock (Lloyd, who seems to have hardly changed in 22 years, – still sporting a straw hat, and horn rimmed glasses) is offered a job. Full of hope and promise, the former gridiron champ finds himself in a minor bookkeeping position, where he remains forgotten for the next 22 years, until he’s abruptly fired.Read More »

  • Richard Boleslawski – Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

    1931-1940ComedyRichard BoleslawskiRomanceScrewball Comedy

    The small-town prudes of Lynnfield are up in arms over ‘The Sinner,’ a sexy best-seller. They little suspect that author ‘Caroline Adams’ is really Theodora Lynn, scion of the town’s leading family. Michael Grant, devil-may-care book jacket illustrator, penetrates Theodora’s incognito and sets out to ‘free her’ from Lynnfield against her will. But Michael has a secret too, and gets a taste of his own medicine….Read More »

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