Cary and Irene (THE AWFUL TRUTH)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It Happened One Night (1934)

It Happened One Night (1934) screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra. Cast: Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
Spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews, runs away from her millionaire father Alexander's yacht, when he takes her against her will after he learns she eloped with King Westley, a playboy pilot whom Andrews believes to be a gold digger. She jumps on the first bus headed for New York where she meets Peter Warne, a reporter who just lost his job. Ellie's suitcase is stolen and Peter, tries to catch the thief. Ellie misses the bus after getting off for a minute to freshen up, when she returns, she finds Peter standing there waiting to show her a newspaper article about her missing. To save money Peter and Ellie spend the night in a run down cabin where they pretend to be married . Peter blackmails her into giving him her story, and that if she does not cooperate, he will call her father. Peter strings a rope between their beds and hangs up a blanket, which he calls "The Walls of Jericho." The next morning, when the wake up they hear her father's detectives searching the other cabins. My favorite part of the movie is when they trick the detectives by putting on an hilarious act of a quarreling married couple. Soon Peter and Ellie are back on the bus. they soon learn, Andrews has offered a $10,000 reward for any information on his daughter. Oscar Shapeley, a shady looking passenger on the bus, also reads about the reward and recognizes Ellie. He then offers to split the reward with Peter, but changes his mind and threatens to go to Ellie's father himself. Peter comes up with a plan to convince Shapeley that he is a gangster who has kidnapped Ellie, which scares Oscar and he quickly runs off. Worried that Shapeley has gone to the police. Peter and Ellie leave the bus on a hilarious adventure back home....
Will Peter get his job back?
Will Ellie reunite with her new husband ?

Friz Freleng's said that this was one of his favorite films, and that it had at least three things which the "Bugs Bunny" character was based. The way Peter Warne (Clark Gable) was eating carrots and talking quickly. An imaginary character mentioned to frighten Oscar Shapely named "Bugs Dooley." Other mentions of "Looney Tunes" characters in the film Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) and King Westley (Jameson Thomas) being the inspirations for Yosemite Sam and Pepé LePew.
Click to view movie trailer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Theodora Goes Wild (1936) is a pure delight

Screwball comedies are probably my favorite type of movies. I just love the zany situations the characters find themselves in. Recently I just watched the 1936 classic Theodora Goes Wild with a marvelous Irene Dunne.

Dunne plays small town girl Theodora Lynn, who lives with her two aunts in the quaint little town of Lynnfield. The town is small and pretty much ran by the women who likes to keep things simple and nice and decent. The women's literary club are at constant odds with the local newspaper who likes to run articles about the author Caroline Adams, who is a famous writer, known for her scandalous stories. The catch is Theodora is actually Caroline and lives a double life, keeping her family and townspeople in the dark about her other half. Theodora visits her uncle in New York, who has been written off by the family because of his own reputation. She uses that as her cover to see her publisher, who constantly tries to convince her to meet her adoring fans. Theodora holds her ground and ends up meeting Michael Grant, who is her book jacket illustrator, played by the always entertaining Melvyn Douglas. Once Theodora leaves New York to head back home, Michael follows her and makes life for her very complicated. The nosy townspeople wonder what he's doing in town and Theodora quickly puts him to work around her family's house. Of course things become harder and harder to keep secret especially when Theodora falls in love in Michael. There are a few dramatic scenes in this movie, like when Theodora goes off on the other women in town about her relationship with Michael. And a subplot involving a friend of Theodora who is run off from town because of the man she chose to marry, and eventually have a child with. But there are lots of moments of screwball hilarity that will have you busting a gut. Irene Dunne, one of my favorites, excels in these types of roles and she hits the mark again with this one. Her natural flair for comedy is most evident in her scenes with Douglas. They make quite the charming pair.

Theodora Goes Wild is one of the best screwball comedies ever made. And Dunne proves she is definitely one of the queens of comedy. I would rank her right up there with Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy. I enjoyed this film from start to finish. I loved the dog that Douglas's character picked up on the way into town and named him Jake...and the bond the two formed. I loved Theodora's two aunts, who were at first like all the other women in town, wound too tight and didn't care for any signs of questionable characters. But once they found out that their niece was the scandalous novelist, they didn't hesitate to have Theodora's back and slam anyone else for thinking bad of her. I also loved the newspaper editor who liked irking the Women's Literary Group just for the heck of it. All so many little things and other characters made this a highly entertaining movie. One I could watch over and over. Theodora Goes Wild will definitely make those Wednesdays much more bearable.

His Girl Friday - My Favorite Movie Of All Time

I figured that since His Girl Friday is my favorite movie of all time, I need to write a blog about it and explain why. I saw it for the first time when I was 12 years old and it immediately struck me as the best movie I had seen in my young life at the time. It would keep with me over the years and stay as my favorite movie, withstanding the new releases with all their hi tech fancy stuff like the Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones, and others. For me, there is nothing better than His Girl Friday and watching Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell play off each other.

Cary Grant is never better as newspaper editor Walter Burns, who is about to lose his ace reporter and ex-wife Hildy Johnson (a superb performance by Rosalind Russell) to marriage to an insurance man (Ralph Bellamy). Just so happens a major news story breaks as convicted murderer Earl Williams, who is about to be put to death, escapes from custody. Walter convinces Hildy to take this last job assignment and he will sign a nice big check for an insurance policy for the soon to be wed couple. During her investigation, Hildy manages to track down Williams and tries to keep him safe from the police and the mayor. A wonderful mix of comedy and some drama make this my all time favorite film. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell make a terrific dream team. The one liners fly fast and furious, expertly handled by the entire cast. Great direction by the legendary Howard Hawks.

A sampling of the fast paced dialogue that has amazed me for over 27 years:

Walter Burns: Sorta wish you hadn't done that, Hildy.
Hildy Johnson: Done what?
Walter Burns: Divorced me. Makes a fella lose all faith in himself. Gives him a... almost gives him a feeling he wasn't wanted.
Hildy Johnson: Oh, now look, junior... that's what divorces are FOR!

Wilson, reporter: Any dope on how he escaped?
McCue, reporter: Maybe the sheriff let him out so Williams could vote for him.

Hildy Johnson: [speaking to Walter on the phone] Now, get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee: There ain't going to be any interview and there ain't going to be any story. And that certified check of yours is leaving with me in twenty minutes. I wouldn't cover the burning of Rome for you if they were just lighting it up. If I ever lay my two eyes on you again, I'm gonna walk right up to you and hammer on that monkeyed skull of yours 'til it rings like a Chinese gong!

Louis: What's the matter, Hildy?
Hildy Johnson: Don't give me that innocent stuff! What did you pull on Mr. Baldwin THIS time?
Louis: Who, me?
Hildy Johnson: Yes, you and that albino of yours!
Louis: You talkin' about Evangeline?
Hildy Johnson: None other!
Louis: She ain't no albino.
Hildy Johnson: She'll do 'till one comes along!
Louis: She was born right here in this country!

So to wrap this blog up let me just say that His Girl Friday is THE movie for me. Cary Grant's other classic movie, Bringing Up Baby is a close second, but His Girl Friday holds that special place in my heart. To all classic movie lovers out there, if by some small chance you have never seen this movie, take time to watch it somewhere, somehow and I promise you will not regret it.

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Welcome To Screwball Cinema

Welcome everyone to this new blog called Screwball Cinema. Screwball comedies are my favorite type of movies, so this blog will be dedicated solely to this fun and entertaining genre. Covering all the classics and little known screwball gems that some people might not know about. We will also discuss the actors and actresses who contributed to this genre and excelled at it. I hope this will be one of the more interesting blogs out here.