Cary and Irene (THE AWFUL TRUTH)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love Crazy (1941)

Delightful comedy with William Powell and Myrna Loy teaming up yet again as Steve and Susan Ireland, a married couple about to celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary by re-enacting their first date. When Susan's meddling mother interrupts and injures herself. Steve is left to take care of her and when he meets an old flame in the elevator--Susan's mother takes the opportunity to break-up their marriage. She convinces Susan that Steve is cheating on her-Susan files for divorce. Steve has one solution to save his marriage...Pretend he is insane. And that premise allows Powell to have a field day by acting crazy. He and Myrna once again are pure magic and they are so comfortable performing onscreen together, that we the audience are by the same token, comfortable with them.

Love Crazy is a pure delight. One of Powell's great scenes has him in drag, pretending to be his own sister. It's hilarious. Loy gets to shine in several scenes as well. Gail Patrick is excellent as Isobel, Steve's old flame. And Jack Carson is a treat every time he appears onscreen. He plays a neighbor who is infatuated with Loy's character. He always introduces himself the same way....Willoughby. Ward Willoughby. It's funny how he says it, you have to be there to realize how funny it is. One of my favorite comedies.
Steve: She's married now - got a husband.
Susan Ireland: Yeah? Whose husband has she got?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Thin Man movie series

Since Myrna Loy is my classic movie goddess of the month and The Thin Man series is one of my favorite film series of all time, I decided to post brief reviews of all 6 wonderful films.

THE THIN MAN (1934) The one that started it all and the very best one, just slightly ahead of After the Thin Man. We are introduced to the fun loving couple Nick and Nora Charles at a bar and we're off. William Powell is Nick, a recently retired private detective who adores his wife Nora (Loy), his very rich wife. Well when a missing person case falls into his lap, Nick reluctanly takes the job, much to the delight of Nora. The wisecracks fly fast and furious, and we are introduced to some of the most unsavory characters that we would not want to meet in real life. Powell and Loy are the perfect couple and play off each other extremely well. And let's not forget their dog, Asta, who is a born scene stealer. They would pair up for 5 more Thin Man films and 13 films in all. I think this one is their very best.

AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936) Delightful follow-up that picks up immediately after the events of the original Thin Man movie. Returning from New York by train to their home in San Francisco, the couple don't have a minute to relax before they are summoned for dinner at Nora's snobby family. A case involving Nora's cousin, who husband has disappeared and then found later murdered. Nora's cousin is the prime suspect and Nick must use all his skills to prove otherwise. A rare sequel that is just as good as it's predecessor. Powell and Loy remain excellent as usual and look for an early performance by Jimmy Stewart. One that is a little off beat for him. This film is a lot longer than the previous Thin Man film, but it never drags.

ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939) The Charles' are back in New York with Asta and a new arrival: Nicky Jr. They are invited by Colonel MacFey to spend the weekend at his house in Long Island as he desperately wants Charles to help him out. It seems he has been receiving threats from Phil Church, a very shady character. When McFey is killed Church seems to be the obvious suspect but Nick suspects there is something far more complicated going on. McFey's housekeeper, daughter and various hangers-on may all have had an interest in seeking the old man's demise. Another solid entry in the series, while not on par with the first two films, but still very entertaining.

THE SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN (1941) Fun and games and murder at the horse track as Nick and Nora become involved with a dead jockey, organized crime, and corruption. Look for Donna Reed in an early role. I enjoyed this one a little more than Another Thin Man, as it is a lot more fun. Usually series start to falter when they reach their fourth entry, but The Thin Man series was getting it second wind.

THE THIN MAN GOES HOME (1944) Nick and Nora head to Nick's hometown of Sycamore Springs to spend some time with his parents. His father, a prominent local physician, was always a bit disappointed with Nick's choice of profession in particular and his lifestyle in general. With Nick's arrival however the towns folk, including several of the local criminal element, are convinced that he must be there on a case despite his protestations that he's just there for rest and relaxation. When someone is shot dead on his doorstep however, Nick finds himself working on a case whether he wants to or not. A solid entry.

THE SONG OF THE THIN MAN (1947) The final Thin Man movie is a light comdey mystery that lets Nick and Nora bow out gracefully. Nick and Nora Charles are attending a charity benefit aboard a gambling ship. The festive atmosphere conceals many tensions among those connected with the ship, with most of the friction centering around Tommy Drake, its unpopular, spiteful band-leader. When he is murdered later that night, suspicion falls on Phil Brant, who had argued with Drake earlier in the evening. When Phil and his wife seek help from Nick and Nora, Nick refuses to get involved. But when shots are fired outside his own apartment, Nick begins to investigate, and he soon finds himself in a confusing case with numerous suspects. Look for Gloria Grahame and Dean Stockwell as a teen Nick Jr.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Odd Couple (1968)

The Odd Couple(1968). Comedy. Written by Neil Simon, based on his play of the same name, directed by Gene Saks. Cast: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Simon based the story on the observations of Mel Brooks living with a friend after his first divorce.

After TV news writer Felix Ungar's, marriage falls apart he becomes depressed and wants to end it all by trying to jumping out a window. But he ends up pulling a muscle in his back. Limping back onto the street he tries to get drunk and ends up hurting his neck. Finally, he stands on a bridge, thinking about jumping into the river. Instead... he finds his way to the weekly poker game in progress at his best friends, Oscar Madison's, apartment. Felix accepts an invitation to live with Oscar, but his hypochondria and cleanliness drives Oscar nuts, and the two men are soon arguing over everything.
In one of my favorite weekly poker game scenes:
Oscar Madison: I'm in for a quarter.
Murray: Aren't you going to look at your cards first?
Oscar Madison: What for? I'm gonna bluff anyway. Who gets a Pepsi?
Murray: I get a Pepsi.
Oscar Madison: My friend Murray the policeman gets a warm Pepsi.
Roy: You still didn't fix the refrigerator. It's been two weeks now - no wonder it stinks in here.
Oscar Madison: Temper, temper. If I wanted nagging, I'd go back with my wife. I'm out. Who wants food?
Murray: What do you got?
Oscar Madison: I got, uh, brown sandwiches and, uh, green sandwiches. Which one do you want?
Murray: What's the green?
Oscar Madison: It's either very new cheese or very old meat.
Murray: I'll take the brown.
[Oscar hands Murray a sandwich which Murray starts wolfing down]
Roy: Are you crazy? You're not going to eat that, are you?
Murray: I'm hungry!
Roy: His refrigerator has been out of order for two weeks now. I saw milk standing in there that wasn't even in the bottle!
Oscar Madison: What are you, some kind of health nut? Eat, Murray, eat!

Soon, Oscar suggests they double-date Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon, two quirky English sisters who also live in the building, and Felix offers to cook dinner. The evening quickly ends when Felix burns the meatloaf, and he breaks down into tears which causes sympathetic tears from the Pigeon sisters. Enraged, Oscar throws Felix out. After Felix moves out, their friends become angry with Oscar's mistreatment of Felix. They begin to search for Felix, he suddenly reappears and announces that he is moving in with Cecily and Gwendolyn. After Felix has left their weekly poker game, they are surprised when Oscar gets after them for making a mess in the apartment..

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, were perfect for this film. Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987). Also reminds me a little of the movie, Odd Couple.

Fun Fact:

The second pairing out of ten movies of actors and great friends Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

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Following the success of their first pairing, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, Cary Grant and Myrna Loy re-team for the highly entertaining comedy, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Fed up with city living, New Yorkers Jim and Muriel Blandings find a house in serene Connecticut. Trouble is the house needs a lot of work and the family goes through all kinds of mishaps and failures trying to turn it into their dream home. Grant and Loy once again make for a wonderful pair, with Grant as Jim being constantly frustrated at all the problems the house seems to provide, not too mention the rising costs of repairs. And Jim also has to deal with family friend Bill Cole (all charm by Melvyn Douglas) who also use to be Muriel's ex-boyfriend.
And Jim is also dealing with a deadline he has to make for his ad agency. It's their maid Gussie (a terrific Louise Beavers) who comes up with the new campaign slogan. Mr. Blandings is a very good movie with excellent performances from the entire cast. It will remind you of the 1942 film, George Washington Slept Here with Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. If you enjoyed that film, then you will like this one as well. Pay close attention to the classic scene where Muriel is trying to show the painters what colors to use. One of the best classic comedies of yesteryear.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Preston Sturges: facts and trivia

Interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, USA.
Appears as a character in John Kessel's story "The Miracle of Ivar Avenue".
He was working on his memoirs when he died. Incredibly, the working title of the book was "The Events Leading Up To My Death."
When he was at his peak at Paramount in the mid-1940s, he was not only the highest paid screenwriter but he was one of the highest paid people in America.
He once owned a nightclub on the Sunset Strip called The Players. He met and later married his fourth wife, Sandy Sturges (born Sandy Nagle) in the place. She did not know he was the owner when they met, thinking he was just another employee.
Great-grandfather of Jack Enzo Kelly, born September 6 2001, to 'Shannon Sturges' and Michael Kelley.
Grandfather of actress Shannon Sturges.
He was a womanizer who struggled in most of his serious sexual relationships. Part of his unwillingness for monogamy was that his mother often held several affairs with several different men and women at one time while she was raising him.
Was voted the 28th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly. With only 13 films to his credit, he directed even fewer movies than did Stanley Kubrick.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890-1945". Pages 1085-1090. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
Son Solomon Sturges IV born June, 1941. Son Preston Sturges Jr. born in 1953. Son Thomas Preston Sturges born June 22, 1956.
In the talkies movie era he was the first great writer to became a director.
Sold Paramount the rights to The Great McGinty (1940) for one dollar with the agreement that he direct the film.
His mother, Mary Desti, was for a time the lover of the notorious Aleister Crowley, whose dislike for the young Sturges was heartily reciprocated, and they each came in for harsh criticism in the other's memoirs.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Poll started...

Since Preston Sturges is the featured director over on me and Noiree's page, The Directors, I figured he would be the perfect topic for the new poll here on Screwball Cinema. What is your favorite of Preston's films as a director. Because he also wrote several classic comedies, but we will focus on the ones he directed. The choices are: The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek, Hail The Conquering Hero and Christmas In July. The poll will run for the month of April. I've already made my choice. Hope everyone takes a minute to pick one too.

March poll results....Irene Dunne is the winner

Last month's poll question was who do you think was Cary Grant's best partner in screwball films. The clear choice was Irene Dunne, who captured 59% of the 27 votes. That was truly amazing. I know I voted for her, she and Grant were magic in The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife. Congratulations to Irene. Coming in a distant second was Katherine Hepburn (who teamed with Grant for Holiday, The Philadelphia Story and Bringing Up Baby) with 18%. Next was Rosalind Russell (His Girl Friday) with 14%. And finally Myrna Loy (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer) with only 7%.

I will post a new poll before the day is out. Thanks to everyone who voted.