Screwball comedies

We’re getting prepared for our screening of Frank Capra’s lighthearted and endearing It Happened One Night, this Saturday. It’s part of our ongoing series for the CMPCA in Brighton, at St Michael’s Church Hall. There are a few tickets left, so for full details, please see our main website.

In the meantime, we’ve picked out five of our favourite screwball comedies (aside from It Happened One Night), to get you all in the mood:

 

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Frank Capra, the director of It Happened One Night hit gold with this dark, but delightfully silly screwball comedy featuring Cary Grant. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who discovers a corpse hidden in window box at the house of his two sweet, harmless aunts…

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

This classic is bring rereleased in cinemas by the BFI at the moment, so do look out for screenings of it locally. George Cukor’s sparkling film is regarded as one of the best examples of the popular ‘comedy of remarriage’ – a common theme from the ‘production code era, when depictions of extramarital affairs were prohibited – a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry.

Top Hat (1935)

Probably the best known work to come from the dance partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this musical has some some rather fun and dazzling set pieces. Irving Berlin wrote the music, with many of the songs now regarded as classics (such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’).

Design for Living (1933)

Ernst Lubitsch is the director most closely linked to the Screwball genre, and this quirky film is possibly his finest. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Noel Coward (who famously said “I’m told that there are three of my original lines left in the film—such original ones as ‘Pass the mustard'”), the film is surprising to today’s audience: it is much more racy than you would expect! It was made pre-code, and features a woman (Miriam Hopkins) leaving her husband for two  men (Frederic March and Gary Cooper).

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Although not a hit on release (it did moderately well, but nothing to write home about), Howard Hawks’s Bringing up Baby is now widely regarded as a classic, and features on the AFI’s ‘100 Greatest American Films of All Time’ list. Katherine Hepburn is delightfully aggravating as a dotty heiress who turns the life of Cary Grant’s palaeontologist upside down.

 

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