Saturday, July 23, 2011

CHRISTMAS IN JULY | 1940 | It's so funny.

I may write more on Christmas in July later, but I might not.  In some ways it seems silly, because the subtext of anything I'd write is fully covered in this guy's YouTube review; but, then, I started this damn blog so I should make an effort.  Time will tell if I do or not.

Regardless of whether I revisit this film and share some of my sparklingly brilliant thoughts on how it fits in the Screwball/Rom-Com family tree, you should watch it.  It's only 67 minutes long, and someone has it posted the whole thing on YouTube.  So, watch it.  It's funny.  So funny.

Released:  1940
Writer/Director:  Preston Sturges
Producer:  Paul Jones, Buddy G. DeSylva
Leads:  Dick Powell, Ellen Drew, William Demarest
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Read more about CHRISTMAS IN JULY @ Wikipedia.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE | Variety Review | December 31, 1937

Below is the crazy accurate 1937 Variety review of BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE (entire review below and link to review on Variety site at end of post).
Par's talker remake of the Alfred Savoir farce [in the American version by Charlton Andrews], a thin piece basically, isn't given much more heft under the Lubitsch touch or with the celluloid trimmings. It's a light and sometimes bright entertainment, but gets a bit tiresome, despite its comparatively moderate running time. 
Once the premise is established that Claudette Colbert wants to deflate the multi-millionaire Gary Cooper, who buys his wives - seven of 'em prior to her - as he buys a fancy motor car, making pre-marriage settlements with them, etc, it then becomes an always obvious farce. 
Atmosphere is rich and French. It starts on the Riviera and wanders over the European map, focusing finally in Paris. The Brackett-Wilder scripting is ofttimes bright but illogical and fragile. 
Edward Everett Horton is more or less of a bit as her father and the rest are casual. David Niven has a mild opportunity and Herman Bing, with his characteristic style, is another who makes his rather light chore stand up.

As much as I love Lubitsch and Wilder, I don't disagree with a single thing in this review.  Watching movies that are more than 70 years old, I do sometimes wonder how much I'm missing, not getting, or put off by schtick that landed solidly with audiences back in the day.  It's comforting to think I might have been getting it all, all along.

It occurs to me that as much as I love the genre, I have been keeping the films at a distance.  I have been marveling at their modernity the way one is impressed with a dog taught to dance the meringue.  Maybe I was confusing old with old-fashioned, but what I had been identifying as "surprisingly modern" is actually "human," and the humanity evident in these films is what makes them timeless.

That the Variety reviewer saw the same weaknesses in Bluebeard's Eighth Wife that I did makes me realize I don't have to wear archival gloves on my brain when discussing these films.  Coming at the things full-force won't hurt my precious pet genre, and it might actually do me some good to use my fucking brain.  Now, don't get your hopes up.  My new resolution to let grey matter run free may not result in Seabiscuit level discourse, but I'm pretty confident I can pull up something on par with Mr. Ed.  In other words, don't look for a magnificent or impressive steed, but you can safely expect something mildly amusing (as far as free entertainment goes).

Variety Review of BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE | December 31, 1937

Screwball Study on BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE | September 1, 2010