Archive for July 9th, 2014


by John Grant

US / 91 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir & Pr: Leo McCarey Scr: Viña Delmar Story: The Awful Truth (1924 play) by Arthur Richman Cine: Joseph Walker Cast: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, Alexander D’Arcy, Cecil Cunningham, Molly Lamont, Esther Dale, Joyce Compton, Robert Allen, Robert Warwick, Mary Forbes, Kathryn Curry, Miki Morita, Asta.

One of the first screwball comedies and among the best, this has at its core the romantic story of the realization by an unfaithful husband that, in point of fact, it’s his wife whom he loves the most, alongside her realization that, despite his infidelities, she loves right back. It’s based on a play that was earlier filmed as a silent in 1925, dir Paul Powell, with Agnes Ayres, Warner Baxter and Raymond Lowney, and as a now presumed lost talkie in 1929, dir Marshall Neilan, with Ina Claire, Henry Daniell and Paul Harvey. A later musical reworking was Let’s Do It Again (1953) dir Alexander Hall, with Jane Wyman, Ray Milland and Aldo Ray. I haven’t seen any of the other adaptations, alas, so I can’t draw any comparisons. (more…)

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© 2014 by James Clark

      I don’t usually refer to other critics in pursuing these film entries; but here it seems to make a lot of sense. The esteemed film observer, Jonathan Rosenbaum, produced (in 1982) a review of Amarcord (1973) that was both typically cogent and typically half-hearted. Seeing clearly that Fellini’s outreach about an Adriatic town in the 1930s comprises “community rituals and seasonal changes,” he describes the longings of many of its residents, for something more than that often charming inertia, as “dreams and other fantasies,” which is to say, a type of reflexive inertia veering away from reality. Smoothly disarming any traces of abrasiveness in this finding to be quite futile any challenge to mechanics and orthodoxy, the appreciation identifies the auteur’s evolution as an increased trusting of “imagination over ‘realistic’ observation.” “Fact and fancy are never far apart” in Fellini’s work. But that proposition does nothing to sustain that what he calls “fancy”—in its sense of the “more” that is remarkably new to history—could be a mature, serious form of consciousness. Rosenbaum concedes that “… it is precisely the domain of privacy that the town’s collective dream life feeds upon…” But I can’t help reading between the lines here that “the town’s collective dream life” amounts to some kind of sad little joke. He declares, “…the film charts the lot of provincial dwellers everywhere;” and with that the unwelcome whiff of sociology begins to fill the air. (more…)

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