Sayonara Screwball!

Oh Tracy Lord…what a dame. Not only was she the wittiest, wiliest woman in all of Pennsylvania, but she could perform a perfect swan dive and, as The Philadelphia Story begins, seems to have created the perfect fiancé for herself through sheer force of will.Last week I really needed a good laugh and Katharine Hepburn provided (again). Today apropos of nothing I thought of Meg Ryan’s loony clowning in Addicted to Love and smiled. Silliness is so underrated on screen and in life.Sometimes the circumstances of my current life, the mixture of depression, underemployment and underachievement fuel my creativity. And then there are other times.The well runs dry, I don’t believe in myself, I don’t actually believe in these films either, these screwball comedies. Well, I don’t believe in the mechanics of them, but I do believe in the spirit of them.Nothing beats the classic era screwball comedies in general and Bringing Up Baby in particular. The Palm Beach Story begins at such a furious pace that you cannot take your eyes off the screen, as sexy Claudette Colbert slips out of her boring marriage to have fun with the Sausage King on a train heading south.Although the golden age of screwball comedy was the 1930s and ’40s, the genre never really went away.The ’80s and especially the ’90s, were an era of new screwball comedies that brought the the lightning-fast dialogue, pratfalls and double-takes of Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges to contemporary settings; think Addicted to Love, One Fine Day, Overboard and whatever the Coen brothers were cooking.Objectively speaking, One Fine Day is no His Girl Friday, but then neither is Addicted to Love, which is fine, but sometimes gets a little too loopy for its own good. One Fine Day is funny and heartwarming, considered strictly on their merits as screwball homages however, Addicted to Love is the better film.The practice of romantic films taking their titles from classic love songs and contemporary pop music has thankfully tailed off since Meg Ryan’s heyday, so it does make me smile that Addicted to Love is named after a Robert Palmer song, while One Fine Day was titled after a track by The Chiffons.As all great screwball couples must, Clooney and Pfeiffer tumble into instant dislike, before turning into a cooing couple. Their work here defines romantic chemistry, which is quite a feat since they don’t actually lock lips until the last few minutes of the film. Ah well, that’s why we have scene selection on DVDs.Michelle works like the muses in Greek mythology, rendering me incapable of writing a coherent review of One Fine Day. When I’m in a bad mood, this is the film I turn to. Is it a Screwball comedy? chick-flick? rom-com? Who cares? It makes me completely and utterly happy. What else needs to be said?


Filed under Retrospective