Shades of Hepburn and Lombard

So who was the queen of screwball comedy, Carole Lombard or Katharine Hepburn? In my limited experience, it could be either. Nobody could question Lombard’s credentials in such films as My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred and Twentieth Century. After recently viewing Hepburn in Bringing up Baby and now The Philadelphia Story, I’m not making any definitive statement. Truthfully, I’m just happy that we have works by these talented ladies to enjoy.
There is nothing I enjoy more than a good screwball film. Slamming doors, verbal wars, false identities and a cast slowly losing their minds are things that always amuse me, but they’re difficult to find. The milieu that produced the classic Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Carole Lombard collaborations has long since disappeared; taking manners, decorum and elegance, with it.The classics did everything better, but for a brief period in the 1990s Hollywood made some fine approximations. It is a pleasure to watch Meg Ryan in Addicted to Love, putting her unique screwball spin on the three Rs; rejection, romance and retribution. If only Michelle Pfeiffer, her big screen sister in love and laughter, could have found a similar screenplay worthy of her brilliance.Michelle was the Katharine Hepburn to Ryan’s Carole Lombard, the kind of fast-talking dame Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges would have dreamed of. It’s apples and oranges, but Meg was far more successful at evoking the hair-brained antics of a genuine screwball heroine of the 1930s and ’40s. A case of Ryan showing off? Maybe. But when you’ve got the chops, why not flaunt them.

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20 Comments

Filed under Blogathon, Feature

20 responses to “Shades of Hepburn and Lombard

  1. Great post. I really need to find and watch these older Screwball comedies.

  2. On the theme of romance and retribution, Barbara Stanwyck is Maggie’s illustrious predecessor…

  3. I would have participated in the blogathon but I haven’t been writing too much or I find it difficult to keep updated as much as I’d like to do I wouldn’t want to disappoint..but I agree about how the classic knew how to get it right from their charming performances to the music. It just blended so well which is why my heart often flutters hearing and watching such movies.

    I can’t say I have seen very much of these two ladies in particular but Katherine Hepburn was the eccentric charmer in Bringing up Baby and The Philadelphia Story which I really enjoyed. ☺

  4. Great post 🙂 If you are looking for some more great titles, I have two. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and The Palm Beach Story both directed and written by Preston Sturges. Keep up the great work as always 🙂 P.S would you ever team up the David Thewlis character from Mike Leigh’s film Naked with Meg Ryan’s Maggie character from Addicted to Love? 🙂

    • Oh yes, I would definitely pair up the David Thewlis character from Naked with Meg Ryan’s Maggie. Johnny is a fantastic character, one I hadn’t thought about for years until now, since Naked is an almost forgotten corner of Leigh’s filmography and hardly ever mentioned by anybody. David and Meg were so versatile, they was no limit to what they could have done!
      Thanks as always for your comment and the tip on Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and The Palm Beach Story!

  5. I need to stock up on my screwball comedy knowledge, thanks for the lesson.

  6. Which other screwball comedies would you recommend?

    • Hi Vinnie. Most of the classic screwball comedies are from the 1930s and 40s. Films like The Awful Truth, Bringing up Baby and The Philadelphia Story. I’m not sure how easy they are to get hold of, and from reading your reviews am I right in thinking you’re not much of a fan of old black and white films? What’s up Doc? from 1972 is great, but the classics are hard to beat!

      • On the contrary, I love me some black and white movies. I just haven’t seen that many of late, which probably accounts for the lack of reviews on them. But I’ll watch anything really. I’ve noted down the classics you speak of and will attempt to seek them out. Thanks for the recommendations Paul.

  7. Hi Paul
    I like your comparison between the silver screen actresses to the more recent ones. Now, that you have brought my thoughts along these lines, I think I would have to nominate Sandra Bullock as a contender too LOL
    Thanks, I enjoyed reading your post. 😊

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