The Sun Sets on a Summer of Screwball

I’ve been feeling a little listless lately, saying goodbye to summer makes me feel nostalgic, and if I’m nostalgic for anything, it’s for a time when I was more excited about the films I’ve been watching.The other night I had a dream that I was watching One Fine Day. Or maybe I dreamt that I was actually in One Fine Day. Walking down 6th Avenue to a New York movie retrospective at Radio City Music Hall; a double feature of Addicted to Love and One Fine Day.I’ve no idea why I can’t dream that I’m in something directed by Howard Hawks or maybe a Kurosawa film where I understand Japanese, but they were the two films paired together.Both these films move in Howard Hawks’s territory, but One Fine Day isn’t just Addicted to Love through a Hawksian lens; the emotional baggage of Clooney and Pfeiffer’s characters’ is transformed literally into physical baggage, in the shape of their children, demanding jobs, cell phones and transportation hassles.If it were exclusively a screwball comedy; playing its protagonists for laughs involving romantic misunderstandings and revolving doors, One Fine Day might have worked even better and yet meet cutes like this have been fuelling romantic comedies since time immemorial, and so we go along for the ride.Clooney’s performance as Jack Taylor is the closest he ever came to the elusive Cary Grant vibe. He’s effortlessly charismatic, with timing beyond the pale. The best part of the film though is Michelle, tailored like a classic Hawks dame and with enough panache for five movies. When I think of the Hawksian Woman and everything that means, Pfeiffer always come to mind.Jack Taylor refers to Melanie as ‘the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen’. She may have been, but she’s much more as well. The range of octaves her voice covers, the razor-sharp wit she exudes and those comic expressions would have made her the sovereign of studio-era screwballs.So far so Hawksian. Watching One Fine Day my mind couldn’t help from wandering off into the degrees of separation games I often play. George Clooney’s daughter was named Maggie, I imagine in honour of Addicted to Love‘s Maggie. Played by Meg Ryan of course.What does it say about the nineties that screwball comedy was briefly in fashion again? The spirit of Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck walking the streets of Manhattan, in the form of Ryan’s Maggie and Michelle’s Melanie.By contrast to Pfeiffer’s frazzled femme de tête, Ryan’s Maggie radiates “Hell hath no fury.” More of a tormentor than a temptress, her Bohemian biker chick is just the type of role that Michelle would have nailed. Catwoman resurrected?I’d be too tongue-tied to talk to Maggie if I ever bumped into her and I’m fairly sure she would treat me with complete and utter disdain. Still I can dream, with Maggie serving as a potent cocktail to sustain me during the dog days of August.



Filed under Retrospective

24 responses to “The Sun Sets on a Summer of Screwball

  1. Like the “potent cocktail” 🙂 perfect!

  2. These films will never get old. I totally agree that George was very much like Cary Grant in One Fine Day. My dream classic era stars for this one (had it been made in the 40’s) would be Cary as Jack and Jean Arthur as Maggie. Give me a time machine and let me make this film happen! 🙂

    I wish there was more screwball films being made today. I also wish there more good romantic dramas around too. It seems that (apart from a few films) the last days for quality romance films were the 90’s. 😦

  3. Wonderful piece. As usual I’m more familiar with the Michelle film than the Meg one – I love Meg also, but still haven’t seen some of her films. Whereas with Pfeiffer I’ve seen the vast majority, many of them several times over. I do believe I saw Addicted to Love on cable, hundreds of years ago, but I should give it a proper watch one day.

    I’m actually planning to write about Michelle’s performance in One Fine Day soon, so stay tuned!

    P.S. Wolf is up next in my Michelle series, so hope to post that this week sometime.

    • Thank you. When it comes to films I like to live by the Pfirst Law of Pfeiffer; which states that Any Movie With Michelle Pfeiffer is Better Than Any Movie Without. I admit it’s possible this might have something to do with La Pfeiffer’s lips, cheekbones and beautiful blue eyes, rather than the quality of the movies, but it does provide an easy answer to the question of whether Batman Returns is better than Battleship Potemkin, or whether One Fine Day is finer than Addicted to Love.
      To rework an old and overused cliché, I’d happily pay to watch Pfeiffer (and Meg Ryan) sat in a room reading aloud from the pfone book for two hours. Though I’d probably complain if Michelle didn’t read some of the names with icy contempt, some with feline ferocity, and others with erotic surrender just to get the pfull range of Pfeifferisms in there.

      P.S. I’ll look forward to your Wolf and One Fine Day posts. In the spirit of pfandom I might reblog one or both.

      • I would be happy to watch that phonebook reading session as well! It’s nice to know there are other Pfeiffer pfans out there. I’ve been revisiting her pfilms since earlier this summer, so when I found your blog a couple of weeks ago, it was heartening to know there are others also happily afflicted with Pfeiffer pfandom.

        Wolf is up today, check it out! Thanks for the reblog offer, too! One Fine Day still needs to be written, so hopefully that one will post in the coming weeks.

  4. Some movies just never get old. And it’s great to sometimes feel nostalgic. I have been feeling pretty nostalgic myself the past few weeks, having seen quite a number of classic movies 😊 Great post as always 😀

  5. Love the cocktail metaphor. I do wish they would have another go at the screwball genre…

  6. Great post ☺ That does sound like an interesting dream you had of seeing Addicted to Love and One Fine Day paired together in Radio City Music Hall. An awesome dream for me is to see a special movie house showing of John Landis An American Werewolf in London paired together with Joe Dante’s The Howling. Two great werewolf films that came out in 1981. Anyway, keep up the great work as always ☺

    • American Werewolf in London and The Howling would be an awesome double feature, especially if it played at the old Eros News Cinema on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue in Piccadilly Circus.

      • That would be awesome if they played at Piccadilly Circus considering the relevance to the Landis film ☺ Speaking of Landis and Dante, I have a blog post on my site about my favorite films of them and you can expect to see a Pfeiffer film and a Ryan film under one of the two. Speaking of which, If Mulholland Drive came out when they were younger, would you have cast Ryan or Pfeiffer in the Naomi Watts role?
        P.S. I just watched Two-Lane Blacktop and like every film I love, it still remains a timeless classic. Anyway, keep up the great work as always ☺

        • If Mulholland Drive had been released ten years earlier I’d have been hard pressed to choose between Pfeiffer and Ryan for the Naomi Watts role. Michelle was this decade’s go-to girl, yet Meg Ryan’s intelligence, spirit and likeability were hard to resist. I’ll go with Meg!

          P.S. I watched Two-Lane myself recently, it still draws me in, no matter how many times I’ve watched it.

  7. PS…sorry I’ve been so delayed with reading your post. It has been hectic settling down in the land of chocolate and cheese 😉 I’m not avoiding you…just had so much to do…

    • There is absolutely no need to apologise. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. If you have something to say fine, if you’re busy or haven’t got anything to say that’s fine too. I’m really enjoying the comments on this post and I do appreciate everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts.

      P.S. Do you like the banner on this post?

  8. Your love for your ladies has never been more apparent. I am convinced, had you met, that they would appreciate your devotion!

  9. Tom Austin

    What this world needs ***right Now*** is a good screwball comedy. Meg is perfect as is Michelle. Only these two can do. C’mon ladies…take us away, and give us a reason to laugh so hard we’ll have tears streaming down our faces.

  10. Dear Paul,

    This is a very interesting article. I know what you mean about movies inspiring you. Classic movies give me inspiration, too.

    I am hosting my first blogathon, “The Great Breening Fest:” I would like to invite you to join it. We could really use your talent. If you are unsure what topic to choose, you might enjoy writing a tribute to a great Code screwball comedy or the genre at large during the Code era. You could also breen a pre-Code screwball comedy, like “We’re Not Dressing” with Carole Lombard and Bing Crosby from 1933 or “It Happened One Night” from 1934. Of course, I’m sure you have lots of your own ideas. I hope you will join.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon. Until then, I remain

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

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