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Hollywood Bedlam: Classic Screwball Comedies Paperback – 1 Dec 1996

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Product Description

251 pages. Book is in Very good condition throughout. Classic Screwball Comedies.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9087dac8) out of 5 stars 1 review
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90483c78) out of 5 stars invaluable 15 Oct. 2000
By Peter Shelley - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is in the series of Citadel Press film books so do not expect a definitive study of screwball. (The cover featuring Jean Arthur put me at odds straight away). Everson's opening chapter also gives a specific definition of the genre, emphasising why titles like Bringing Up Baby, and His Girl Friday (fine with me since it's not one of my favourites) do not qualify, and differentiating between farce, slapstick, comedy of manners and satire. Screwball grew out of a reaction to the 1933 Production Code and the Depression. It was a thumbing of the nose to the polite and unreal conventions of "nouveau puritism" and sexual restraints of the period. Everson claims screwball begam emerging in the silent period, climaxed in the late 1930's and early 1940's, but had burned out by the end of WW2. Unfaithfully Yours was perhaps the last remnant, and even it was soured by the post-war cynicism that created film noir as the new cult. Everson points out that at the height of screwball, Hollywood was both at a technical zenith of factory film-making, and also employed master directors and actors, "elegant sophisticates at their peak". Everson also considers Preston Sturges an untouchable genius and gives a lengthy analysis of the "failure" The Sin of Harold Diddlebock. (The title is enough to tell you it was in trouble). Some of the titles covered here may be old hat to film students - It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, Nothing Sacred, The Palm Beach Story, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, 20th Century, My Man Godfrey, and the screenplays by Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch, but there is a lot here that I had heard of but never seen. A good example is the 2 Hal Roach titles featuring Carole Landis and John Hubbard - Turnabout, and Road Show. As it is in the Citadel Film Series, there are stills without notes covering titles like World Premiere, Bombshell, and Theodora Goes Wild. There is also a chapter on B movies, coverage of the little seen and crazy Hellzapoppin, French titles like La Nuit Fantastique and the Universal release The Rage of Paris with Danielle Darrieux, and a salute to the wonderful character actors who supported the stars. Everson also has some interesting opinions - that Carole Lombard wasn't well directed in My Man Godfrey; that if she had lived, imagine what Sturges could have done with her in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and The Palm Beach Story; and that Garbo's last film Two Faced Woman has redeeming qualities. While not perfect (well what admittedly subjective coverage can please everbody?) this is the kind of reference book I like, since it moves me to seek out the films it covers, watch them, then return to read the opinions offered.
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