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This fast, fizzy, deft comedy skirts the Code so nimbly that I couldn't tell just by watching (on TCM this morning, thanks for the thousandth time TCM) whether it's pre- or post-Code. I appreciated so many unsung, supporting, and subtextual things about this ur-romcom that I can't mention them all here. In order of surprise/urgency, the top 5 are:
1. Otto Kruger! Here is the man who clearly should gotten all those roles wasted on Warren Williams - what were producers thinking? (Were they thinking?) They look about the same age, yet Otto's handsomer, less tedious, and possessed of actual romantic and comic acting chops.
2. The writing! Cattiness among beauticians, and the delectable Alice Brady brand of un-self-awareness: "I'm very intuitive." Her literal kiss-off scene with Kruger has never been done better in a comedy, not even by Meryl Streep and *insert leading man here*.
3. The bad boyfriend! An almost complex portrait of a goofball who clearly doesn't deserve the leading lady, but not because he's a bad guy. He's not all good, either. He's just not grown up. It's a forgiving, shaded character, played by Eddie Nugent with a subtlety usually missing from lame runner-up lover roles.
4. The slapstick! I don't care how many takes they went through to print the change-of-driver-in-real-estate-agent's-car scene. The result is totally worth it. I'm actually surprised I've never seen this bit in a TCM montage of silly scenes.
5. Madge Evens! Una Merkel! Listed low, but only for the surprise factor. Both are at or near their very best here. Miss Merkel never gets enough credit for delivering both sides of a double-entendre grilled to smoking hot perfection. Miss Evans does more-or-less blameless ingenue so well it's not boring - this is Carole Lombard territory, and she nails it, sweetly and demurely (well, mostly demurely, see no. 4).
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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