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|Index||17 reviews in total|
16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Screwball comedy with surprise ending..., 25 May 2001
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
Screwball comedy was popular in the late '30s and Warner Bros. made several
contributions to this genre. Despite the stellar cast--Errol Flynn, Olivia
de Havilland, Patric Knowles and Rosalind Russell--this one isn't considered
one of the best but it's amusingly played by the four leads.
Errol Flynn is a surprise in a good comic performance--a highlight of which is the scenes where he is pursued by hound dogs snapping at his heels every time de Havilland's father (Walter Connolly) tries driving him off his property. Flynn and Rosalind Russell play a pair of scheming reporters who, along with newspaper boss Patric Knowles, exploit Connolly as "the meanest man in America". Love complications abound when the four snarling couples get into cabs for the finale, with a surprising switcheroo happening before a justice of the peace about to perform the marriage ceremony.
Olivia de Havilland looks gorgeous as the giddy daughter of millionaire Connolly and shows a decided flair for comedy. Likewise, Flynn, Russell and even Patric Knowles (less wooden than usual) appear to be having a great time in their roles.
Amusing frothy comedy with too many complicated schemes going on for almost all of its running time--but worth a peek if you enjoy watching these stars.
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Paging Ivy Lee?, 14 January 2007
Author: theowinthrop from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There seem to be certain rules about "madcap comedy" in the 1930s. It
had to center around the idle rich and newspapers frequently played an
important part in the story lines...oh yes, and Walter Connolly had to
be the rich millionaire father who is bedeviled by the antics of the
people around him, be they his daughters (Claudette Colbert in IT
HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, Myrna Loy in Broadway BILL and LIBELED LADY, or
Olivia de Haviland in the current film, FOUR'S A CROWD. Somehow when
Frank Capra used him Connolly was treated with more respect than in the
other films. In IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT he was the wise man who saw
through the fortune hunting airplane pilot and pushed his daughter into
the hands of Clark Gable. But in LIBELED LADY he is a man who is easily
impressed by a conniver's claims at being a trout fisherman. In FOUR'S
A CROWD he's the nation's richest man, who has a secret passion that is
sillier in it's way than trout fishing (which, after all, is exercise).
Connolly is John Dillingwell, who is a very private millionaire who does not care about public relations. His daughter is Olivia de Haviland, who is currently being romanced by newspaper owner Patrick Knowles. Knowles' ace reporter is Rosalind Russell, whose boyfriend is Errol Flynn. Flynn runs a public relations firm, and would love a chance to have Connolly as a client. The film follows how Flynn tries to land this account, and uses Knowles' newspaper to ensnare Connolly.
In the background of this comedy was an actual transformation. In the 1900s the most hated figure in American business was our richest man, John D. Rockefeller. The business savvy tied to tricks and chicanery used by Rockefeller to build up Standard Oil to controlling 90% of the oil refining in the U.S. was done at the expense of countless rivals driven to bankruptcy. Ida Tarbell's HISTORY OF THE STANDARD OIL COMPANY was one of the great (if not fully trustworthy) muckraking books of the Progressive Era. John D. Rockefeller was fully hated. Then, about 1910, Rockefeller hired publicist Ivy Lee to figure out how to get rid of this bad image. Lee was a genius about advertising. He convinced Rockefeller to get involved with turning a huge portion of his fortune into charity. This eventually led to Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, medical charities, work at restoring the colonial town of Williamsburg (and the Cloisters in upper Manhattan). It also led to Lee's interesting suggestion to turn the elderly Rockefeller into a "lovable old codger" by giving dimes away as gifts or tips to strangers. And it worked. By the time Rockefeller died in 1937 (at the age of 97) he had become a well-liked figure to the American public.
Flynn uses bad publicity stories to make Connolly so disliked that street children thrown stones at him. He also uses Knowles' newspaper to print anti-Connolly articles (which threatens Knowels' romance with de Haviland. Then at one point he calls Connolly to offer his services. Connolly responds, "I'd be glad to accept your offer...WHEN BANANAS GROW AT THE NORTH POLE!!" Since global warming is not happening in 1938, this portends no business contract. Instead, Flynn uses Knowles to get Flynn an introduction to Da Haviland. And in visiting her, Flynn finds the key to Connolly's heart: he and his servant Melville Cooper have one of the most elaborate toy train sets in America. Flynn challenges Connolly to a contest between his train and Connolly's favorite one. And surreptitiously sabotages Connolly's train's traction ability.
As the relationship between Loy, Powell, Tracy, and Harlow in LIBELED LADY got "twisty" (to say the least), in this film a similar growth of jealousy and confusion renders relations between Flynn, Russell, de Haviland, and Knowles equally confusing at the end - especially when all four end up at Justice of the Peace Hugh Herbert's to get married. The result is four voices in disharmony speaking at once, joined by Herbert (for once not saying "WOO - WOO" as he claps his hands) trying to read through the marriage service once. It is not a great comedy, but it is amusing, and most people will like it.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Flynn is a screwy swashbuckling revelation, 7 June 2009
Author: Shane Crilly from Canada
OK! This is not the great hidden screwball masterpiece. The screwy
cleverness is pretty obvious, but it's still funny. The story is
adequate enough to keep the laughs coming with the right cast. I won't
bother too much with the details because you'll get the idea pretty
quickly. This is the right cast however and they keep the laughs
For me the highlights are the scenes with Errol Flynn and Rosalind Russell. Russell has always been great as a comedienne and she delivers here as well, but Flynn is a revelation. Like Frank Morgan and Walter Pidgeon before him, he is the guy who not only can, but will, sell refrigerators to the Eskimos. When he turns the charm on Russell it's like being with that cousin who got you into network marketing.
The final act gets the ensemble (de Havilland,Flynn, Knowles and Russell) colliding together like bumper cars with Justice of the Peace, Hugh Herbert misdirecting traffic. He may have delivered the ultimate screwball line ever with "Children, please don't fight! There'll be time for that after you're married."
Realistically, it's obvious why the suits would not let Flynn take this direction, he was the king of swashbucklers and this would have weakened the brand. However, this movie shows what he could have been. As a screwball lead he had charm, athleticism, comic timing, sexy looks and a great voice, but so did Grant, Barrymore and Cooper and others and they were kind enough to leave the pirate market to him. A loss but I'll console myself with another hundred views of Captain Blood.
10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Despite all the star power and excellent director, the film just tries too hard and doesn't deliver, 20 August 2007
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
In this film, Errol Flynn plays a publicity man and ex-newspaper
editor, Patric Knowles plays the owner of a newspaper, Rosalind Russell
a star reporter and Olivia DeHavilland plays...well,...an idiot. While
I could try to explain the plot as well as how all these characters
come together in the film, I'd rather not--as the film is a
super-frenetic mess. I am a huge fan of Errol Flynn as well as Olivia
DeHavilland, so it came as quite a surprise that I enjoyed this film as
little as I did. The biggest problem was that despite all the star
power and the direction of the great Michael Curtiz, the overall effort
is pretty awful and is only saved by a few moments here and there
(provided mostly by Flynn and Walter Connelly). The stars and script
try too hard--making the film very shrill and pushy. This is because
the film is too high-paced and the script too busy--often resulting in
all the main actors talking loudly over each other (not a fun
experience at all). Now SOME films with these qualities work (such as
MY GIRL Friday or BRINGING UP BABY), but this one does not because the
script is poor plus Miss DeHavilland is cast in one of her worst roles
ever. While Miss DeHavilland was wonderful in roles in such notable
films as CAPTAIN BLOOD and GONE WITH THE WIND, here she plays against
type. Instead of the usual sweet character, here she plays a ditsy dame
and it just never works and seems, like the rest of the film, very
forced. Katherine Hepburn could pull this off, DeHavilland could not.
The bottom line is that the stars of this film made much better films and you should see them instead. In particular, Flynn, Knowles and DeHavilland all appeared in one of the greatest films of the era, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. So it's obvious with better direction (sorry, Curtiz just doesn't have it here, though he was usually a wonderful director--particularly in romances and adventure films) and writing this SHOULD have been a lot better considering the money Warner Brothers spent to bring all these stars together.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Newspaper caper, 21 August 2007
Author: ksf-2 from southwest US
What a fun cast ! Bob Lansford (Errol Flynn) and reporter Jean Christy (Rosalind Russell) are scheming writers, about to lose their jobs. They decide to write stories about rich man Mr. Dillingwill (Walter Connelly -- played the father of the bride in It Happened One Night) that will affect his standing, as well as theirs. Errol Flynn, about 30 at this time, is known mostly as swashbuckling pirate and Robin Hood, and has a most interesting family history in real life; check it out on the Bio page of IMDb. And of course, they do manage to take Flynn's shirt off in Four's a Crowd. Olivia DeHavilland (Gone With the Wind) plays Lorri, the daughter of Dillingwell. Also look for Margaret Hamilton (wicked witch from Wizard of Oz) as Amy, the housekeeper with long pigtails no less, and Frank Pangborn plays the butler. He always had perfect timing as the prim & proper butler, the hotel clerk, or the bank examiner in Bank Dick. The sale of the newspaper was a common theme in the 30s and 40s, (think Citizen Kane) but here it's a fun caper as everyone tries to decide which side they are on. I LOVE the giant train set Mr. Connelly and his butler play with. This story kind of goes around the mulberry mush, but it's fun to be along for the ride. As others have noted, this WOULD be a good DVD, but doesn't seem to have been released yet.
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable comedy with too much plot but interesting cast, 7 July 2012
Author: csteidler from Minnesota
Rosalind Russell, ace reporter, is peeved that her newspaper is being
shut down by cub publisher Patric Knowles, inexperienced son of the
original publisher. Knowles has recently fired crack editor Errol
Flynn, who has in turn set himself up as a publicity agent for rich
curmudgeons who need good press. Olivia de Havilland, lovely and
playful granddaughter of one such grumpy millionaire, is romantically
attached to the handsome Knowlesat least for the moment.
The plot of this rapid fire comedy follows our four stars round and round: Russell wants Knowles to save the paper, wants Flynn back on the job. Flynn and Knowles have an old rivalry and delight in scoring off of each other. De Havilland seems happy letting everybody love her for her grandfather's eight million dollars. How will it all shake out?
Walter Connolly pretty much steals the show as the grandfather, a wealthy eccentric whose great passion is the model railroad that dominates his back yard. Melville Cooper is also excellent as Connolly's butler and stationmaster; the two of them in their engineer caps, running the train controls from their crow's nest, are just hilarious.
Out of a great cast, Russell and Connolly are most familiar in this kind of a screwball comedy and probably come across best. Flynn and de Havilland, though, are fun to watch, tooFlynn shows a flair for comic antics like stealing sticks of butter from a dark kitchen, and Olivia looks like she's having a ball as her fun-loving character laughs and whoops it up in a way that the Maid Marian (or Melanie Wilkes!) never would have dreamed of.
Overall, the movie is never dull but never quite takes offis it the complicated plot that prevents this picture from really hitting full speed? In any case, it's certainly entertaining, thanks to the great cast and solid Warner Bros. production.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Four's a Crowd! Really!, 31 August 2010
Author: allaboutlana from United States
Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Rosalind Russell, and Patric Knowles star in this fast-paced caper about a newspaper that fired Flynn, who's now a p.r. man and helps influential people with their public image. But then somehow Errol is rehired by the paper. Walter Connelly is Olivia's father, who is very rich and very eccentric. But, of course. And, he has some big dogs. Errol finds this out several times, as he is thrown out. In fact, it turns into a running gag. Insanity prevails when the paper prints a story about Walter that he doesn't like. And, one thing leads to another as this gets sillier and sillier. In fact, by the end you feel worn out, because they threw in everything but the kitchen sink. All in all, it's passable entertainment, but it doesn't have the class and/or distinction of and is not nearly as good as "Libeled Lady" and "His Girl Friday."
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Screwball fun with Errol and Ros, 8 April 2010
Author: Richard Burin from advicetothelovelorn.blogspot.com
Four's a Crowd (Michael Curtiz, 1938) is a really fun screwball comedy that pits a newspaper reporter against millionaire Walter Connolly and his daughter, a la It Happened One Night and Libeled Lady. The first 15 minutes are blisteringly funny. Journo Rosalind Russell schemes to get editor-turned-PR-man Errol Flynn to return to his ailing paper, which the managing director (Patric Knowles) is trying to close down. Flynn agrees, and wages war against Connolly, hoping to turn him into the most-hated man in America, so he can repair his reputation via a publicity campaign. After that, the plotting goes a bit awry, spending quite a bit of time in Connolly's country mansion, where Flynn ends up trying to steal butter whilst mollifying heiress De Havilland and being chased by dogs. Well, I said it went a bit awry. Still, while the screenplay hops from one situation to the next without stopping to consider its internal logic, it moves so fast and so funnily you'll probably be swept along. Flynn and Russell are both near peak form, and they make a delightful team.
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Silly screwball, 31 March 2009
Author: blanche-2 from United States
Errol Flynn, Rosalind Russell, Olivia de Havilland and Patric Knowles
prove that "Four's a Crowd" in this 1938 comedy directed by Michael
With such a great cast, one would think this is a classic gem. Alas, no. In fact, due to a confusing script, it's in shambles. Fun shambles, but shambles.
Walter Connolly plays millionaire John Dillingwell, Olivia de Havilland is his beautiful albeit dizzy daughter, Rosalind Russell is a reporter, and Patric Knowles, who is dating de Havilland, is Russell's boss. Dillingwell is a private person with no interest in public relations. Russell's boyfriend (Flynn) runs a PR firm and wants to land the Dillingwell account. With some help from the paper, Flynn manages to make Dillingwell the most hated man in America - a man desperately in need of having his image cleaned up. Not that he agrees to it right away.
The inspiration for this story is John D. Rockefeller, the most hated man in America at one time, known for his ruthless business tactics. He hired a publicist and, with the publicist's urging, began to give away his vast fortune consisting of property and money to various charities.
For screwball comedy, "Four's a Crowd" had a lot of competition, which is probably why the powers that be threw everything at it but the kitchen sink. Heiresses - "It Happened One Night," "Love is News," "Libeled Lady," etc. abounded. So did the movies - and they were all better than this one.
There certainly are some fun scenes and some good performances. Flynn had a good flair for comedy, as did de Havilland, though they weren't often cast that way. de Havilland's early career was in fact doing airhead ingénues, such as in "It's Love I'm After" and this one. Russell is terrific as usual, and Knowles acquits himself well.
If only the script had been stronger...it's still fun, though.
A fast-moving comedy with some big star power, 11 September 2012
Author: wvj-2 from United States
Four's A Crowd is one of the films you love to see as a child and then again when you get older. The fast-talking and fast-moving tempo of the movie grabs the viewer and forces movie watchers of all ages to keep their eyes on the screen for fear of missing a laugh or a star's expression. The leads in this film were climbing stars at the time and accepting this script was one way they could show all of Hollywood they had versatility. History tells us that Flynn especially loved playing comedy, something he had little chance to do since he was destined to becoming better known as a swashbuckler. But he manages to pull it off quite well as he seems to enjoy each and every scene playing the comedic antagonist and maneuvering himself and the rest of the cast through a fast-changing plot. Yes, this film challenges movie goers to pay attention to the entire film - from Grandpa's (Walter Connelly) expensive model railroad playground and the offices of a working newspaper to the luxurious rooms (sets) in the supposed house where Grandpa and his granddaughter (DeHavilland) live. Here is a comedy made in the black-and-white era that deserves your attention if you love film comedies of the time. And don't forget to watch closely as the four primary characters thrash out an ending that satisfies the sensibilities of audiences of all ages.
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