Detective Guy Johnson's client, Willie Heywood is framed for murder and while Guy hides him so he can catch the real killer, both of them are nabbed by the police, tried, convicted and ... See full summary »
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Detective Guy Johnson's client, Willie Heywood is framed for murder and while Guy hides him so he can catch the real killer, both of them are nabbed by the police, tried, convicted and sentenced to jail -- Guy for a year, Willie to be executed. On the way to jail Guy comes across a clue and escapes from the police... Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
What makes this film a surprise is not that it's good. After all, a romantic screwball caper starring Claudette Colbert & Jimmy Stewart, directed by W.S. Van Dyke from a script by Ben Hecht -- how could it *not* be good? No, what surprised me about this film is that as good as it is, it's not currently available on VHS or DVD.
Like Van Dyke's The Thin Man and Hecht's His Girl Friday, It's a Wonderful World combines elements of crime films with the romantic screwball comedy, and the result is both gripping & laugh-out-loud funny.
In their only on-screen pairing, Colbert & Stewart play off each other beautifully; she's the comedic foil to his tough-talking detective, and their romance is handled realistically and with patience. The supporting cast in uniformly excellent, with standout performances from Nat Pendleton & Edgar Kennedy as the bumbling cops on Stewart's trail, and Guy Kibbee as Stewart's partner & friend.
Watching this film, it's hard to believe that it's one of *four* that Van Dyke made in 1939 (especially since one of the others is the even-better Stand Up and Fight). Van Dyke was famous for shooting films quickly, but his direction never seems hurried. A director-for-hire, he was gifted at serving both art and commerce, satisfying both audiences and his bosses at MGM.
Thanks to Turner Classic Movies for giving me the opportunity to see this film, which as I mentioned is otherwise unavailable. Here's hoping that Warner Bros., which owns the rights, releases it soon on home video.
Score: EIGHT out of TEN
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