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Gerry and Tom Jeffers are finding married life hard. Tom is an inventor/ architect and there is little money for them to live on. They are about to be thrown out of their apartment when Gerry meets rich businessman being shown around as a prospective tenant. He gives Gerry $700 to start life afresh but Tom refuses to believe her story and they quarrel. Gerry decides the marriage is over and heads to Palm Beach for a quick divorce but Tom has plans to stop her. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
It's a slightly cynical screwball comedy about lust and greed.
The "Palm Beach Story" has a poor title but it's a hilarious movie by the sometimes cynical master of comedy, Preston Sturges. "Palm" comes a year after Sturges far lesser comedy, "The Lady Eve", staring Stanwyck and a dull Henry Fonda. The superior comedy, "Palm," rivals the greatest screwballs like "Bringing up Baby" and "The Awful Truth" for sustained insanity and strength of characterization.
In this screwball masterpiece, the characters' flakiness is shared by the rest of their absurd world. It climaxes in a fantastic scene set on a train where an "Ale and Quale" club goes on a drunken shooting spree, forming a posse that tramps from car to car singing "A hunting we will go".
As Anthony Lane argues, "Palm" presents a realist view of the prominence of sex and greed as motivating and blinding forces. In a key scene, Colbert gives a little speech about "the look", or the copulatory gaze, that she's been getting from every man since she was 14. This movie is slightly cynical and funnier for it's richness. Comedy is set off against discussions of lost opportunity and youth. "Topic A" is what runs the world of "The Palm Beech Story", but sometimes topic B, money, is temporarily more important. After leaving her struggling husband, Gerry gets prizes from any horny man she comes in contact with: rent money from the regretful wiener king, taxi rides, a train ticket from hunters, and dresses and rubies from a millionaire. Also, the Princess has a kept pet-man who tags along as she pursues new husbands.
Sturges shares with Wilder and Allen a slighlty cynical view of human "nature". As Lane points out, they don't have a conservative Catholic view of the inherent selfishness and sinfulness of human kind, but a liberal, more Deweyan, view of human potential, slightly jaded from their experience. They are not without hope, but aware of limitation. Sturges is beyond naivete, like many of his screwball compatriots, and frankly examines weaknesses that others avoid or deny, and he criticizes conventions that supposedly created a utopia in the 1950's.
This is one of the highlights of the screwball genre that illuminatingly explores, like no other group of films, life, love, gender, sexuality, and desire in 20th century America in an endearing and always fun manner.
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