Saturday, November 6, 2010

For the Weekend: Much Needed Smiles

If your week has been anything like mine, you are in need of some serious comedy this weekend.  So for your suggestions today, a few classics that will have you smiling, just as the doctor--I mean, blogger ordered.

First up, Frank Capra's "It Happened One Night" (1934), the first ever movie to win all five big awards at the Oscars - Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, and Actress.  (This has only been done two other times since, by "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).)  The comedy, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, is about a spoiled heiress who runs away from her controlling father after he annuls her secret wedding.  While on the road back to her lover, she meets a reporter who helps her get to New York, only to fall in love with him on the way.  Colbert and Gable were not the first picks for the film's leads.  Robert Montgomery, Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, and Margaret Sullavan are just some of the names that turned down the script, thinking it was horrible.  Colbert only agreed to the project after they accepted her double-salary demand.  Both Gable and Colbert hated the script too when they started.  Gable ended having fun during filming, but Colbert was still a diva, claiming this film was "the worst picture in the world."  Haha, little did she know...

Next, the classic rom-com "My Man Godfrey" from 1936.  The story tells the tale of a socialite who finds a bum in a scavenger hunt and hires him as her butler.  She then falls in love with him, to his annoyance, as he actually isn't poor at all but one of the wealthiest men in New York.  It stars William Powell and Carole Lombard only three years after they divorced each other.  However, when Powell was loaned out from MGM to do the part, he insisted on Lombard as his costar.  (Otherwise, it would have been Constance Bennett in the lead.)   "Godfrey" was the first ever film to receive nominations in all four Oscar acting categories (the year the supporting categories where introduced), also receiving nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay.  Yet, it's the only film in Oscar history to receive these six nominations and not get one for Best Picture.  "Godrey" also didn't win in any of the categories, a rarity in the Academy world.

Finally, how about "Desk Set" starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy?  This 1957 romantic comedy was the eighth film the classic duo did together and their first in color.  Based on the play "The Desk Set" by William Marchant, it's about a group of information women for a large network who have their world usurped by a gentleman and his fancy new machine EMERAC.  Thinking the machine will be taking their jobs away, they try to distance themselves from him as he works, but Hepburn and Tracy end up falling in love anyway, as only they can.  It's a wonderfully fun film and the last comedy the two did together.  Their ninth and final film was ten years later, the drama "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."  Tracy died soon after it was finished.

Each of these great romantic comedies is a current instant streamer on Netflix. So get your much-needed laughs and giggles in this weekend with these great classics.  Each one will make your day better, I promise.  Have a great weekend, everyone!  Until Monday.

(Post-tidbit: "Looney Tunes" creator Friz Freleng claimed "It Happened One Night" was one of his all-time favorite films and influenced some of the characteristics of his greatest character, Bugs Bunny.  The supporting role of Oscar Shapely was the basis of Bugs personality.  The character mentioned to frighten Shapely, "Bugs Dooley," of course influenced Bugs' name.  And the way Gable eats carrots and talks at the same time became a defining character trait of Bugs.)

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