In ‘Screwball’, comedy is battle – battle of the classes, battle of the sexes and, most importantly, battle of the wits, where the quickest wins the day. It’s this wit and pace that was the forerunner of most modern comedy, with the baton having being passed to the great sitcoms of today. These movies would be the parents (or drunken, bickering absentee parents more likely) of everything from 30 Rock to Arrested Development, Seinfeld to Friends. Rich people being mean to each other never goes out of fashion.
But aside from and above all that, the films are simply knock-down drag-out hilarious. Combining elegantly the highest, quickest wit with gracefully painfully physical pratfalls, outlandish scenes of farce with understated, barbed asides, they are four of the great Hollywood comedy films, existing in a chaotic world where the only way to survive was to give into the craziness.
[€25 ‘Screwball Season’ pass available when booked in person at box-office.]
At the Light House:
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT – From March 6
“ I want to see what love looks like when it’s triumphant. I haven’t had a good laugh in a week. “A heiress (Claudette Colbert) causes a national scandal when she runs away from home and a drunken down-on-his-luck reporter (Clark Gable) might just be onto something when the biggest story around literally lands in his lap. They might be able to help each other if only they could stand each other. The original odd couple road movie, it’s the originator of everything from ‘Midnight Run’ to ‘When Harry Met Sally’. The first film to win the Big 5 Oscars the year it was nominated and the only one until ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ 41 years later
HIS GIRL FRIDAY – From March 13
“I intended to be with you on our honeymoon, Hildy, honest I did. “Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a hard-boiled editor for The Morning Post who learns his ex-wife and former star reporter, Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson (Rosalind Russell), is about to marry bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) and settle down to a quiet life as a wife and mother in Albany, New York. Walter determines to sabotage these plans, enticing the reluctant Hildy to cover one last story, the upcoming execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams (John Qualen). Maybe the only romantic comedy to centre around a potential hanging. A remake of ‘The Front Page’ where one of the leads was changed to a woman giving the whole plot an extra level and dimension of tension and potency, it’s gone down in history as the fastest talking comedy of all time.
BRINGING UP BABY – From March 20
“How can all these things happen to just one person?”Paleotolongist David Huxley (Cary Grant) just wants to finish his Brontosaurus skeleton and make it to his wedding on time. A dog, two leopards, the police and a woman named Susan Vance (Katherine Hepburn), who has her own brand of nearly Beckett like logic, stand in his way
THE PHILADELHPIA STORY – From March 27
“I would sell my grandmother for a drink – and you know how I love my grandmother.”Opening with one of the most shockingly hilarious divorces in cinema, the film is about a socialite (Katherine Hepburn) whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a tabloid magazine journalist (James Stewart). Set over the course of 24 hours (and about a 1000 drinks) it’s catty, complicated and very, very, very funny, with James Stewart in Oscar winning form (and giving us maybe the best screen drunk scene ever).