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Rent >> Screwball Comedies, Vol. 1

Icons of Screwball Comedy, Vol. 1 (If You Could Only Cook / Too Many Husbands / My Sister Eileen / She Wouldn't Say Yes)
Icons of Screwball Comedy, Vol. 1 (If You Could Only Cook / Too Many Husbands / My Sister Eileen / She Wouldn't Say Yes) (1935)
Actor: Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell, Herbert Marshall, Fred MacMurray, Melvyn Douglas, Harry Davenport, Leo Carrillo, Lionel Stander, Alan Edwards, Frieda Inescort, Gene Morgan, (more) Ralf Harolde, Matt McHugh, Richard Powell, Dorothy Peterson, Melville Cooper, Edgar Buchanan, Tom Dugan, Brian Aherne, Janet Blair, George Tobias, Adele Jergens, Allyn Joslyn, Lee Bowman, Grant Mitchell, Gordon Jones, Elizabeth Patterson, Richard Quine, June Havoc, Donald MacBride, Frank Sully, Clyde Fillmore, Charles Winninger, Sara Haden, Percy Kilbride
Director: William A. Seiter, Wesley Ruggles, Alexander Hall
Genre: Comedy, Screwball Comedy
Year: 1935
Studio: Sony Pictures
Length: 336 minutes
Released: August 4, 2009
Rating: NR
Format: DVD
Misc: NTSC, Full Screen, Black & White
Language: English (Original Language)
The screwball comedy was virtually invented at Columbia Studios during the height of the depression. Following the huge success of Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934), Columbia would make more of these madcap romantic comedies than any other studio.

Typical “screwballs” featured marital mix-ups and plenty of opportunities to poke fun at the wealthy, while allowing audiences to dwell in the luxury of the upper-class. These films also offered some of the best roles for actresses in this period, often playing working-girls in a man’s world (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday) or socially liberal gals battling restrictive upper-crust society (Katherine Hepburn in Holiday). A breezy approach to male and female roles was a hallmark of the screwball comedy.

If You Could Only Cook (1935)
Unemployed Jean Arthur (You Can’t Take it With, You, Easy Living) happens to meet Herbert Marshall (Trouble in Paradise, The Letter) sitting on a park bench. Assuming that he needs work too, she asks him to pose with her as husband-and-wife so they can get jobs as a cook-and-butler team at the mansion of a mobster (Leo Carrillo). Charmed by her, Marshall, who's actually the head of an auto firm, goes along with the plan, learning the finer points of butlering from his own butler. In order to sell the deception, the “couple” has to share the servants’ quarters, and the comedy complications multiply from there.

Too Many Husbands (1940)
Director Wesley Ruggles (I’m No Angel, True Confession) assembled a stellar cast - including Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray (The Gilded Lily, Double Indemnity), and Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka) - for this fast-paced, Oscar-nominated comedy (Best Sound, 1941). Arthur finds herself in the position of having one excess husband when MacMurray returns one year after he’s been declared legally dead, and shortly after she’s married his best friend (Douglas). Arthur isn’t sure it’s such a terrible predicament as two husbands vie for her affections.

My Sister Eileen (1942)
Rosalind Russell was nominated as Best Actress for her role in My Sister Eileen. She stars with Academy Award nominee Brian Aherne (Best Supporting Actor, Juarez, 1940) and Janet Blair (Once Upon a Time, Tonight and Every Night) and the trio enliven the all-out farce whose antics were first introduced in the pages of The New Yorker magazine, then in a hit Broadway play. The zippy dialogue is nonstop when two Ohio girls newly arrived in New York settle into a Greenwich Village basement apartment, and are promptly confronted by the neighborhood characters. Russell would later reprise her role in the Broadway musical version “Wonderful Town.”

She Wouldn't Say Yes (1945)
Academy Award nominated director Alexander Hall (Best Director, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, 1942) was reunited with his My Sister Eileen star Rosalind Russell for this comedy about a psychiatrist who ardently believes one should keep one's impulses under control. Lee Bowman (Cover Girl, Tonight and Every Night) plays the cartoonist who’s most successful comic creation, “the Nixie,” embodies the opposite approach to life. Bowman and Russell are thrown together when a ticket agent, inspired by the Nixie, assigns them to the same train berth—unleashing some of Bowman’s own impulses. Russell displays her supreme talent for physical comedy, as she tries to thwart Bowman at every pass.

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