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Sunday, May 25, 2008

THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943)


Helmer George Steven’s big wartime romantic comedy hit, made at the height of Washington’s housing shortage, now looks forced and sour as his stars dutifully go through his patented slow-mo Laurel & Hardy comedy riffs: door slammings, coffee pot in the sleeve, suspender jettisoned pants, etc. Charles Coburn, Joel McCrea and especially Jean Arthur do wonders with their dialogue, while the romantic scenes in the middle of the film are exceptionally sexy for any day, but there's something pushy & distastefully voyeuristic in cheering on the machinations of Coburn's over-aged Cupid. Give Stevens credit for some beautiful staging in close quarters and for a great (not to say sly) camera set up for the bedroom scenes.

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