Now With More Than 3600 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 3600 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


A couple of legendary scripters, Ben Hecht & Herman J. Mankiewicz, had the neat idea of putting the usual suspects & farcical doings of a ‘Screwball’ comedy inside a Hitchcockian innocent-man-on-the-run story, specifically THE 39 STEPS/’35. Right down to having the bickering leads spend an uncomfortable night handcuffed together.* But while their intentions are right on the money, the execution, as so often with second-tier screwballs, isn’t all it might be. Still, when they aren’t pushing too hard, James Stewart (as a private dick on the lam to prove his client’s innocence) & Claudette Colbert (a poetess hoping for adventure & a bit of notoriety to boost sales) are plenty charming. Watch them interact on a boat where Claudette is briefly turned into a living cameo portrait when seen thru a port hole or earlier when Jimmy grabs Claudette like a bag of potatoes off a rickety fence. In general, the silly detective story works better than the gags, and the funniest scene is all cops & dicks as comic flatfoots Nat Pendleton, Edgar Kennedy & Guy Kibbee get dressed down by a Captain. This guy has the chutzpah to pull a slow burn on Edgar Kennedy, the greatest slow-burn artist in film history! Now, that’s screwy.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The reason this more than respectable Screwball is rarely revived becomes all too apparent late in the film when Stewart hides out with a summer stock company and puts on Blackface (and a ‘darkie’ accent) as a disguise. Oy veh!

DOUBLE-BILL: *A true Hitchcock innocent-man-on-the-run wouldn’t be a detective already on the case, but someone who gets accidently pulled in. Yes? No? Maybe? Well, think of NOTORIOUS/’46, the great collaboration from Hitch & Hecht. There, neither Cary Grant nor Ingrid Bergman could be described as an uninvolved accidental bystander. Or, go in the other direction and check out Hitch’s one & only Screwball, and a pretty good one, MR. & MRS. SMITH/’41. A film made at the specific request of Carole Lombard, the Queen of Screwball, whose rep was made by . . . Ben Hecht in Howard Hawks’ TWENTIETH CENTURY/’34.

No comments: