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Saturday, August 2, 2014


How’d this little British Screwball land @ Gainsborough Pictures, home of romantic bodice-rippers? And how did Val Guest, the guy behind those QUARTERMASS Sci-Fi horror pics, come to meg & script? Just goes to show how little we know of the byways of UK cinema. Margaret Lockwood seems to be having a good time rattling off silly dialogue as a Russian con-artist, out to scam a rich ne’er-do-well with help from an indolent gang of comical White Russian exiles. That’d be hotel empire scion Vic Oliver (a David Niven type), pretty bland as the mark. Still, you can always count on Roland Culver, the Ruskies sedentary leader, for a few dead-on wry line readings. Everyone else works a bit too hard at being funny, funny, funny; but at least they wear you down pleasantly, winding up with a decent .275 comic batting average. Plus, there’s a fun debut by a teenage Jean Simmons as Lockwood’s kid sister.

DOUBLE-BILL: Continue the swanky hotel theme with some real Screwball action: EASY LIVING/’37 with incomparable perfs from Jean Arthur, Ray Milland & Edward Arnold along with one of Preston Sturges’s best early scripts & underrated megging from oft-maligned Mitchell Leisen.

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