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Sunday, May 21, 2017

YOU GOTTA STAY HAPPY (1948)

1948 was pretty late in the day for a Screwball Comedy featuring a flighty runaway bride heiress. But here’s Joan Fontaine as a marriage-phobic rich girl who meets Mr. Right on her wedding night . . . to someone else. Mr. Right? That’d be James Stewart, an entrepreneurial war vet struggling to get his air-freight operation off the ground. Naturally, he misreads the situation in the hotel suite next door, but still comes to the rescue with a secret lift out of town on his freight plane. Anyway you slice it, this is all comic leftovers, made worse by one of those music scores that does the chuckling for you. Happily, the film quickly drops the forced gagging to find a lightly romantic comic rhythm for its mutually attracted (and attractive) leads under journeyman director H. C. Potter. (At his best later this year with even better call-and-response playing from Cary Grant & Myrna Loy in MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE.) The film builds a lot of goodwill as it flies NYC to L.A. with plenty of warm, funny support from Eddie Albert, Percy Kilbride & a clean-shaven Porter Hall among others. The forced comedy returns right at the end, but at least the music cues calm down . . . most of the way.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Mirroring the film plot, Stewart in real life was working for Fontaine (and then husband William Dozier) since it was her company, Rampart Productions, producing.

DOUBLE-BILL: Rampart made its one & only other film this year, LETTER TO AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, a Max Ophüls masterpiece.

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