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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A GIRL, A GUY AND A GOB (1941)

You can really feel the hand of producer (and silent comedy great) Harold Lloyd behind some of the better planned gags in this pleasantly silly comedy, a triangular love farce with a young Lucille Ball wedged between larky sailor George Murphy & rich scion Edmond O’Brien. A programmer from R.K.O., it’s a low-rent YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU/’38 with Lucy in the Jean Arthur spot (sane girl in a slightly crazed family) and O’Brien making like James Stewart (learning to love their loose free-spirited ways).* You’ll note this leaves Murphy a bit out of things; he’s really more best pal than lover, made for the sailor’s life. But the film does a reasonable job finessing the imbalance giving him lots of screen time and bouncy (if overbearing) energy. Pity the script doesn’t do nearly as good a job running the storyline or hiding the dud episodes. No matter, solid journeyman director Richard Wallace knows how to get out quickly when something isn’t working and where to let Lucy show smarts or detonate emotion. Check out her close-up when she figures out who she's really meant for. The pic’s piffle, but likable piffle.

DOUBLE-BILL: *Frank Capra’s YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU remains an unlikely Best Pic Oscar® winner, and a serious misreading of Kaufman/Hart’s far more politically inclined play. But still prime-Capra; expertly done.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Between on-the-job training from Harold Lloyd here, and friendship with Buster Keaton built up during a lot of downtime @ M-G-M later in the decade, Ball earned a veritable Masters² in comedy technique.

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