• The Best Screwball Comedies of All Time - Flickchart
  • Screwball comedy film - Wikipedia
  • The Best Screwball Comedies - Ranker

Emerging in the 1930s, screwball comedies were a wild new strain of fast-talking farces involving battles of the sexes and a world forever on the brink of chaos

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The Beginner's Guide: Screwball Comedy | Film Inquiry

Screwball comedies came around in the 1930s, due to the Motion Picture Production Code
Other films from this period in other genres incorporate elements of the screwball comedy. For example, Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 thriller features the gimmick of a young couple who find themselves handcuffed together and who eventually, almost in spite of themselves, fall in love with one another, and Woody Van Dyke's 1934 detective comedy portrays a witty, urbane couple who trade barbs as they solve mysteries together. Many of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals of the 1930s also feature screwball comedy plots, notably and .

Subgenre - Screwball Comedy | AllMovie

Screwball comedy was tied to a period of transition in American humor that gained momentum by the late 1920s. The dominant comedy character had been the capable cracker-barrel type, such as Will Rogers; it now became an antihero, best exemplified by characters in The New Yorker writings of Robert Benchley (1889–1945) and James Thurber (1894–1961), or Leo McCarey's (1898–1969) silent comedy shorts with Laurel and Hardy. (McCarey would later direct the screwball classic The Awful Truth, 1937). Antiheroic humor is driven by the ritualistic humiliation of the male; screwball comedy merely dresses up the setting and substitutes beautiful people for this farcical battle of the sexes.


Top 10 Screwball Comedies | Classic Film Guru

Hollywood's implementation of the Production Code in 1934 also affected screwball comedy. This same year saw the release of such pioneering examples of the genre as Howard Hawks's and It Happened One Night. Since American censorship has always been more concerned with sexuality than with violence, it hardly seems a coincidence that a genre sometimes referred to as "the sex comedy without sex" should blossom at the same time the code appeared.

A fourth period factor was the film industry's then recent embrace of sound technology. Whereas silent comedy keyed upon the solo-hero status of personality comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, talking pictures were geared toward the verbal interaction of doubled heroes, such as the screwball couple. Even the early sound personality comedian films had a multiple-hero interaction, with the 1930s being the heyday of comedy teams from the celebrated Marx Brothers to period favorites such as Wheeler and Woolsey and the Ritz Brothers. The extension of these manic comedy teams also influenced screwball comedy. A defining trait of the screwball couple was having them act more like broad comedians. They were sophisticates gone silly. Pioneering examples of the sexy but clowning screwball couple include ) and , interacting in zany slapstick situations in Hawks's benchmark Twentieth Century, and Gable and Colbert, pretending to be an argumentative married couple in It Happened One Night.

Classic Film Preview » Top 20 Screwball Comedies

One subgenre of screwball is known as the comedy of remarriage, in which characters divorce and then remarry one another (The Awful Truth, ). Some scholars point to this frequent device as evidence of the shift in the American moral code as it showed freer attitudes about divorce (though the divorce always turns out to have been a mistake).

The Screwball Comedy | Working Words

Born in the early 1930s, during the bleakest years of the Depression, the screwball comedy became a very popular variation of the romantic comedy film. Although the leading characters were usually reconciled to the basic values of polite society by the story's end, most screwball comedies, up until that final reel, were irreverent toward the rich, big business, small town life, government, and assorted other sacred cows, not the least of which was the institution of marriage. Among the unorthodox notions that these movies advocated were the ones that marriage could be fun, that women and men were created equal, and that being bright and articulate was not necessarily a handicap for a woman.

Screwball Comedy | Theatre Orangeville

There were, from the early 1930s to the mid-1940s, well over 200 screwball films, almost all of them dedicated to the celebration of eccentric, unconventional behavior and attitudes and the proposition that life could be a lot of fun in spite of war and a fouled-up economy. These movies frequently offered smart, savvy reinterpretations of such classic folk tale plots as Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and, most especially, Cinderella. Although the plots always dealt with romance, the focal couple might also find themselves involved, while trying to pursue the path of true love, with kidnapping, election campaigns, scandals, runaway leopards, shipwreck, amnesia, divorce, murder, seeming adultery, and all sorts of impersonations.

Screwball Comedy | Lighthouse Festival Theatre

Movies with most of the essential screwball ingredients started to show up on the screen in 1932, notably . Set in Venice, it dealt with a pair of thieves, played by Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall, who set out to fleece wealthy Kay Francis. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a script by Samson Raphaelson, it also made use of several actors who would become part of the screwball stock company throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s - Charles Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton, and Robert Greig (who specialized in grouchy butler parts and worked with everybody from the Marx Brothers to Veronica Lake). The following year saw such films as , which featured Jean Harlow, aided by the energetic Lee Tracy, in a very funny burlesque version of what looked a lot like her own life as a movie star. Things picked up even more in 1934. The most important screwball comedy was Frank Capra's , scripted by Robert Riskin. Claudette Colbert was the runaway heiress who ends up taking a very strenuous cross country bus trip with salty reporter Clark Gable. Backing them up were portly Walter Connolly, an expert at irascibility, and Roscoe Karns. The film swept the Oscars and put Columbia Pictures firmly in the screwball business for the rest of the decade. Also released in 1934 was , adapted from the Dashiell Hammett novel and briskly directed by W.S. Van Dyke. Extremely appealing as the wisecracking husband-and-wife detective team, Myrna Loy and William Powell, went on to make five more movies about Nick and Nora Charles as well as several very good non-mystery comedies, including and .