Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Film Review: Breakfast for Two (1937)

Barbara and Herbert in their first of two films together.
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TCMDb: A Texas heiress competes with a gold digger for the love of a playboy.

     Anyone that knows me, and knows me well, knows that I hate--detest, abhor, loathe--getting up early. I am, by nature, a nocturnal person and prefer to stay up late in the night, and then sleep late into the day. There have been a few times, however, when I've set the alarm clock for an ungodly time (anytime before 11:00 is ungodly to me, though 9:00 and up is manageable), and let that barbaric beeping sound jar me out of a very nice sleep at the tender time of 5:55 so I could watch Breakfast for Two at 6:00.
     It was, like a good movie always is, worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, it had me laughing almost nonstop.
     Have you ever wondered what makes a "screwball comedy" a screwball comedy? The good ole' web gives this definition: The screwball comedy is a genre of comedy which is unconventional, goes in different directions, and behaves in unexpected ways. Now that we have the definition of the word screwball comedy, lets do a little check list to see if Breakfast for Two is really a screwball comedy or if it's just been masquerading as one.
Put 'em up, Duke, or I'm gonna slug ya!
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     The first item on the list is unconven-tionality. Well, for this one you've got to dig deep inside yourself and ask: Does a Texas heiress sparring with a playboy after she's just bought his house because she's trying to make him realize he needs to grow up and be a man sound conventional? 'Tis a very good question. You can make your own decision on this, but just so it'll fit into my little check off list, I'm going to say, in the fashion of Gary Cooper: Nope.
     Second, does it go in different directions? Well now, let's see. You know from the get-go that Herbert and Barbara are going to get together--it's just inevitable, but do you really expect her to buy his business that's been in the family for generations, and then give him the role of vice-president, hoping that it'll jar him out of his playboy ways, and then when that doesn't work and he's about to marry an aspiring "actress" who only really wants his money, she concocts all these ways to try and stop the wedding (the first try is the most hilarious to me)? Sure is sounding like a screwball comedy to me.
Down Pee-wee!
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  Third item on the list: Does it behave in unexpected ways? Barbara's character is named Valentine, there's a Great Dane named Pee-Wee, a butler named Butch (played by the ever sputt-ering Eric Blore), a brainless, money hungry blonde, a boxing duel (you can only guess who wins) between Barbara and Hebert, a couple attempts of a wedding, and a Texas uncle bursting in on the first attempt at said wedding and point an accusing finger at the blonde and shout: "That woman is the mother of my baby!" The first time I heard that line, I laughed so hard and freely that I forgot it was only about seven in the morning and so I got in trouble for laughing too loud . . . but I didn't care; it was too funny not to laugh at.
     So, has Breakfast for Two been masquerading as a screwball comedy, or has it been the real McCoy the whole time? I'm going to say, Yup. It's the real McCoy (besides, if I didn't, I'd have to answer to the Miss, and it looks like she'd win).
That's what I thought.
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     Leonard Maltin gave this picture a 2.5/4 stars, but I think it deserves in the very least, a 3.5/4 stars. If you would to watch this film it's being shown on TCM Tuesday, May 29 at 6:45 P.M (now why in the heck couldn't they have show it at that time when I watched it?). I suggest you do, if only for the scene that I mentioned beforehand. If you're a Missy fan, you cannot miss it. I read that Barbara took on this role because she wanted to do a happy picturing after just having finished Stella Dallas--if that's the case, I say she did a great job of choosing. This film is a hoot and a half, and I'm sure she had a lot of fun filming it.

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