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Some screenings in this
series take place December 27 - January 1 at the Aero
Theatre in Santa Monica.
Our fourth annual holiday comedy festival offers up another
platter of delicious treats from the days when Hollywood could make folks laugh without
the use of dangerous animals or sharp objects. From enchanting romance to scary
monstersand isnt it sometimes hard to tell them apart?we have a full
score of mirth-making classics to perk you up after a brutal day of shopping
looking for a parking space
or getting stuck in traffic...or reading the
Youll find the well known (THE AWFUL TRUTH, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS,
THE MORE THE MERRIER) as well as the rarely-screened (THEODORA GOES WILD, CLUNY
BROWN, THE EGG AND I) classics here featuring a mob of phenomenally talented
people, including such legendary performers as Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Jean
Arthur, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, W. C. Fields, Fred MacMurray, Claudette Colbert, Judy
Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Bob Hope and more!
Thursday, December 21 - 7:30 PM
Irene Dunne Double Feature:
Newly Restored 35mm Print!
THE AWFUL TRUTH, 1937, Sony Repertory, 92 min. Dir. Leo
McCarey. McCarey won a Best Director Oscar for this side-splitting masterpiece in
which Irene Dunne and Cary Grant decide to divorce
but darn it, it just
doesnt seem to take. With Ralph Bellamy (in his defining "other
man" role), Alex DArcy, (Miss) Cecil Cunningham and Joyce
Compton, who steals the show with her unique rendition of "Gone With The
Wind." >> Also showing at The Aero, December 28.
Newly Restored 35mm Print!
THEODORA GOES WILD, 1936, Sony Repertory, 94
min. Dir. Richard Boleslawski. Irene Dunnes first big comedy role
casts her as a small-town gal with a dark secret: she writes racy best-sellers! When
enamored publisher Melvyn Douglas figures it out, he shows up on her doorstep and
threatens to, uh, expose her if she doesnt give him a tumble! With Thomas
Mitchell, Thurston Hall and Spring Byington; based on a story by Mary McCarthy
(Kevins sister). NOT ON DVD.
Friday, December 22 - 7:30 PM
Domestic Help Double Feature:
RUGGLES OF RED GAP, 1935,
Universal, 92 min. Dir. Leo McCarey. Another McCarey classic stars Charles
Laughton as a veddy proper English valet whos won in a poker game by a man from
the Wild West (Charlie Ruggles). And thus the clash of cultures commences. With Mary
Boland, ZaSu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams and many others. And remember: always
bring the pot to the kettle! NOT ON DVD. >> Also showing at The Aero, December 28.
CLUNY BROWN, 1946, 20th Century Fox,
100 min. Director Ernst Lubitschs last complete film is one of his funniest. Jennifer
Jones is Cluny Brown, a female plumber who winds up working as a maid on an English
estate; in other words, its RUGGLES in reverse. Charles Boyer is delightful
as a penniless Czech intellectual smitten with Cluny and befriended by rich, naive Peter
Lawford. With Helen Walker, the unparalleled C. Aubrey Smith and Una
OConnor, and not one but two Reginalds (Owen and Gardiner).
NOT ON DVD.
Saturday, December 23 - 7:30 PM
Domestic Bliss Double Feature:
THE LONG, LONG TRAILER,
1954, Warner Bros., 96 min. Dir. Vincente Minnelli. Long before VACATION and RV, Lucille
Ball and Desi Arnaz hit the road (though not as the Ricardos) in this
slapstick romp about newlyweds who buy a shiny new trailer and decide to take a
cross-country honeymoon. Needless to say, "theres gonna be a lotta
splainin to do!" With Marjorie "Ma Kettle" Main, Keenan Wynn
and Madge Blake; written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich (FATHER OF THE
Newly Restored 35mm Print!
THE FIRST TIME, 1952, Sony Repertory, 89 min. Dir.
Frank Tashlin. Tashlins live-action directorial debut is a charming domestic
frolic about a couple (Bob Cummings and Barbara Hale) struggling with their
first year of being parents. Plenty of diaper gags ensue
and its narrated by
the baby! With Bill Goodwin and (Miss) Jeff Donnell as the wacky neighbors;
written by Tashlin and the husband-wife team of Hugo Butler and Jean Rouveroland
Robert Aldrich was the associate producer! NOT ON DVD.
Monday, December 25 - 5:00 PM
Preston Sturges Double Feature:
UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, 1948,
20th Century Fox, 105 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Sturges last truly great
comedy has an ingenious premise: symphony conductor Rex Harrison suspects wife Linda
Darnell is cheating on him, and imagines three courses of action as he conducts three
different (and appropriate) pieces of music. As hilarious as it is audacious, this is a
must-see. With Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence, Lionel Stander, and an uproarious
cameo by Edgar Kennedy, who admires the way Rex "handles Handel."
CHRISTMAS IN JULY, 1940,
Universal, 67 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Sturges second feature as director
stars Dick Powell as a humble clerk who thinks hes won a big contest and
starts spending like its, well, you know. Big problem: he doesnt know
hes the victim of a practical joke. Typical madcap mayhem with Ellen Drew,
Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn and the rest of the Sturges Stock
Company. And if you cant sleep at night
films showing at The Aero, December 30.
Tuesday, December 26 - 7:30 PM
Back To Nature Double Feature:
THE EGG AND I, 1947, Universal,
108 min. Dir. Chester Erskine. This riotous cousin of GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE
(see below) stars Fred MacMurray as a city fella who yearns for the simple joys of
farming, and Claudette Colbert as his dutiful but long-suffering wife. This was not
only Universals biggest hit of the late 40s, but the supporting characters of
Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride) were so popular that
they were spun off into another nine features! NOT ON DVD.
ITS A GIFT, 1934,
Universal, 73 min. Dir. Norman Z. McLeod. Considered by some to be The Great
Mans greatest film, this short, sweet W.C. Fields vehicle is little more than
a series of zany sketches loosely tied to his desire to move to California and grow
oranges. Includes the legendary "Mr. Muckle" and "Carl LaFong" scenes,
as well as the hanging mirror and sleeping porch routines. Jean Rouverol, who
co-wrote THE FIRST TIME (see above), plays Fields daughter. >>
Also showing at the Aero, December 27.
Wednesday, December 27 - 7:30 PM
Jack Benny Double Feature:
GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT
HERE, 1942, Warner Bros., 93 min. Dir. William Keighley. George S. Kaufman and
Moss Harts last play was a smash hit about a man who decides to buy a dilapidated
farmhouse in Bucks County, much to the disgust of his wife. But since Jack Bennys
persona was all about stinginess, Warners decided to reverse the roles! But its
still a laff riot, with Ann Sheridan as Bennys rustically-inclined spouse and
great support from Charles Coburn, Hattie McDaniel, Franklin Pangborn anda
genuine coincidencethe future Pa Kettle, Percy Kilbride. And the set was left
over from ARSENIC AND OLD LACE! NOT ON DVD.
ITS IN THE BAG, 1945,
Paramount, 87 min. Dir. Richard Wallace. One of the earliest versions of The
Twelve Chairs, this wonderful vehicle for legendary radio comedian Fred Allen sends
him on a hunt for his inheritance, which has been hidden in one of five chairs (its
a lower-budget film). But no expense was spared on guest stars, including Don Ameche,
William Bendix, Robert Benchley, Rudy Vallee, Binnie Barnes and (of course) Jack
Benny, as well as Minerva Pious as Mrs. Nussbaum (from Freds radio show).
Plus it has maybe the funniest opening credits ever. NOT ON DVD.
Thursday, December 28 - 7:30 PM
Caribbean Fantasy Double Feature:
THE GHOST BREAKERS, 1940,
Universal, 85 min. Dir. George Marshall. After the enormous success of THE CAT AND
THE CANARY, Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard were quickly reteamed in this even
better outing, which sends them to a "haunted" castle on a tiny island off the
coast off Cuba. Not only funny but genuinely spooky as well, with A-list support from Richard
Carlson, Paul Lukas, Anthony Quinn, Tom Dugan, Jack Norton, Noble Johnson (as a
zombie) and top black comic Willie Best. Thirteen years later, Marshall remade this
with Martin and Lewis as SCARED STIFF, and it became a hit all over again.
MR. PEABODY AND THE
MERMAID, 1948, Paramount, 89 min. Dir. Irving Pichel. Delightful comic
romantic fantasy in which William Powell, suffering from mid-life crisis, is
smitten by a beautiful young mermaid (Ann Blyth) while on vacation in the
which doesnt sit particularly well with his wife. Nunnally Johnson
scripted this first and best of all the fishy love stories; Irene Hervey and Andrea
King co-star. NOT ON DVD.
Friday, December 29 - 7:30 PM
Jean Arthur Double Feature:
THE MORE THE MERRIER,
1943, Sony Repertory, 104 min. Dir. George Stevens. Stevens last comedy is a
topical romance about a wartime housing shortage in Washington. Jean Arthur
reluctantly sublets half her apartment to retired millionaire Charles Coburnwho
promptly sublets half of his half to dreamy soldier Joel McCrea! Coburn won
an Oscar for his inspired performance in this captivating film, which was also nominated
for Best Picture, Director, Actress, Story and Screenplay. Remade 23 years later as WALK,
DONT RUNwhich was Cary Grants last film.
Newly Restored 35mm Print!
TOO MANY HUSBANDS, 1940, Sony Repertory, 84
min. Dir. Wesley Ruggles. A delectable comedy from Somerset Maughams play Town
and Country, which essentially puts a gender switch on Enoch Arden: a year
after Fred MacMurray is reported drowned, wife Jean Arthur marries his
partner and best friend Melvyn Douglas
and then Fred turns up very much alive,
forcing the two to compete for her affections. Ironically, that same year, RKO made MY
FAVORITE WIFE, in which its the wife lost at sea! A seldom-seen gem that
hasnt even been shown on TV for many years. NOT ON DVD.
Saturday, December 30 - 7:30 PM
Marriage On The Rocks Double Feature:
Newly Restored 35mm Print!
PHFFFT!, 1954, Sony Repertory, 91 min. Dir. Mark Robson.
Arguably the greatest comedy ever with no vowels in its title, this adorable variation on
THE AWFUL TRUTH finds Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon (in his first starring
role) getting a divorce, only to learn jumping back into the dating pool is a lot harder
than it seems. Jack Carson and a young Kim Novak co-star in this saucy
George Axelrod farce; the title, by the way, came from columnist Walter Winchells
term for a break-up. NOT ON DVD.
EVERYBODY DOES IT, 1949, 20th
Century Fox, 98 min. Dir. Edmond Goulding. Another comic rarity from writer
Nunnally Johnson, in which Celeste Holms dreams of an operatic singing career
are being thwarted by building contractor hubby Paul Douglas interference.
What happens next is too wildly funny to be revealed here. A bravura supporting cast
includes Linda Darnell as a rival singer, Charles Coburn, Millard Mitchell
and George Tobias; based on a story bywe kid you notJames M. Cain! NOT ON DVD.
Monday, January 1 - 5:00 PM
Scary Laughs Double Feature:
COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, 1948, Universal, 83 min. Dir. Charles Barton.
Still considered the greatest horror spoof ever, as Bud and Lou run afoul of
Frankensteins Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman (played straight by Glenn Strange,
Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr.), with the Count intending to install
Lous tiny brain in the Monster. If youve never seen this tour de force in a
theatre with an audience, then you have no better way to ring in the New Year!
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE,
1944, Warner Bros., 118 min. Dir. Frank Capra. The granddaddy of all black
comedies, a tender tale of two sweet old ladies with this odd little habit of poisoning
people, plus their three darling nephews: a homicidal maniac who looks like Boris Karloff
(who created the role on Broadway), a nut who thinks hes Teddy Roosevelt, and worst
of all, a theatre critic. Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre, Jack
Carson and original cast members Josephine Hull and Jean Adair move two
miles a minute under Capras assured direction. Actually filmed in 1941, but it
couldnt be released until the ultra-popular show closed on Broadway!