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Easy Living [VHS] (1937)

Jean Arthur , Edward Arnold , Mitchell Leisen  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold, Ray Milland, Luis Alberni, Mary Nash
  • Directors: Mitchell Leisen
  • Writers: Preston Sturges, Vera Caspary
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr., William LeBaron
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • VHS Release Date: August 4, 1998
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0783228074
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Of all the screenplays Preston Sturges wrote for Paramount before becoming the greatest comic director of his generation, 1937's Easy Living seems the most like something he would have filmed himself--a satirical fable about chance, class, and the absurdity of the American dream. Jean Arthur is a New York secretary riding to work atop a double-decker bus when a fur coat miraculously descends from the sky and settles on her shoulders. The fur, however, has not dropped from Olympus but from the hand of a millionaire (Edward Arnold) who has just tossed it from a nearby roof to punish his wife. But as if it were a magic fleece (the mythical reference is almost certainly intended by the erudite Sturges), it makes its wearer invincible, conferring an aura of prosperity, celebrity, and power on the previously average working girl. No folk tale is complete without a prince: Sturges's is the millionaire's son, Ray Milland, who is trying to pass as an apprentice stockbroker. Directed with a light, elegant touch by Mitchell Leisen, the film lacks the crazy energy it would have had under Sturges's own hand, but this remains one of the great screwball comedies (in a year that also saw The Awful Truth and Nothing Sacred). --Dave Kehr

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Jean Arthur was one of the greatest screen actresses of the 1930s and early 1940s, but because she worked semi-independently (she had non-exclusive contracts with Paramount, RKO, Columbia and United Artists), her combined work has been little seen in these days of box sets. With a great Preston Sturges script, and expert direction by the much-underrated Mitchell Leisen, EASY LIVING is one of the best examples of her work: a working-class girl (Arthur) is sitting atop an open-air bus when a millionaire (the inimitable Edward Arnold) flings his wife's fur coat out the window and it lands on Arthur's head. Hilarious complications ensue, which include a young Ray Milland as the millionaire's son and the always-great Mary Nash (Hepburn's mother in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY) as the coat-less wife. But it is Jean Arthur, whose wonderful combination of dizziness and indomitablility, that make this spin merrily along, and it is a delight form start to finish. Columbia (Sony) has the bulk of the best Arthur titles in its library (MR. DEEDS, MR. SMITH, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, MORE THE MERRIER, TOO MANY HUSBANDS, TALK OF THE TOWN, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS), but the MCA/Paramount titles are also pretty prime (A FOREIGN AFFAIR, THE PLAINSMAN, SHANE and EASY LIVING), and a mini-box set would be greatly anticipated. MCA has done extremely well by several of its great Paramount stars (Lombard, Dietrich) but we need more Colbert, more Stanwyck, deHavilland, Rogers, Russell, Goddard, Fontaine et al. The announcement of some other gems on their release schedule (the divine MIDNIGHT and THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR) is cause for celebration; let's hope this really is the beginning of a great trend!
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RARE COMEDY DELIGHT. August 30, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
In retrospect, this little 1937 flick holds up as one of the funniest screwball comedies of the thirties. Loud millionaire J.B. Ball tells his extravagantly aggressive wife (Mary Nash) that she cannot keep her $58,000 Sable coat. Ball throws it out of the upper window of their mansion where it happens to fall right on top of bewildered Mary Smith (Arthur), who's travelling on an open-air bus. Mary's a poor gal who works for a magazine similar to BOY'S LIFE. Arnold is seen buying Mary a new hat by pussy-cat faced gossip Franklin Pangborn and soon she gets more than just a hat: practically all of New York is at her feet. The scene where she and Milland wreak havoc at the now-obsolete automat is truly inspired and hilarious, as is Luis Alberni - as Louis Louis - when he shows Mary her new "quarters" -- i.e. "And make it snappa...Thaank Yewww". The rather offbeat cast works wonders with the great Preston Sturges script: Milland and Nash make a weird son and wife to the always good (and always loud) Edward Arnold, but somehow it makes for better screwball; the whacko cast helps push the one-joke material through to a happy finish, and the movie helped establish Jean Arthur as a comedienne of the first rank. P.S. While listening to Arthur's wonderfully off-beat voice, I realised it reminded me a little of Julie Harris (!).
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine, early screenplay by Preston Sturges! December 26, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold, a baby Ray Milland, and the beginnings of what became known as the Sturges Players combine for a tight little screwball comedy. This was not available on video until just recently, but if you enjoy the old madcap comedies, ala MY MAN GODFREY, NOTHING SACRED, and Preston Sturges romps like PALM BEACH STORY, THE LADY EVE, etc, I'm confident in recommending EASY LIVING. I didn't notice Sturges wrote it until the final credits, but that didn't alter my feelings. This is an under-appreciated jewel!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a movie for today August 21, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Day-traders alert. Cut yourself on every line of this witty, fast-paced and knowing movie that glories in the talents of Jean Arthur, et al. As tight as a fist, construction-wise, it traverses ostentation, banking (and ostentation), stock market manipulation (and ostentation) and that thing called real-honest-to-goodness, in-the-belly hunger. Arnold, Milland and the (forgive me) unnamed actor who plays the hotel proprietor (should have stayed cook) to hilarious effect are all wonderful. But Jean Arthur demonstrates yet again what an underrated talent she was: energy, sweet timing and mercurial delights - poured into the camera.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Depression Era Screwball Comedy October 13, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
Easy Living is one of the best screwball comedies of the depression era. Jean Arthur (Talk Of The Town, Shane) is a poor working girl who comes into sundry luxuries coincidentally, causing the loss of her job and apartment. Edward Arnold (Meet John Doe, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington), is her anonymous benefactor, a well-intentioned but cantankerous prominent banker who throws his wife's extravagant fur coat out the window of their skyscraper. It lands on Arthur, who tries to return it, but he makes a gift of it to her, and insists on replacing her damaged hat with an expensive one as well, making her late for work, causing the job loss which in turn costs her to miss paying rent.

But the hat store proprietor (Franklin Pangborn) recognized Arnold and spreads the misinformation that Arthur is his mistress. One thing leads to another, and she finds herself put up rent free in a grand hotel suite. Meanwhile, she meets Arnold's son (Ray Milland, of Lost Weekend, Panic In Year Zero, etc.) by coincidence. He's trying to make it on his own as a waiter in an automat, so she has no idea of his connection with Arnold, and vice versa. Milland's character having the same last name, of course, as his father, reinforces the misinformation propogated by hotel clerks, stock brokers, and others, resulting in an interesting situation exploited for plenty of laughs.

The script was written by Preston Sturges and while I think the story could have been improved, the performances by Arthur and Arnold make it pleasant and funny. Arthur is cute and funny as ever, and Arnold is funnier than expected due to his disagreeable and argumentative - though honest and generous - character, which his performance makes work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very sweet
Published 3 hours ago by Susan Sands
4.0 out of 5 stars Jean Arthur is charming!
A cute story which I can watch over and over!
Published 3 days ago by KiddyLitLover
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy Jean Arthur you'll love this
If you enjoy Jean Arthur you'll love this. If you don't know Jean Arthur's work and you enjoy old romantic comedies then I suggest you check her out. Read more
Published 1 month ago by VintageMovieLover
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth watching
I found this movie loud and obnoxious with a weak and unbelievable plot. Save your money for the movie "Midnight" if you want a good old time comedy with an interesting... Read more
Published 4 months ago by telitru
3.0 out of 5 stars Very different but enjoyable.
This is another different one, but it is well worth watching, especially if you're a lover of the older comedies!
Published 5 months ago by Diane Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Give me a Jean Arthur Movie Anytime
EASY LIVING is a good, fun, movie to watch. Can you believe that a fur coat could cost $80,000 way back when?

Funny. Beautiful main characters. Good story line. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tina
4.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love Jean Arthur!
Not her best movie and sometimes more silly than funny but it is still entertaining and compared to the drivel on television now...
Published 6 months ago by McAdory
5.0 out of 5 stars always liked it
i love this movie, always like to watch Jean Arthur and have enjoyed many of her movies. great old movie
Published 6 months ago by jmg
5.0 out of 5 stars Really cute
Love Jean Arthur, and this fun movie is charming! Enjoyable, funny storyline, and lots of laughs! Would recommend to all classic movie lovers and Jean Arthur fans in particular.
Published 7 months ago by Emilee
4.0 out of 5 stars Too Madcap
This is an example of screwball comedy that were very popular in the mid to late 1930s in America. This film has a great cast(which does a great job of acting) and the plot is... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
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