What could top the charm, the outlandishness, the wit, the loveliness of classic Hollywood romantic comedy? The triumph of James Harvey's book is its ability to convey the delights of the genre when it was at its best, during the 1930s and '40s. Though he devotes chapters to major filmmakers such as Frank Capra and Howard Hawks, and stars like Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers, Harvey's focus is on two of the finest directors of the period: Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges. Harvey describes the joys of watching their movies as he offers many intriguing insights into their cinematic styles and comic techniques. One of the best things about this book is its author's willingness to discuss obscure, hard-to-find films. Of course, he covers popular entertainments such as Lubitsch's Ninotchka
, Capra's It Happened One Night
, and Sturges's The Lady Eve
, but he also devotes equal time to little-known, fascinating works like Sturges's The Great Moment
and Lubitsch's Angel
. This is an invaluable companion for anyone interested in learning more about two of Hollywood's most wonderful auteurs or about romantic comedy in general. --Raphael Shargel
From Publishers Weekly
Why is a book titled Romantic Comedy such a depressing read? Two reasons: with the disappearance of the nation's revival houses and the movie studios' hesitation to put all but the most popular classic films of the '30s and '40s on video, many of the marvelous movies Harvey describes here are virtually unavailable to contemporary viewers; and, sadly, they don't make them like they used to. A State University of New York teacher, Harvey is an enthusiastic student and devotee of the genre, and he has assembled a wealth of information about its leading directors and performers. But as hard as he tries in his detailed film descriptions, he can't recreate the unique spark that characterized screwball comedies and their antecedents. Of course he can'tgenerations of filmmakers have failed to revive the screwball spirit, whose kinetic blend of polish, pacing and personality cannot possibly be captured by print alone. Nevertheless, like too many writers on the topic of film, Harvey attempts the impossible, and loses readers in a jumble of transcribed entrances, exits and asides that, regrettably, do not play on the page. This is aggravated by Harvey's tendency to spend his analytical energies on attempts to articulate viewers' reactions to the films he discussestrying to pin down exactly how we feel about Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve, for examplewhich ultimately compels readers to put down the book and head for the video store to see for themselves. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.