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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyous, brilliant, unique work of film criticism, May 6, 2010
This review is from: Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (Harvard Film Studies) (Paperback)
This is an extraordinary book, with an extraordinary personality. Its subject is the Hollywood screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, and it is first and foremost a serious work of film criticism, full of literary insight and philosophical speculation (the author is a well-known Harvard philosophy professor, now retired). But it is also full of fun. Laughter lurks everywhere, bubbling continually beneath the surface of the discourse, and Cavell's love of the films (and, not incidentally, his love of Irene Dunne and Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and Rosalind Russell and Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert) is all but palpable. The result is a marriage of the serious and the playful that is, in my opinion, unique -- I know of no other work of literary or film criticism that so joyously celebrates its subject. In the years since the book was originally published in 1981, Cavell's phrase "comedy of remarriage" -- signifying a romance in which a made-for-each-other couple becomes estranged and then finds their way back to a deeper understanding of both themselves and their relationship -- has become standard filmcrit terminology. That's as it should be, because Cavell makes a brilliant case for his thesis, all the time (in a phrase from Emerson that serves as the book's epigraph) carrying the holiday in his eye. Bravo.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)
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