Sunday, June 6, 2010
Best Supporting Actor reviews: The More the Merrier (1943)
So, the next reviewed movie of our new series, the Best Supporting Actor reviews is The More the Merrier, a delightful comedy taking place in Washington during the housing shortage in WWII. Connie (Jean Arthur) decides to share her apartment as she's a consciencious member of the American nation. Soon, she finds herself in an apartment with an elderly man (Charles Coburn), who turns out to have been a matchmaker in one of his previous lives when he invites another man (Joel McCrea) to live with them. We get everything we can expect from a great screwball comedy: the loser fiancé, the joyeous fight between women and men, hilarious crying scenes, a wedding and scene-stealing actors.
Yes, yes, I know I am a HUGE fan of screwball comedies, so no wonder that I immediately warmed up to this one. Naturally, it cannot reach the brilliance of His Girl Friday or my personal favorite, The Awful Truth, but it's still sooooooooo good.
Jean Arthur was a brilliant-brilliant actress who retired way too soon. She was brilliant in the Frank Capra movies, but this performance is truly her best. Gosh, she cries in such a way that she also makes you cry... from laughter and joy. Her radiant, funny self truly shines the silver screen and it's no exaggeration when I say that she deserved an Oscar for this performance (even though you know how much I love and admire the win of Jennifer Jones).
Joel McCrea gives a bit standard, but still very smart performance as the handsome, but not very bright Joe (who's ferquently called Bill). It's great to see his comic gifts as he's mostly known for his work in western movies. So he also deserves some praise for his amusing job, but a nomination would have been much.
However, I don't have enough words to praise Mr. Charles Coburn, who in this movie gives us a defintion of what's called scene-stealing. His win is not very popular, which is probably due to the fact that he won against the brilliant Claude Rains in Casablanca (who certainly was deserving), but still his performance is so enjoyable. The way he plays an old fool and Cupido at the same time is just amazingly well-balanced. He never really goes over-the-top and a total fool, he really found th right tone. Also, every time when he's on screen, everything becomes even wittier. So in my opinion (and I might be alone again) this is a deserved Oscar.
That screenplay win certainly belonged to Casablanca, but it easily could have won for Best Story. This screenplay is so witty, smart and wise, the lines are just like fireworks: fast and fascinating. Apart from the acting, the screenplay is probably the best thing about this movie.
However, we also must not underestimate the directing skills of George Stevens, who did a real pro job here and also the unfairly unnominated cinematography, which is spectacular in some scenes.
To sum up, I saw a movie, which can entertain anyone, anytime, anywhere and anyway. Pure delight.
Grade: 9/10 A comic masterpiece.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Stevens); Best Actress (Arthur); Best Supporting Actor (Coburn WON); Best Writing, Original Story; Best Writing, Screenplay
My wins: Best Actress and Supporting Actor