Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Thomas Mitchell is the editor of a small-town Connecticut newspaper who is in hot water for running a scandalous serialized novel. We soon discover that the author of this best-seller, Carolyn Adams, is actually Theodora Lynn (Irene Dunne), an unmarried woman of a certain age who has never really "lived" (in the Auntie Mame sense). She lives with her aunts and has kept her writing career a secret, but after a visit to her New York publisher, an illustrator (Melvyn Douglas) hears her story and, intrigued, follows her back to Connecticut where he decides it's his mission to liberate Dunne from her stifling little world. He takes a job as a gardener for the aunts so he can be close to Dunne and hounds her to death about her double life until finally, having fallen in love with Douglas, Dunne takes a stand and comes out, so to speak, to her aunts and the town ladies. However, after this, Douglas races back to the big city and it turns out he's living his own hypocritical double life: he's been in a loveless marriage for years but can't get a divorce as it might damage his father's political career. Dunne turns the tables on Douglas, moves into his apartment, announces to the press that she is Carolyn Adams, and sets about to liberate Douglas.

This is a well-regarded example of screwball comedy and much of it does work well; Dunne is especially delicious in the scenes in which she is getting her revenge in New York. As in most screwball films, there is a strong supporting cast, including Mitchell, Spring Byington, Thurston Hall, and Robert Greig. But Douglas is the sticking point for me; as in BRINGING UP BABY, this is a screwball comedy that ultimately doesn't work for me because I can't get past the irritating nature of a major character who I'm supposed to see as charming. Still, this is generally a solid production that I'm not sorry to have seen. [TCM]

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