Friday, January 26, 2018

"It's a Wonderful World" (1939) -- Initial Thoughts

How had I never seen this before, or even really heard of it?  I mean, I knew Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert had made a movie together, but I really knew nothing about it, or even what it was called.  So I went into this only knowing what the back of the DVD case said:  it's a screwball comedy about a private detective and a poetess.

Which is exactly what it is.  I'm not always a huge fan of screwball comedies, because so often I get frustrated by the way the characters just get themselves into more and more trouble by being nonsensical.  But there are a few screwball comedies that don't adhere to the nonsensical-characters trope, and those I enjoy.

P.I. Guy Johnson (James Stewart) has been keeping a wealthy man with a penchant for liquor and women out of trouble in preparation for his upcoming wedding.  But when the man gets framed for murder, Johnson gets sent to prison for hiding him from the police.  On the train ride to prison, Johnson discovers a clue that will prove his client's innocence and save him from the electric chair, so he jumps off the train.  (Because, you know, that's rational and everything.  I always jump off trains when I discover evidence that the police might be interested in.)(In his defense, though, the police do very listening to rationality themselves.)

Anyway, his escape is witnessed by a random passerby named Edwina Corday (Claudette Colbert).  He steals her car.  He kidnaps her.  He kicks her out of the car.  He re-kidnaps her.  They yell at each other for about 45 minutes, and then fall in love.  And, of course, he solves another murder, proves his employer's innocence, and saves another man's life.  Much of which he does while wearing a Boy Scout uniform that's 10 sizes too big and glasses so thick they make Coke bottles seem flimsy.  And, because he's Jimmy Stewart, he pulls off being both abrasive and adorable at the same time, and I'm not at all sure how.

Is this a brilliant comedy?  Well, my dad and I laughed and laughed while watching it.  My mom fell asleep.  So that tells you something, though I'm not sure what ;-) 

Is this movie family friendly?  I think so.  There's a little bit of very mild innuendo here and there, and some slapstick violence.  Lots of bashing people over the head so they'll fall down with a silly expression on their face, that sort of thing.  No cussing :-)

16 comments:

  1. Wow, Jimmy Stewart was in It's a Wonderful Life and It's a Wonderful World? Intresting. I absolutely love Jimmy Stewart, so I will have to see this.

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    1. MC, that was basically my first thought when I saw this on the shelf! What a coincidence about the titles! If you love Jimmy Stewart, you should get a kick out of this. It starts kinda slow, but builds up steam as it goes.

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  2. That sounds quite wacky and fun! I'll keep my eye out for it!

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    1. DKoren, yes, it's definitely both of those. Good for when you need something light to brighten you up for a while.

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  3. Lots of silliness, eh? ;-) Probably not exactly my kind of silliness. But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  4. Logic is not something you should bring into a screwball comedy. That's why it's termed "screwball"...:-D. Some of my favorite old movies (ones that don't involve either John Wayne or war scenes, anyway) are screwball comedies. Loved "Arsenic and Old Lace", "Topper", "Bringing Up Baby", "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer", "Monkey Business" Hmmm. seems to be a pattern... maybe I just like Cary Grant in screwballs... but then I liked "Harvey", too. But in defense of that I'm pretty screwy myself so maybe it's just an affinity based on my own mind state.

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    1. Quiggy, I think it's not so much the lack of logic as the lack of sensible characters. Or the way there's often one sensible character who's surrounded by loonies. Sometimes that just gets to me. Maybe too much like my life? Lol.

      I love Monkey Business, and I do enjoy Arsenic and Old Lace. NOT a fan of Bringing Up Baby. And is Harvey considered a screwball comedy? I suppose it could be.

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    2. Harvey's listed as one on the site where I went to cull some names of screwball comedies (my memory not being what it used to be for me to list many off the top of my head). I just took it for granted they knew what they were doing.

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    3. It's pretty wacky, so they're probably right.

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  5. Thanks for bringing up this one...I'm going to have to watch it now.

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    1. Stanley, it's a fun one! Hope you can find it.

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  6. I feel like I should know this, but I've always wondered if the title of this film influenced the naming of the title of It's a Wonderful Life.

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    1. Tom, I have zero idea, but it's possible.

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  7. Haha! Sounds like I would enjoy this. ;)

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    1. Olivia, I think you likely would :-)

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