Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy anniversary

It was one year ago today that I started blogging about classic cinema. With that in mind, I'd like to recommend a class movie starting with an anniversary celebration: Love Crazy.

William Powell and Myrna Loy team up again, although this time not as Nick and Nora Charles. Here, they're Steve and Susan Ireland, a married couple about to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, Steve gets waylaid by a stuck elevator, and Susan's mother tries to convince Susan that Steve is actually romantically involved with another woman. So, Susan decides she'll file for divorce.

Steve believes there's only one way to stop Susan: if he can be declared insane, the divorce can't go through for six months. So, Steve decides to act insane in order to get the court to declare him so and delay the divorce. Susan, of course, realizes the insanity ploy is just an act, so she decides to get back at Steve by pretending to have an affair with the man in the apartment below (played by Jack Carson). She gets the last laugh, although not in the way she intended: Steve is declared insane and sent to a funny farm out in the suburbs. In order to convince Susan to stay married to him, he'll have to escape from the sanatorium....

Love Crazy is fun on so many levels. Powell and Loy have their usual fantastic chemistry together. Even though you could be watching Libeled Lady all over again, a movie like Love Crazy doesn't feel formulaic. You're having too much fun laughing. There's Powell's attempts to break out of the sanatorium and then, after he does, to keep the police from finding him (which includes shaving off his trademark moustache). Loy is as elegant as ever here, and plays off of everybody well. Florence Bates plays the mother-in-law. She's annoying, and it's easy to see why Powell would want to get out of the apartment when he's supposed to be taking care of her. Jack Carson is, of course, as good as always. He seemed to make a career out of playing smarmy characters, in everything from comedies like this to dramas like Mildred Pierce. Interestingly, Jack Carson's unctuous performance in The Strawberry Blonde was the subject of my first classic movie post one year ago. And since I'm making references back to previous blog posts, watch for the elevator operator. That's Elisha Cook, who played a similar character in Don't Bother To Knock.

The only possibly negative thing about Love Crazy is that some people won't enjoy the politically incorrect portrayal of crazy people. They need to get a sense of humor. For the rest of us, this great comedy is available on DVD, and good for many, many laughs.

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