Skip to content

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Movie Challenge……..The More the Merrier (1943)

Of all the movies that Kristina over at Speakeasy has challenged me to watch in our ongoing series it’s this one that I was surprised the most at not having seen before. I frequently enjoy catching a screwball comedy from the genre’s golden age so I am not quite sure why I hadn’t caught up to this Oscar winner previously from director George Stevens.

More-The-Merrier

Overcrowding in Washington D.C. is the backdrop for this Jean Arthur gem. It’s taking place during WW2 and the city is having a population explosion meaning there is nowhere for incoming visitors to land a room for themselves. This includes Charles Coburn whose has secured a hotel reservation but has arrived two days early. Not to worry as he’s a resourceful old codger.

more-the-merrier-charles-coburn-jean-arthur-1943

Doing her part for the war effort, Arthur has decided to sublet half of her apartment through an advertisement in the newspaper. Along comes Coburn in a wonderful bit as he first cons the dozen or so people waiting in line to see it and then fast talks Arthur into why he should be allowed to stay. After all he’s just a harmless old timer. I love the clip where he looks quite flattered that Arthur suggests they shouldn’t be seen exiting the premises together in the morning.

morethemerrierarthur

Arthur has everything regimented for the two of them but that’s all going out the window when Coburn decides to sublet half of his half to tall and handsome Joel McCrea. Just how long can he keep Arthur from finding out is his next problem. From the moment our two young roommates finally bump into each other, hearts are skipping a beat. Coburn senses what could be and goes into his cupid act.

Like all screwball comedies there has to be an entanglement of sorts. This time out Arthur is actually engaged to stuffy Richard Gaines and seems reserved to a rather dull life in the political field. By coincidence it’s Gaines that has brought Coburn to D.C. and they are opposing figures in the world of politics. It shouldn’t take much to make Gaines out a boring lifeless fiance while turning McCrea into the man of Arthur’s dreams. One who promises romance and excitement.  Arthur is really good here as deep down she knows it and her eyes give her away.

With a couple of plot twists and the word scandal tossed about Coburn’s mission is well on it’s way. Gaines of course has no room in his career for anything scandalous and from here it should come as no surprise where this is all headed.

more the merrier4

This film reunited Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn. The pair had already filmed a first rate comedy previously. The Devil and Miss Jones in 1941 for which Coburn was nominated by the Academy for a Best Supporting Actor award. He lost that time but this role would win him the golden statuette. Charles Coburn is one of those character actors that can a turn a poor film into a mediocre one and a good one into a great one. Like Sydney Greenstreet he began his film career at the advanced age of 56. He would remain busy in film and television up to his death in 1961.

Leading man Joel McCrea works fine with Arthur and the two of them deliver one of the more sexy/steamy scenes of the era while camped out on her porch late at night as Joel goes about seducing her. McCrea is of course most familiar to fans of the western despite appearing in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent. For me he’ll always be a man who just wants to enter his house justified thanks to his role in Ride the High Country.

more-the-merrier.jpg5

Jean Arthur is one of the great comedy actresses of the era and one should seize any opportunity to catch her films. Comedies like Easy Living and her work in Mr. Deeds stand out as does the earlier film with Coburn, Miss Jones. The year before this film she had worked for George Stevens with Cary Grant and Ronald Colman in the comedy The Talk of the Town. She would quit the cinema after working once again with Stevens on Shane in 1953. Not a bad way to go out.

No stranger to comedy, George Stevens had a number of successful titles under his belt including Woman of the Year and Gunga Din. From here Stevens would find himself along with John Ford and company in the heat of filming WW2 battles and be the first man with a camera to enter the Dachau concentration camp as was documented recently in the non-fiction book Five Came Back. Along with Shane, Giant and A Place in the Sun were still yet to come.

stevensg

Merrier is a fun film with the three leads giving us a wonderful time at the movies. While I hate to be critical I must say that I thought the film lost it’s pacing down the stretch with the latter half not matching the comedy timing of the first hour. Given a choice I’d probably re-watch the earlier Arthur/Coburn teaming The Devil and Miss Jones from 1941 but that shouldn’t deter you from catching this delightful movie.

Now please head over to see what Kristina has to say about the always reliable and somewhat underrated Van Heflin as he saddles up for a western with a couple of fifties heart throbs.

8 Comments »

  1. I love the scene where they’re reading the Dick Tracy comic out loud 🙂 So right about Coburn improving any movie he was in, love him and yet I haven’t seen The Devil and Miss Jones! Gotta get on that. McCrea is such a great romantic lead especially when teamed with the screwball actresses. Glad you enjoyed.

  2. I’ve never seen this film myself, and I like McCrea and screwball comedy. Funny how some movies just slip by – another one to look out for in the future.

  3. I agree, I thought ‘The Devil and Miss Jones’ was more entertaining, but ‘The More the Merrier’ was still fun. I recently watched ‘You Can’t Take It With You’, and Jean was quite good in that one, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: