Review: ‘Easy Living’

Slapstick farce, incredible and without rhyme or reason, is Paramount's contribution to the cycle of goofy pictures which started with My Man Godfrey (1936). This one is a poor imitation, lacking spontaneity and cleverness.

Slapstick farce, incredible and without rhyme or reason, is Paramount’s contribution to the cycle of goofy pictures which started with My Man Godfrey (1936). This one is a poor imitation, lacking spontaneity and cleverness.

Screenplay by Preston Sturges [from a story by Vera Caspary] is a trivia of nonsense. Mitchell Leisen, who directs, tries to overcome the story faults with elaborate settings and Keystone gags.

Opening portrays Edward Arnold as a Wall Street speculative genius whose mad selling and buying has the street agog with his financial didoes. Conflict starts with an altercation between him and his wife over the purchase of a fur coat. Garment is tossed out of the window and strikes a young stenographer (Jean Arthur) on her way to work. In a jealous fit, Arnold insists the young woman retain the coat and whisks her to the milliner to buy a hat to match.

Meanwhile, the news spreads quickly that the big Wall Street man has a mistress, and Arthur, whose resources are measured in nickels, accepts an elaborate suite in the leading hotel. What she wants most is a cup of coffee, and she goes to the automat to get it. There she meets Ray Milland, son of the Wall Street wizard. He is a waiter in the joint.

Yarns of this sort are likely to get out of hand by introducing low slapstick comedy. When the food throwing ends there is nothing left for the players to do. All semblance of probability has vanished.

Easy Living

Production

Paramount. Director Mitchell Leisen; Producer Arthur Hornblow Jr; Screenplay Preston Sturges; Camera Ted Tetzlaff; Editor Doane Harrison; Music Boris Morros (dir.); Art Director Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegte

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1937. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Jean Arthur Edward Arnold Ray Milland Luis Alberni Mary Nash Franklin Pangborn
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