The Blonde at the Film, in her recent post on Bringing Up Baby (1938) describes the Screwball genre perfectly:
After It Happened One Night (1934), which is generally considered to be the first screwball, the genre flourished throughout the 1930s and into the early 1940s. The elements that make up screwball include farcical situations, witty, quick repartee, slapstick, mistaken or fluid identities, secrets, mismatches in social class, journeys away from civilization and into the country, a battle of the sexes romance plot where the madcap woman pursues the man and sometimes “liberates him” with her wackiness, and a topsy-turvy world where normal reality doesn’t apply.
Example: Carole Lombard & Fred MacMurray
Now, according to that definition, It Happened One Night doesn't sound as much of a Screwball film as many of the later screwball films that were made. Here is another definition from an article on Preston Sturges:
...an archetypal screwball comedy, a genre that flourished in Hollywood from 1934 to 1944, derived its energy from setting oppositions (male-female, rich‑poor, fast-slow, honest-crooked, innocent-experienced, and many more) into conflict.Several of these can be applied to It Happened One Night. So as you can see, the definition has several facets. This post over at The Vintage Cameo describes the film in terms of a Romantic Comedy.
This is the definition of a Romantic Comedy (past and present) according to Wikipedia:
... films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily." Another definition states that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled." Romantic comedy films are a certain genre of comedy films as well as of romance films, and may also have elements of screwball comedies.
In a typical romantic comedy the two lovers tend to be young, likeable, and apparently meant for each other, yet they are kept apart by some complicating circumstance (e.g., class differences, parental interference; a previous girlfriend or boyfriend) until, surmounting all obstacles, they are finally wed. A wedding-bells, fairy-tale-style happy ending is practically mandatory.
William Powell & Myrna Loy
Now that we have defined what a Romantic Comedy is, here is the line-up for the month:
- If You Could Only Cook (1935) - Jean Arthur & Herbert Marshall
- Theodora Goes Wild (1936) - Irene Dunne & Melvyn Douglas
- Libeled Lady (1936) - William Powell & Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy & Jean Harlow
- Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) - Myrna Loy & Melvyn Douglas
- The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) - James Cagney & Bette Davis
- The More the Merrier (1943) - Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, Joel McCrea
- Confidentially Connie (1953) - Janet Leigh & Van Johnson
- Sunday in New York (1963) - Jane Fonda & Rod Taylor
- Sex and the Single Girl (1964) - Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Lauren, Bacall, & Henry Fonda
Jane Fonda & Rod Taylor
*Romantic Comedy Month will begin right after the Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon (May 9-12) and end in mid June. There will be no Netflix Movie Mondays during this time.