Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

Typically unhinged comedy of errors from Preston Sturges, the cinematic Carl Hubbell. Preston's brand of loose-cannon insanity generally lives and dies by its leads; fortunately, Joel McCrea (a Sturges regular) and Claudette Colbert are up to the task of keeping the film slightly grounded so that it doesn't soar off into space. (Colbert is especially fetching here.) The plot careens from one setpiece to another like a drunk in a bumper car. The blithe destructive anarchy of the Ale & Quail is a highlight, plus there's rapid-fire wordplay, a scene where Rudy Vallee sings and a poor foreign man named Toto (a cinematic precursor to Donny from The Big Lebowski). And then there's the ending, which has a crazed logic all its own. It's not as sharp or funny as Sullivan's Travels or The Lady Eve (almost nothing is as funny as The Lady Eve), but it's still a good time.

Grade: B+


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