Comic Spirit

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford is a whodunit detective-comedy starring William Powell and Jean Arthur in what I believe is the only work they did together. Trying to build on Powell’s success two years earlier in The Thin Man, RKO tweaked the Nick and Nora setup by making Powell’s rich and natty Dr. Bradford a reluctant detective,Continue reading “The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)”

Dance Hall (1941)

I love Dance Hall pretty much unreservedly. It is as pure and perfectly made a B-comedy of the period as you could imagine. Made just at the start of 20th Century Fox’s jazz-comedy heyday, it displays all the elements that made them so interesting and fun. All the more puzzling why it’s nearly impossible toContinue reading “Dance Hall (1941)”

Bombshell (1933)

If you’ve never seen Jean Harlow’s Bombshell before, you have to prepare yourself. It’s generally considered one of the great comedies of the 1930s, a surefire member of the Great Comic Canon. But it’s one of the oddest films in there. Imagine screwball marrying a nervous breakdown and having a meta-baby. It’s very funny, butContinue reading “Bombshell (1933)”

The Mad Miss Manton (1938)

The Mad Miss Manton is one of the dozens of comedy-whodunits made in the 1930s following the success of The Thin Man. Although you rarely hear it mentioned as a classic of the period, it’s always praised as one of the funnier films. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda three years before their collaborationContinue reading “The Mad Miss Manton (1938)”


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