EASY LIVING. Paramount, 1937. Jean Arthur, Ray Milland, Edward Arnold, Mary Nash, Luis Alberni, Franklin Pangborn, William Demarest. Screenplay by Preston Sturges, from a story by Vera Caspary. Director: Mitchell Leisen. Shown at Cinecon 45, Hollywood CA, September 2009.


    Although this was described as a well known classic (at least to Cinephile attendees), I don’t recall seeing it in the 19 years I’ve been attending the convention, and after one viewing, I can tell you that it’s not a film I would easily forget.

    With a sizzling script by Preston Sturges and direction by Mitchell Leisen that never misses a comic beat, this is, in my opinion, a lost screwball masterpiece.

    When Wall Street tycoon Edward Arnold tosses the expensive sable coat his wife has bought off the balcony of their apartment, it lands on Jean Arthur, ruining her hat, and setting off a chain of improbable but hilarious events that will hit the headlines of every newspaper in the country, turn the stock market upside down, and, in the funniest set piece in the movie, turn an automat into a riotous madhouse.

    Arthur is a delightful madcap, Ray Milland an adroit comic and romantic foil, and every other actor in the film, from co-star Arnold down to the most insignificant walk-on player, performs flawlessly, like the mechanism in a classy Swiss watch.