TO BE OR NOT TO BE
1942, Westchester Films, 99 min, USA, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

The threat posed by Nazi Germany was very real when director Ernst Lubitsch took aim at the Third Reich in this now-classic comedy. Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (in her final role) are married actors in Warsaw when Hitler’s troops invade; they and the rest of their company must give the performances of their lives to save pilot Robert Stack and the Polish resistance from Nazi spies. No less a comedic great than Mel Brooks put his stamp of approval on the film, remaking it in 1983.


TWENTIETH CENTURY
1934, Sony Repertory, 91 min, USA, Dir: Howard Hawks

The granddaddy of all screwballs, as egomaniacal Broadway producer John Barrymore makes a star of shopgirl Carole Lombard (as this picture did in real life), then goes berserk trying to win her back after she leaves him. Totally uncompromising in every respect, this is a flat-out masterpiece. Hecht and MacArthur’s blistering script is marvelously made flesh by the two stars, as well as Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Charles Lane, Edgar Kennedy and Etienne Girardot.


MY MAN GODFREY
1936, Universal, 94 min, USA, Dir: Gregory La Cava

"You people have confused me with the U.S. Treasury!" barks Eugene Pallette to his spoiled, filthy-rich family, including daughter Carole Lombard, who acquires tramp William Powell during a scavenger hunt and makes him her butler, whereupon he teaches her a few lessons about being human. Comeuppance for the wealthy was sure-fire material during the Depression, and no film ever did it better than this one. With Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, Gail Patrick and Alan Mowbray.


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