ONCE UPON A TIME
1944, Sony Repertory, 89 min, USA, Dir: Alexander Hall

Huckster showman Jerry Flynn (Cary Grant) has to come up with a quick $100,000, or he’ll lose his theater for good. As luck would have it, he stumbles upon a whimsical find that just might be the ticket out of financial woe: a singing, dancing caterpillar that the nation goes wild for. But as reporters and scientists all fight for the inside scoop about this miraculous creature, the turmoil threatens to separate Flynn from his new-found friends, the caterpillar’s ingenuous owner Pinky and the boy’s charming older sister Jeannie.


TOPPER
1937, Sonar Entertainment, 97 min, USA, Dir: Norman Z. McLeod

Cary Grant and Constance Bennett play a wealthy, fun-loving couple who awaken from a sports car accident only to discover that they’re dead. They have to perform at least one good deed to make it into Heaven, and to do that they try to teach their stick-in-the-mud friend Cosmo Topper (Roland Young, Oscar-nominated) how to enjoy life. This sparkling box office hit (which spun off a pair of sequels and a TV series) helped establish Grant as a screwball comedy star of the first order.


THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
1940, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: George Cukor

Katherine Hepburn had been declared “box office poison” before this delightful romantic comedy, adapted from the Broadway play in which she’d starred, revived her career. She plays Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord, who is just about to get married when her ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (James Stewart) enter the picture. Stewart and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart both earned Oscars for this almost unimprovable screwball gem, later remade as the musical HIGH SOCIETY.


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