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BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE
1938, Universal, 85 min, USA, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

Gary Cooper plays multimillionaire Michael Brandon, who changes wives as if they were underwear (or, in this case, pajama tops) until he marries the daughter (Claudette Colbert) of an impoverished marquis. As lucrative as divorce would be, the young woman is determined to be the final Mrs. Brandon. Director Ernst Lubitsch’s first pairing with the Charles Brackett-Billy Wilder writing team was a match made in heaven.


THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR
1942, Universal, 100 min, USA, Dir: Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder made his Hollywood directorial debut with this wartime farce, cowritten with frequent collaborator Charles Brackett. Ginger Rogers sparkles as a woman who masquerades as a 12-year-old girl to travel by train on a child’s fare; Ray Milland is the military man who shelters the youngster.


BALL OF FIRE
1941, Park Circus/Goldwyn, 111 min, USA, Dir: Howard Hawks

Barbara Stanwyck is sassy, saucy Sugarpuss O’Shea, a wisecracking nightclub singer on the run from mob kingpins. Gary Cooper is good egg Professor Bertram Potts, a naive scholar who meets the crooner while researching slang. Two worlds collide as Sugarpuss hides out with Potts and his nerdy crew of lexicographers in Howard Hawks’ wonderfully hilarious romantic comedy, which garnered four Oscar nominations, including Stanwyck for Best Actress and Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe for Best Original Screenplay.


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