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The More the Merrier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The More the Merrier
The More the Merrier - poster.jpg
Theatrical poster, with a fanciful imagining of the characters' relationships.
Directed byGeorge Stevens
Screenplay byRichard Flournoy
Lewis R. Foster
Frank Ross
Robert W. Russell
Based onTwo's a Crowd
screenplay
by Garson Kanin (uncredited)[1]
Produced byGeorge Stevens
StarringJean Arthur
Joel McCrea
Charles Coburn
CinematographyTed Tetzlaff
Edited byOtto Meyer
Music byLeigh Harline
Color processBlack and white
Production
company
Columbia Pictures
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 13, 1943 (1943-05-13)[2]
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$878,000[3]
Box office$1.8 million (US rentals)[4]

The More the Merrier, a 1943 American comedy film made by Columbia Pictures, makes fun of the housing shortage during World War II, especially in Washington, D.C. The picture stars Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn. The movie was directed by George Stevens. The film script — from "Two's a Crowd", an original screenplay by Garson Kanin (uncredited) — was written by Richard Flournoy, Lewis R. Foster, Frank Ross[Note 1] and Robert Russell. [1]

This film was remade in 1966 as Walk, Don't Run starring Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton. The setting was changed to Tokyo which had experienced housing shortages due to the 1964 Summer Olympics.

Plot

Retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle arrives in Washington, D.C. as an adviser on the housing shortage and finds that his hotel suite will not be available for two days. He sees an ad for a roommate and talks the reluctant young woman, Connie Milligan, into letting him sublet half of her apartment. Then Dingle runs into Sergeant Joe Carter, who has no place to stay while he waits to be shipped overseas. Dingle generously rents him half of his half.

When Connie finds out about the new arrangement, she orders them both to leave, but she is forced to relent because she has already spent the men's rent. Joe and Connie are attracted to each other, though she is engaged to bureaucrat Charles J. Pendergast. Connie's mother married for love, not security, and Connie is determined not to repeat her mistake. Dingle happens to meet Pendergast at a business luncheon and does not like what he sees. He decides that Joe would be a better match for his landlady.

Joe and Connie talk about his past romances.
Joe and Connie talk about his past romances.

One day, Dingle goes too far, reading aloud to Joe from Connie's private diary, including her thoughts about Joe. When she finds out, she demands they both leave the next day. Dingle takes full blame for the incident. Connie allows Joe to remain in the apartment as he has only a few days before being shipped out to Africa. Joe asks Connie to go to dinner with him. She is reluctant to do so, but decides to go if Pendergast does not call for her by 8:00 that evening. At 8:00, she and Joe are ready to leave, but her nosy teenage neighbor seeks her advice and delays her until Pendergast arrives. Joe spies on the two of them from the window. When the young neighbor asks what he is doing, Joe flippantly tells him he is a Japanese spy.

Dingle calls Joe to meet him for dinner. There, Dingle bumps into the couple (Pendergast and Connie) and pretends he is meeting Connie for the first time, forcing Joe to do the same. Dingle engages Pendergast in talk about his work, eventually maneuvering him up to his hotel room so that Connie and Joe can be alone together.

Joe takes Connie home. The two talk about their romantic pasts and even kiss. From their separate rooms, Joe confesses that he loves her. She tells him she feels the same way, but refuses to marry him, as they will soon be forced apart when he leaves for Africa. Their talk is interrupted by the arrival of the FBI, who have been called to investigate Joe for spying, thanks to the young neighbor. Joe and Connie are taken to FBI headquarters. They identify Dingle as a fellow apartment occupant who can testify that they are only roommates. Dingle arrives, bringing Pendergast as a character witness. It comes out during questioning that Joe and Connie live at the same address. When they ask Mr. Dingle to tell Pendergast that their living arrangement is purely innocent, he denies knowing them.

Outside the station, Dingle says he lied to protect his reputation. Taking a taxi home, they discuss what to do to avoid a scandal. Connie grows angry when Pendergast thinks only of himself. When another passenger in the shared cab turns out to be a reporter, Pendergast runs after him to try to stop him from writing about the cohabiting situation. Dingle assures Connie that if she marries Joe, the crisis will be averted, and they can get a quick annulment afterwards. The couple follow his advice and wed after flying to South Carolina, where a license can be more quickly obtained than in DC. Returning home, Connie allows Joe to spend his final night in her apartment. As Dingle had foreseen, Connie's attraction to Joe overcomes her prudence; the intimacy is facilitated by the fact that the wall separating Connie's and Joe's bedrooms has vanished, presumably thanks to Dingle. Outside, Dingle puts up a card on the apartment door, showing that it belongs to Sgt. and Mrs. Carter.

Cast

Production

Jean Arthur got the ball rolling on The More The Merrier, paying Garson Kanin $25,000 to adapt his short story "Two's A Crowd" into a screenplay. She hoped to take the role of Connie and serve out her contract with Columbia Studios, which had become irksome due to her deteriorating relationship with studio boss Harry Cohn.[6] Kanin co-wrote the script with Robert Russell and Frank Ross, Arthur's husband. Arthur also brought director George Stevens (with whom she had recently worked on The Talk of the Town (1942)) and co-star Joel McCrea to the project.[7]

Principal photography took place between September 11 and December 19, 1942, with additional "inserts" filmed in late January 1943.

George Stevens, known as a perfectionist, filmed many takes of each scene and shot from multiple angles. McCrea recalled that studio boss Harry Cohn approached him during production, saying “‘What’s that son of a bitch Stevens doing, making all that film? He used more exposed film in one picture than in any five pictures I’ve ever made.”[8]

Stevens was working under a three-film contract at Columbia Studios, and completed the terms of his contract with The More the Merrier. He had previously shot two Cary Grant vehicles at Columbia – melodrama Penny Serenade (1941) and comic drama The Talk of the Town (1942).[9] Immediately after finishing work on The More the Merrier he went to North Africa with the Army’s combat photography unit. The More the Merrier was Stevens' last comedy, as he turned to drama and westerns after the war.

In early drafts, The More The Merrier was titled "Two's a Crowd". Other titles considered included "Washington Story", "Full Steam Ahead", "Come One, Come All" and "Merry-Go-Round", which actually tested best with audiences. Washington officials, though, objected to a title and plot elements that suggested "frivolity on the part of Washington workers". The More the Merrier was finally approved as the title.[9]

Joel McCrea was exhausted by fall 1942, having already shot three movies that year, and signed on to The More the Merrier only at Jean Arthur's request.[10] The pair had a working relationship dating back more than a decade, having met on pre-code romantic melodrama The Silver Horde (1930). McCrea was initially suspicious that the studio was willing to cast him as Joe Carter, feeling that if it was a good part they would have pursued Cary Grant or Gary Cooper, however the role later became his own favourite of his comic performances.[11]

Reception

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times enjoyed The More the Merrier, calling the film "as warm and refreshing a ray of sunshine as we've had in a very late spring".[12] He praised all three leads, the writers, and the director, singling out Coburn as "the comical crux of the film" who "handles the job in fine fettle".[12]

Variety called it "a sparkling and effervescing piece of entertainment."[13]

Harrison's Reports wrote, "Excellent entertainment! George Stevens' masterful direction, and the fine acting of Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn, make this one of the brightest and gayest comedies to have come out of Hollywood in many a season."[14]

David Lardner of The New Yorker wrote, "As is the case with a lot of madcap comedies, this one tends to fall part somewhat toward the end, when all the accumulated mixups are supposed to be resolved without a complete sacrifice of logic but by no means are. As long as these mixups are purely being established, however, and nobody's worrying about clearing them up, everything is fine."[15]

TV Guide characterizes it as "a delightful and effervescent comedy marked with terrific performances" and praises Coburn as "nothing short of superb, stealing scene after scene with astonishing ease".[16] Time Out Film Guide notes, "Despite a belated drift towards sentimentality, this remains a refreshingly intimate movie."[17]

It has a 94% fresh rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website based on 16 reviews.[18]

Awards

This movie was nominated for 5 Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actor (for Coburn), Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Original Story (although Kanin was not credited) and Best Writing, Screenplay. It won Best Supporting Actor for Coburn. Stevens won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director.

Home media

The film was released on Region 1 DVD.[citation needed]

References

Notes

  1. ^ Frank Ross was Jean Arthur's husband at the time.[5]

Citations

  1. ^ a b Oller, John (1999). Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew. New York: Limelight Editions. p. 140. ISBN 0-87910-278-0. OCLC 40674992.
  2. ^ Hanson, Patricia King, ed. (1999). American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1941-1950. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 1609. ISBN 0-520-21521-4.
  3. ^ Dick 1993, p. 160.
  4. ^ "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  5. ^ Sarvady et al. 2006, p. 49.
  6. ^ Oller, John (1997). Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew. Limelight. p. 140. ISBN 9780879102784.
  7. ^ Eliot, George (2008-05-08), "Arthur's Return", Adam Bede, Oxford University Press, retrieved 2021-11-26
  8. ^ BlondeAtTheFilm (2014-05-01). "The More the Merrier (1943)". The Blonde at the Film. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  9. ^ a b Steffen, James. "Articles: The More the Merrier (1943)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 24, 2013.
  10. ^ BlondeAtTheFilm (2014-05-01). "The More the Merrier (1943)". The Blonde at the Film. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  11. ^ BlondeAtTheFilm (2014-05-01). "The More the Merrier (1943)". The Blonde at the Film. Retrieved 2021-11-26.
  12. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley. "The More the Merrier (1943)." The New York Times, May 14, 1943.
  13. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc.: 8 April 7, 1943.
  14. ^ "'The More the Merrier' with Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn". Harrison's Reports: 82. May 22, 1943.
  15. ^ Lardner, David (May 15, 1943). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp.: 48.
  16. ^ "Review: The More the Merrier." TV Guide. Retrieved: April 2, 2010.
  17. ^ "The More the Merrier (1943)." Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Time Out Film Guide. Retrieved: April 2, 2010.
  18. ^ "The More the Merrier". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: August 19, 2017.

Bibliography

  • Dick, Bernard. The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures. Lexington, Kentucky : University Press of Kentucky, 1993. ISBN 978-0-8-1319-323-6.
  • Harrison, P. S. Harrison's Reports and Film Reviews, 1919–1962. Hollywood, California: Hollywood Film Archive, 1997. ISBN 978-0-91361-610-9.
  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
  • Oller, John. Jean Arthur: The Actress Nobody Knew. New York: Limelight Editions, 1997. ISBN 0-87910-278-0.
  • Sarvady, Andrea, Molly Haskell and Frank Miller. Leading Ladies: The 50 Most Unforgettable Actresses of the Studio Era. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8118-5248-2.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 November 2021, at 13:53
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