Easy Living (1937)

Written by Michael Clawson

90/100

A comedy of coincidence causing chaos and one great big misunderstanding, with an enjoyably balanced combination of slapstick and screwball. Fed up with his wife’s extravagant spending, J.B. Ball, a oafish banker with a fortune as big as his ego, tosses his wife’s newly purchased sable coat off their roof. It happens to land on Jean Arthur’s Mary Smith, a single working girl without much money of her own, who thereafter is mistaken by various folks as Ball’s mistress. One of those folks is Mr. Louis Louis, the proprietor of an upscale hotel at risk of being foreclosed on by Ball, and who thinks he can stay in business by putting Smith (whom he presumes is Ball’s mistress) up in one of his rooms. 

The very first gag – Ball tripping and tumbling down a set of stairs – had me worried the humor would be too broad for my taste, but I was mistaken. It‘s plenty amusing. Edward Arnold and Luis Alberni as Ball and Luis respectively are very funny; Ball’s often looking hella confused and frustrated, while Louis mistakenly thinks he’s solved his problem. While Mitchell Leisen’s direction is more or less just point-and-shoot, it doesn’t need to be much more than that since the physical gags are cleverly and energetically executed, and Sturges’ witty screenplay offers many laughs. Even better than the accumulation of individual jokes is the joy in watching Arthur’s Mary revel in the luxuries of the rich. With sparkling tulle dresses, a lavish hotel suite, meals on the house, and of course that new coat, Mary couldn’t more pleased, and Arthur sweetly conveys her delight. A solid Sunday matinee.

Easy Living (1937) Full Movie

Easy Living is not currently available to purchase or rent digitally. The above link is a YouTube upload of the full film.

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