Once strict enforcement of the Hollywood censorship code was imposed on the US movie industry during the second year of FDR’s New Deal, a brand-new, uniquely refreshing genre in American filmmaking emerged: comedies with charismatic, unconventional, madcap couples. Starring such movie luminaries as Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, Irene Dunne, Carole Lombard, & Ginger Rogers playing as equals opposite Herbert Marshall, Ray Milland, Fred MacMurray, Gary Cooper, Melvyn Douglas, & James Stewart, this cinema septet features actors displaying physical adroitness while sparring verbally in sparkling, barbed dialogue, masterfully directed.  This course will place these comedic gems within their historical context while explaining how the behind-the-scenes collaborations of their creators resulted in scintillating films that never fail to astound & delight us today with their high-powered hijinks. Large-format screenings will complement informal PowerPoint lectures. Be prepared to laugh out loud while witnessing on-screen shenanigans that still resonate & can seem eerily true-to-life.

  • The Gilded Lily (1935) Dir/Wesley Ruggles
  • Hands Across the Table (1935) Dir/Mitchell Leisen
  • If You Could Only Cook (1935) Dir/William Seiter
  • Desire (1936) Prod/Ernst Lubitsch; Dir/Frank Borzage
  • Theodora Goes Wild (1936) Dir/Richard Boleslawski
  • Easy Living (1937) Dir/Mitchell Leisen; script/Preston Sturges
  • Vivacious Lady (1938) Dir/George Stevens