Pratfalls on the Page: The Screwball Comedy Films: A History and Filmography, 1934 – 1942 by Duane Byrge and Robert Milton Miller

0000screwball      It takes ambition to tackle the definition of entire genre of movie storytelling (if one is looking for substance), especially within the almost impossible to analyze field of comedy (just how do you explain funny anyway?), and perhaps more so with a more specific form of that field. In Duane Byrge and Robert Milton Miller’s The Screwball Comedy Films: A History and Filmography, 1934 – 1942, the ambitions are immediately reined by an evident certainty that the duo have the genre nailed down to specific time, date and title of the birth and death (if indeed the screwball is deceased) of its filmic existence, and so the reader can settle in to be enlightened and informed (and presumably amused, although humor is- and previously noted -difficult to define, so perhaps not) by a pair of informed hosts.

     Unfortunately, title promises are often in name only, and it only takes a brief visit with the book to discover that this slim volume is shamelessly padded with not one but two introductions (one by Arthur Knight who should have known better, although his contribution is by far the more readable of the two)- calling one a foreword is like calling one of four tires on a car a donut -that basically cover the same territory, with the author’s introduction carelessly citing the later devolution of the genre (outside the scope of their ungenerously narrow focus) without bothering to defend or corroborate their theories.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in 1930's movies, book reviews, books, comedy, Film, History, humor, Movies, Reviews, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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