February 14, 2011

The Palm Beach Story - 1942

The Palm Beach Story (1942) is a hilarious, zany, marital screwball comedy by writer/director Preston Sturges - it was his last romantic comedy and one of the last, classic screwball comedies. The witty, nonsensical film of mistaken identities and deception is a satire on sex as an asset. The farcical plot with cynical satire effectively skewers the idle rich (millionaires) and the pursuit of money, with its story of a penniless, separated couple. [Whether coincidence or not, the couple share the same names as MGM's squabbling cartoon characters Tom (cat) and Jerry (mouse).]

The film's premise is that a pretty, but penniless, fortune-hunting, scatter-brained wife, who is at odds with her inventor husband, may travel to Florida to obtain a divorce, and - with her beauty, ingenuity, luck and appealing charms - live the 'good life' in Florida and obtain monetary support ($99,000) from a multi-millionaire to advance the good of her husband's career. Sturges' original title for the film was Is Marriage Necessary? - to emphasize his challenge to the sacredness of marriage. Its title was a takeoff on the similar film title, The Philadelphia Story (1940).

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