Sunday, November 25, 2012

Merrily We Live (1938)

Emily Kilbourne (Billie Burke) has a hobby of hiring tramps as servants in the hope of rehabilitating them.  But when the latest flees one morning after stealing all the family silver, she vows to turn over a new leaf, much to the relief of her husband and children.  However she immediately breaks her promise after scruffy Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) arrives at the house.  He just wants to use the phone, but she assumes he's another tramp for her to rescue, so she gives him the position of chauffeur.  When eldest daughter Gerry (Constance Bennett) finds out, she's furious and orders Rawlins to leave -- but he finds the whole situation amusing, and decides to stay on.  Soon Rawlins is a success at his job, and Gerry realizes that she's in love with him.

Merrily We Live is one of the best romantic screwball comedies!  It's also one of my favorites, with a flawless cast, charmingly likeable characters, cheery storyline, hilarious situations, witty dialogue, and high production values!

Constance Bennett is excellent as Gerry, sophisticated as always, and really so talented with comedy.  Brian Aherne, so suave and charismatic, is the perfect match for her.  Their relationship is one that's great to watch because it's believable and romantic and fun all at the same time.

The supporting cast is marvelous.  Billie Burke is ideal in these vague sorts of roles, and this is definitely one of her best performances.  She also has many of the film's best lines.  Clarence Kolb is excellent as the grumpy Mr. Kilbourne, Alan Mowbray and Patsy Kelly good as the butler and maid, with Tom Brown and Bonita Granville fine as the two spoiled younger children.

There are so many funny moments, right from the start when the family attempts to have breakfast without their usual silverware and concluding with the incredibly hilarious and well-played final scenes to revive the girls from their fainting spells!

An absolute delight, Merrily We Live should not be missed.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ½

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