Monday, October 26, 2009

Read All About It

How could I have missed It Happened Tomorrow for all these years? I used to watch nothing but comedies from the 30s and 40s, until I had to branch out due to lack of material. And here's a 1944 comedy starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell, directed by Rene Claire, no less, that I had never heard of. It gives me hope.

It starts with a large group getting ready to greet a couple on their 50th anniversary. Then it flashes back to the turn of the century (you can tell because all of the men have moustaches). Dick Powell, a young newspaperman, is telling coworker Pops that he wishes he had tomorrow's paper. Pops tells him it would bring him no joy - why, he might read his own obituary!

That night, our lad meets a Linda Darnell as part of a mentalist act with her uncle, Jack Oakey (playing stage Italian), and falls in love with her. So - three uses of the time/prophecy theme: Flashback, tomorrow's paper, and stage mystic.

Later still, after everyone else has gone home, Powell meets Pops, and Pops gives him "today's" newspaper. What Powell doesn't realize is, it's after midnight, and this is the evening paper.

The rest of the movie plays out the consequences in the traditional screwball fashion: lots of running around, missed connections and misunderstandings and even a lovely duet of screaming overlapping dialog. But it's done with Rene Claire's lightness of touch - the film less frantic than classic screwball, with more room to breathe. If Bringing Up Baby gives you a headache, you might try Claire.

All in all, a charming movie. And how many more are out there that I don't know about?

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