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MONDAY: Wonderfully Loathsome: Screwball Romance Through the Ages

Programmed by Liam Flanigan

Does it get any better than a screwball comedy? One of Classic Hollywood’s foundational genres, these whip-smart movies are typically marked by mile-a-minute dialogue, class conflict, and—as this series will highlight—powerful romances. Although screwball partnerships are often distinguished by verbal sparring and clever comebacks, these films are all ultimately celebrations of love. Characters suffer through divorces, broken engagements, and endless bickering, but they also wind up with their destined partner. What’s wrong with believing in love?

But enough about romance; these are comedies, after all, and ones that are meant to be seen in a theater. There is a particular magic to laughing your head off with strangers in a dark room, and such an experience has been all too rare the last few years. Whatever your comedic preferences, from the unmitigated zaniness of Bringing Up Baby to the wry urbanity of Ninotchka, there is sure to be a film for you in this lineup.

“Wonderfully Loathsome” is also, implicitly, a tribute to the luminous stars and extraordinary directors who have contributed their talents to the genre. Some featured artists are repeat masters of the form (Howard Hawks, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn), while others have made their mark with only one or two screwballs to their credit (Barbra Streisand, the Coen Brothers, Greta Garbo). We hope you enjoy all of their work.

7:00PM Monday, October 3rd

It Happened One Night still

It Happened One Night (1934)

Frank Capra · 105m · 35mm

Winner of five Oscars—Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay—It Happened One Night is a triumph of pre-Code comedy and a key antecedent to the screwball form. Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable are both magnetic as a runaway heiress and a struggling reporter who bond over the course of a trip from Florida to New York City. The palpable chemistry of Colbert and Gable—romantic, sexual, and comedic—makes this a must-see.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, October 10th

Bringing Up Baby still

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Howard Hawks · 102min · DCP

Directed by Howard Hawks with performances from Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, Bringing Up Baby unites three screwball icons for a wacky, romantic romp through the Northeast. Meek palaeontologist David Huxley encounters the charmingly chaotic Susan Vance and is pulled into a weekend of wild adventure featuring a disobedient dog, a precious dinosaur bone, and a pet leopard. A true romp in the best sense, Baby is an undeniable screwball classic.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, October 17th

Ninotchka still

Ninotchka (1939)

Ernst Lubitsch · 110m · 35mm

Greta Garbo shines as the titular Soviet envoy who is summoned to interbellum Paris to finalize the sale of jewelry confiscated in the Russian Revolution. While there, she must resist the charms of both capitalism and Melvyn Douglas, playing an aristocrat who is trying to retrieve the jewelry himself. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a script co-written by Billy Wilder, Ninotchka is a warm-hearted love story with a sharp satirical edge.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, October 24th

The Awful Truth still

The Awful Truth (1937)

Leo McCarey · 90min · DCP

Suspecting each other of infidelity, Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy (Irene Dunne) file for divorce, which takes effect after 90 days. Soon after, each spouse realizes they still love the other, and both begin sabotaging each other’s new romances. Leo McCarey won an Oscar for his direction, and screwball stalwarts Ralph Bellamy and Skippy the Dog round out the cast. Earnest and hilarious, The Awful Truth is a celebration of love in all its messy glory.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, October 31st

What's Up, Doc? still

What's Up, Doc? (1972)

Peter Bogdanovich · 94min · 35mm

Peter Bogdanovich borrowed the set-up of Bringing Up Baby— “daffy girl, square professor”—for this free-spirited comedy. Barbra Streisand runs wild across San Francisco as Judy Maxwell, an eccentric bohemian who takes a shine to musicologist Howard Bannister (Ryan O’Neale). If that’s not enough, throw in four identical bags containing various valuables, Madeline Kahn’s feature film debut, and a car chase to put Bullitt to shame.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, November 7th

Intolerable Cruelty still

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Joel Coen & Ethan Coen · 100min · 35mm

The Coen Brothers’ Intolerable Cruelty is one of the purest (and funniest) screwballs of the modern age. Elite divorce attorney Miles Massey (George Clooney) and serial divorcée Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) match wits in this loopy, fast-paced tale of love and deception. With Roger Deakins' elegant cinematography and an endlessly hummable Carter Burwell score, Intolerable Cruelty stands out even amid the Coens’ remarkable filmography.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, November 14th

The Philadelphia Story still

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

George Cukor · 112m · 35mm

After a string of unsuccessful films labeled her “box office poison,” Katherine Hepburn developed The Philadelphia Story as a comeback vehicle and was vindicated with a critical and commercial hit. Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, a Philadelphia socialite whose upcoming second marriage is drawing national attention. Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant co-star as a tabloid journalist and Tracy’s first husband, each of whose arrival complicates her wedding plans.

Tickets can be bought here.

7:00PM Monday, November 28th

His Girl Friday still

His Girl Friday (1940)

Howard Hawks · 92min · 35mm

Possibly the definitive screwball comedy, His Girl Friday stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as newspaper editor Walter Burns and his star reporter Hildy Johnson…who also happen to be ex-spouses. When Hildy decides to remarry and quit the paper, Walter convinces her to cover one last story, even as he tries to win her back. With pitch-perfect performances from everyone involved, this movie is more than a laugh-a-minute—it’s a laugh-a-line.

Tickets can be bought here.