This is week two of my spotlight on screwball comedies. Anyone familiar with classic comedy teams no doubt knows of William Powell and Myrna Loy. While their most famous collaboration was The Thin Man film series, they made a slew of other films together. Of all of them, my favorite is Love Crazy. It’s worth a watch for the great chemistry of the stars, as well as the image of William Powell in drag. More on that later.
Like many screwball comedies, the laughs come from misunderstandings and increasingly preposterous situations. But even in a preposterous movie there has to be some semblance of a plot. So here’s a summary:
Steve (William Powell) and Susan (Myrna Loy) Ireland are about to celebrate their 4th wedding anniversary by re-enacting their first date. When Susan’s meddling mother interrupts and injures herself, Steve is left to take care of her. When he meets an old flame in the elevator, Susan’s mother takes the opportunity to break-up their marriage. She convinces Susan that Steve is cheating on her-Susan files for divorce. Steve has one solution to save his marriage…Pretend he is insane.–IMDB
And who hasn’t pretended to be crazy in order to delay a divorce? The problem is that pleading insanity leads to Steve being put in an insane asylum. From there the film just gets funnier and funnier.
Let me break down some of my favorite gags. The whole sequence where Steve and his old flame get stuck in the elevator is a scream. Powell gets his head stuck in the elevator door and keeps getting his head smacked as the elevator car goes up and down. In one particularly funny moment, Powell is stuck between the elevator door on the lower part and a dog that he freed in the process of attempting to get out stops to lick his face. While this sounds very broad and an easy laugh, Powell’s facial expressions make it absolutely priceless.
Another great series of laughs happens when Steve crashes Susan’s posh party. Pretending to be crazy, he takes the hats of all the guests and puts them in the pool. Steve pretends to be Abraham Lincoln and says he’s freeing the hats. When Susan’s mother confronts him he shoves her into the pool, saying she needs to be freed as well. It’s a great sight gag.
Finally, there’s the scene of Powell in drag that I mentioned earlier. Steve eventually escapes the asylum and hides in the apartment of his old flame. Steve then has to dodge Susan’s new beau by wearing some of his old flame’s clothes and posing as his sister. It’s not only hilarious to see Powell in drag. But it’s funny seeing him without his trademark mustache when he shaves it off for the disguise. I don’t want to say much more. That would spoil some great belly laughs. But after the farcical sequence Steve and Susan patch things up.
William Powell and Myrna Loy are two of my favorite people from classic Hollywood. They made great films together and look like they had fun in the process. Their chemistry isn’t something you see in comedies of today. That’s a testament to what great actors they were. Love Crazy isn’t as well-known as The Thin Man films and their sequels, but it’s worth a watch if you need a hearty chuckle. Side note: look for the wonderful Jack Carson as Loy’s new beau. A prolific character actor, Carson is always fun to watch. He is a welcome addition to the talented cast. If you need a good pick-me-up, you can’t go wrong with William Powell and Myrna Loy in the underrated comic gem Love Crazy.