Screwball comedies are good for you. In fact, you should probably watch one every day when you wake up. Wouldn’t that be nice? Go on, write that down. Make it your resolution for 2017. And if you want my advice, I think you should start with Mitchell Leisen’s Easy Living (1937).
After finding out that his wife Jenny (Mary Nash) has bought yet another expensive coat, millionaire banker J.B. Ball, played by the adorably grumpy Edward Arnold, gets fed up and decides to throw it over the balcony. It lands on working girl Mary Smith (Jean Arthur) and when she tries to return it, he tells her to keep it. This leads to an array of gossip and misunderstandings – well, of course, it’s a screwball comedy -, made worse by the fact that Mary ends up falling in love with J.B.’s son, John (Ray Milland), and vice-versa.
Written by the mighty Preston Sturges, based on the novel by Vera Caspary (who also wrote Laura), Easy Living is one of the great screwball comedies. For me personally, I’ve always found that screwball comedies have the ability to make me laugh and calm me down at the same time and this one is no exception. I think it has to do with the balance between the slapstick moments (which, as you can imagine, are hilarious) and the relationship between Mary and John, which is just the cutest thing ever. Although, I have to say that, if I had to pick a favorite thing about this film, it would probably be Mr Louis (Luis Alberni)’s lines, which – and I wish I was kidding – I have written down to use at some point in my life. But I can’t pick a favorite, really. There are so many great things about this movie. Jean Arthur and Edward Arnold are comedy geniuses, and their scenes together are fantastic, namely the one in the taxi right at the beginning of the film. That scene is probably the second best taxi scene ever, after On the Waterfront (1954).
In short, Easy Living is fabulous. And you need it in your life.