Thursday, July 26, 2012

On Approval (1943)

          When the first thing seen is stock wartime footage, you think you what type of film you got into. When the first thing you hear is the omniscient narrator droning “Oh dear, is this another war picture?”, you know you're in for a treat. All this leads up to a very funny, very dry look over at the “peacetime” exercise and music of 1939 Britain, which doesn't really connect to the rest of the story, but provides a nice prologue nonetheless.
            The real plot is this: in the Naughty Nineties, the aristocratic Richard Halton (Roland Culver) proposes to a very-well-off widow, Maria (Beatrice Lillie). She accepts, but with a catch: before making the great leap into matrimony, they must live together in for one month on an island in Scotland, just make sure they would like being married. Along for the ride is Richard’s snobbish and always inebriated friend George (Clive Brook), and Helen’s clever American friend, Helen (Googie Withers). Getting to island is easy; surviving each other isn't.
            This movie is extremely funny and clever, due in no small part to the actors, who are all excellent. There is a real chemistry between them, with bon mots innuendos bouncing around like ping-pong balls. Like many a good comedy, there are continual twists and turns in dialogue and events, that I dare not reveal any, for fear of spoilers.
            One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of risqué elements. I cannot count how many lines have double meanings. Heck, most of dialogue could be said with a “nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more.”
            But don’t take my word for it; see it! It very droll, very farcical, very unpredictable, and is definitely not padded or overlong (its running time of 73 minutes feels just right). All the ingredients to make a great film are here: great cast, wonderfully dialogue, etc. This wonderful discovery is well worth your time, and is never boring.