Easy Living(released July/37)is your typical screwball comedy of the 30s,this one starring Jean Arthur,Ray Milland and Edward Arnold(not the singer).Once the film starts to move(it takes a bit to take off at the beginning)the action just never stops until the end.
The plot involves Edward Arnold as a wealthy banker by the name of Mr.Ball.He has an extravagant wife who has a closet full of stoles,but who had to go and buy just one more,worth around $50,000!! Edward gets apoplectic and takes the stole and throws it over their apartment balcony.It lands on a passing double decker New York bus and onto the head of Jean.She gets off and tries to return it and eventually runs into Arnold who tells her she earned it and to keep it.In fact he takes her to a hat shop to buy her a new chapeau also.
In the meantime a hotelier by the name of Louis whose business is less than stellar,is going bankrupt and needs cash in order to pay off Arnold's bank loan.Arnold gives him a week to do so,but Louis learns from the hat man that Arnold now has a mistress,or so the story goes.This is the pivotal screwball moment and everything from here on in is one mix up piled on top of another.Louis thinking if he sucks up to Arnold,not to mention keeping Arnold's "situation" discreet,the loan will be forgiven or at least extended.
Well tongues wag,as they do in "situations" like this,and before you know it his "affair" is societal news all around New York.The only two unaware of it are Arthur and Arnold himself.Louis meanwhile puts Arthur up in his hotel in the swankiest apartment there is,and Arthur is gobsmacked.She tells him she can't afford but $7.00 a week and he agrees to the price.Along with her good fortune she meets up with Arnold's son Ray Milland,who is working at an automat;Ray doesn't know anything about the growing scandal or about her having any connection with his father.The two hit it off in fine screwball fashion.
As Arthur's whereabouts become common knowledge it seems all of New York's who's who's start moving into to Louis' hotel.When a stock trader asks Arthur for some of Ball's advice on steel,she goes in to ask Ray,not knowing he really wants advice from the father,and thinking it is the father she is getting the tip from!She comes back to say that steel is dropping.Back at the bank Ball sr. sees that steel is dropping and buys everything he can and comes close to going broke.But when Ray,the prodigal son,returns to help his dad out of his predicament,Arthur is told to tell the stock man that steel is going up and that moves it enough for Ball sr.to get out of his predicament,and Arthur and Milland to live happily ever after.
The movie is chock full of larger than life characterizations starting with Ed Arnold as Ball,whom I thought was not quite as convincing as he could have been.A better actor in that spot would have been a Charles Winninger type.Milland does a good job as does star Arthur.Luis Alberni really plays it close to the edge as hotelier Louis Louis,in his broken Italian dialect.Also watch for always delightful Franklin Pangborn as the hat shop proprietor who starts the whole "affair" ball rolling.
Technically speaking the film is clear and crisp and this is a very good print.The only extra is an intro by TCM host Robert Osborne.
All in all,while not a top notch screwball film of the day,it still has some funny moments to it and is generally enjoyable throughout.Recommended.