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Easy Living

Jean Arthur , Edward Arnold , Mitchell Leisen    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Of all the screenplays Preston Sturges wrote for Paramount before becoming the greatest comic director of his generation, 1937's Easy Living seems the most like something he would have filmed himself--a satirical fable about chance, class, and the absurdity of the American dream. Jean Arthur is a New York secretary riding to work atop a double-decker bus when a fur coat miraculously descends from the sky and settles on her shoulders. The fur, however, has not dropped from Olympus but from the hand of a millionaire (Edward Arnold) who has just tossed it from a nearby roof to punish his wife. But as if it were a magic fleece (the mythical reference is almost certainly intended by the erudite Sturges), it makes its wearer invincible, conferring an aura of prosperity, celebrity, and power on the previously average working girl. No folk tale is complete without a prince: Sturges's is the millionaire's son, Ray Milland, who is trying to pass as an apprentice stockbroker. Directed with a light, elegant touch by Mitchell Leisen, the film lacks the crazy energy it would have had under Sturges's own hand, but this remains one of the great screwball comedies (in a year that also saw The Awful Truth and Nothing Sacred). --Dave Kehr

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RARE COMEDY DELIGHT. Aug. 30 2002
Format:VHS Tape
In retrospect, this little 1937 flick holds up as one of the funniest screwball comedies of the thirties. Loud millionaire J.B. Ball tells his extravagantly aggressive wife (Mary Nash) that she cannot keep her $58,000 Sable coat. Ball throws it out of the upper window of their mansion where it happens to fall right on top of bewildered Mary Smith (Arthur), who's travelling on an open-air bus. Mary's a poor gal who works for a magazine similar to BOY'S LIFE. Arnold is seen buying Mary a new hat by pussy-cat faced gossip Franklin Pangborn and soon she gets more than just a hat: practically all of New York is at her feet. The scene where she and Milland wreak havoc at the now-obsolete automat is truly inspired and hilarious, as is Luis Alberni - as Louis Louis - when he shows Mary her new "quarters" -- i.e. "And make it snappa...Thaank Yewww". The rather offbeat cast works wonders with the great Preston Sturges script: Milland and Nash make a weird son and wife to the always good (and always loud) Edward Arnold, but somehow it makes for better screwball; the whacko cast helps push the one-joke material through to a happy finish, and the movie helped establish Jean Arthur as a comedienne of the first rank. P.S. While listening to Arthur's wonderfully off-beat voice, I realised it reminded me a little of Julie Harris (!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a movie for today Aug. 21 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Day-traders alert. Cut yourself on every line of this witty, fast-paced and knowing movie that glories in the talents of Jean Arthur, et al. As tight as a fist, construction-wise, it traverses ostentation, banking (and ostentation), stock market manipulation (and ostentation) and that thing called real-honest-to-goodness, in-the-belly hunger. Arnold, Milland and the (forgive me) unnamed actor who plays the hotel proprietor (should have stayed cook) to hilarious effect are all wonderful. But Jean Arthur demonstrates yet again what an underrated talent she was: energy, sweet timing and mercurial delights - poured into the camera.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine, early screenplay by Preston Sturges! Dec 26 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold, a baby Ray Milland, and the beginnings of what became known as the Sturges Players combine for a tight little screwball comedy. This was not available on video until just recently, but if you enjoy the old madcap comedies, ala MY MAN GODFREY, NOTHING SACRED, and Preston Sturges romps like PALM BEACH STORY, THE LADY EVE, etc, I'm confident in recommending EASY LIVING. I didn't notice Sturges wrote it until the final credits, but that didn't alter my feelings. This is an under-appreciated jewel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Badgley TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
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