This is an absolutely stunning comedy, with one comic shock and delight after another, and hilarious performances by a bevy of some of the best character actors in the history of Hollywood.
Highpoints include a trip on the railroad with the Ale and Quail Club; an introduction to The Weenie King, on of the funniest characters I know of in any film; Rudy Valee's unexpectedly delightful portrayal of a Rockefeller-like multi-millionaire; Mary Astor's excellent performance as Rudy Valee's sister; and a gentleman of unspecified ethnic origin known simply as "Toto."
The opening credits of the movie are among the most fascinating of the thirties or forties. While the credits are running, we see onscreen an entire prequel somehow involving two sets of identical twins (one set played by Joel McCrea and the other by Claudette Colbert).
Preston Sturges is not the best director the United States has ever produced, but he unquestionably enjoyed the finest five year period of any director we have ever seen. From 1940 until 1945, Preston Sturges enjoyed a run of amazingly crafted comedy masterpieces that by themselves place him on any list of the essential directors. In the late 1930s, Sturges built a name for himself by penning a number of first rate comedy scripts, including the classic EASY LIVING as well as REMEMBER THE NIGHT. Paramount gave him a shot at directing, and he responded with films like THE GREAT McGINTY, CHRISTMAS IN JULY, the great THE LADY EVE, SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, THE PALM BEACH STORY, THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK, and HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO. But then, suddenly and without warning, his genius deserted him.
But this is one of the best of his best. Just sit back, get yourself pleasant to drink, and have a good time.