7Seven Forgotten Screwball Comedies of the 1940s

Several actresses who were the best of the best in this genre such as Deanna Durbin, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, and Jean Arthur made their mark in the 1930s and continued to shine into the 1940s.

  • It Started with Eve (1941) ~ Deanna Durbin eve2.jpgplays a coat check girl and singer who is trying to make it in the big city but is having no luck.  Robert Cummings plays a man in love, whose father has approached Death’s door.  The doctor has called him in to say his final goodbyes, with his fiancé Gloria nowhere to be found he needs a substitute.   Robert Cummings convinces a coat check girl (Deanna Durbin) to meet is dying father and pretend to be his fiancé.  Fortunately, Robert Cummings father makes a miraculous recovery but now, he thinks Deanna Durbin is his son’s fiancé, this is the perfect situation for a wonderful screwball comedy. 


The More the Merrier (1943) ~ Jean Arthur is living in Washington DC during a housing crisis.  When she rents the extra room to an older man, he in turn rents half of his room to a young and very attractive Joel McCrea.  Jean and Joel are attracted to each other however she is engaged, and he is about to leave the country on a secret mission for a couple of years.  With three people in one small apartment, there are lots of opportunities for shenanigans that make for a great screwball comedy.


  • The Talk of the Town (1942) ~ Jean Arthur is renting her country property to a esteemed Judge for the summer.  Just as the notorious Leopold (Cary Grant) a man who is on trial for arson and murder, choses that property to hide out in.  Jean discovers him the night the Judge moves in and allows him to take refuge in the attic.  She procures the job of secretary and cook allowing her to stay and help Leopold.  As the man hunt for Leopold gets closer to each of them, they are all learning more about themselves and what Justice really is.  Though this sounds like a drama Cary Grant and Jean Arthur and king and queen of the screwball comedy.
  • Something in the Wind (194something7) ~ Deanna Durbin plays a radio personality who is mistaken for her aunt with the same name.  Deanna is kidnapped by the heir of an estate naming her an unknown benefactor.  The highlight of this movie is a song done by Donald O’Connor whose physical comedy is unmatched.  Deanna also sings an uncharacteristic song during a fashion show that is a lot of fun.
  • The Doctor Takes a Wdoctorife (1940) ~ Loretta Young plays the famous author of a book calling women to be independent of marriage and men.  On rides back to the city with a respectable medical professor their car is mistakenly decorated with a “Just Married” sign outside of a Justice of the Peace.  When arriving at her apartment building the media sees the sign and reports her marriage.  They are forced by her publisher to act as if they are married.  The misunderstanding ends up helping both of their careers but turns their personal lives upside down.
  • Pot O’ Gold (1941) ~ Jimmy Stewart is an out of work musician, seeking the help of his uncle in the big city.  His uncle hates music and is a known curmudgeon, who is trying to evict a family of musicians.  Jimmy having unknowingly met the family and fallen for the daughter, ends up in the middle of the feud.
  • Broadway Limited (1941) ~ broadway.jpgThis hysterical movie is a classic mix up Marjorie Woodworth plays an actress traveling on a train with her producer.  As a publicity stunt her assistant rents a baby from a friend, as the train gets closer to their destination, they begin to fear the baby is really kidnapped.

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