Class, Language, and American Film Comedy by Christopher Beach

By Christopher Beach

Analyzing the evolution of yankee movie comedy because the starting of the sound period (c. 1930), Christopher seashore makes a speciality of how language, category, and social relationships in early sound comedies by means of the Marx Brothers, the screwball comedies of the Thirties through Capra, Sturges and others, and Nineteen Fifties comedies of Frank Tashlin and Vincente Minnelli, and modern movies by way of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman, and the Coen brothers. seashore argues that sound and narrative extended the semiotic and ideological strength of a movie, supplying moments of real social critique and in addition mass leisure. Christopher seashore teaches on the college of California, Irvine, and has taught on the collage of Montana and Claremont Graduate college. he's the writer of 3 books on American poetry, together with Poetic tradition (Northwestern, 1999). this is often his first booklet on movie.

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In a brief patter song, Hives instructs the rest of the male staff on how to treat the guest of honor, Captain Spaulding. The song’s lyrics themselves parody the absurdly hyperbolic logic governing social relations within the world of the excessively wealthy and their celebrity guests: : You must do your best tonight, be on your toes, men. There’s another guest tonight, it’s one of those men who are being feted by the smart set. : We’ll see that he gets what he deserves. : Treat him as you do a king, in manner royal.

38 A TROUBLED PARADISE The film contains not one but two upper-class matrons – Mrs. Rittenhouse and Mrs. Whitehead – whose world of house parties and art collecting is contrasted not only with the Marx Brothers but also with the penniless artist John Parker, the fiancé of Mrs. Rittenhouse’s daughter Arabella. Parker, who has no connections in high society, is judged socially unworthy of Arabella, who is encouraged to pay less attention to him and more to wealthy men like Roscoe Chandler, the New York art collector and owner of the famous painting by Beaugard, “After the Hunt,” which is to be displayed in the Rittenhouse home and unveiled at the party.

When he arrives at a party at the house of Mrs. ” by the assembled guests – Firefly takes a doughnut off one guest’s plate and dips it in the coffee of another as he walks by, all with perfect nonchalance. (In this case, one wonders whether a high-society woman like Mrs. Teasdale would really be serving doughnuts at her garden party, but the success of the gag outweighs the requirement of social realism). The dipping of doughnuts, as we also know from the roughly contemporary It Happened One Night, is an act coded with important class implications.

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