Classic Screwball Comedies from the ’30s and ’40s



Filed under : About.com, Comedy, Genres, Romance

Out of the uncertainty of the Great Depression, when an ailing nation needed to laugh and forget its troubles, the screwball comedy was born. Thriving throughout the 1930s and 1940s, this classic genre produced a number of all-time favorites and gave rise to many prominent careers. Featuring rapid-fire dialogue filled with wit and verve, screwball comedies were a precursor to conventional romantic comedies. But instead of just focusing on the will-they, won’t-they aspects of a budding romance, the genre contained ludicrous situations that were rife with odd-ball humor, colorful characters and finely-tuned barbs between the two leads. Katharine Hepburn revived her career after being labeled box office poison with a pair of screwball classics, while Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda became stars on the strength of early comic performances. And of course, directors like Frank Capra and Preston Sturges staked their claims on cinematic history based on their iconic contributions. Though its heyday had a relatively brief shelf life, the screwball comedy is one of Hollywood’s most enduring genres. Theatrical poster for Frank Capra’s ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934)/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Classic Screwball Comedies from the ’30s and ’40s

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