More the Merrier The (1943)

More the Merrier The (1943)

Directed and produced by George Stevens (A Place in the Sun (1951) & still later Giant (1956)) this classic comedy features Jean Arthur as a woman living alone in wartime crowded Washington D.C. who sublets her apartment to Charles Coburn a wealthy businessman that becomes a matchmaker for the young working girl and Joel McCrea an Army aviation expert. Though she had intended on leasing to another young woman as part of her patriotic duty Arthur’s character is charmed by the elderly "won’t take no for an answer" ("Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead!") gentleman. However being a busybody and disapproving of her boring government employee fiancé (Richard Gaines) Coburn’s character finds the perfect opportunity to rectify the situation when he meets McCrea’s who’s also looking for accommodations in the "filled to capacity" city. So he sublets half of his room to him unbeknownst to Arthur’s character who then reluctantly accepts the arrangement.

Being young attractive and eligible McCrea is swooped down on by all the females in an hilarious scene at a restaurant which Coburn’s character had manipulated to get Arthur’s fiancé away and enable some alone time for his two roommates. The film’s next most memorable and sexy scene follows when the two walk home together and sit on their front steps. McCrea nuzzles fondles holds and kisses Arthur as she tries to discuss her future plans with her fiancé. I’m sure you can figure out where the story is headed by now though I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed at how the film-makers get it there.

Arthur received her only Oscar nomination (Best Actress) for her role in this film Coburn his only Supporting Oscar out of three nominations – his first had come in another pairing with Arthur (The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)). Stevens picked up Oscar nominations for Best Picture & Director as did the film’s Original Story and its Screenplay which was co-written by Lewis Foster (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). It was later remade as Walk Don’t Run (1966) notable for being Cary Grant’s last film. In that one Grant plays the matchmaker character in Tokyo during the Olympics for Samantha Eggar and Jim Hutton.

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