20 March 2009

Hitchcock | Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
written by Norman Krasna

Carole Lombard, the queen of the screwball comedy, asked Hitchcock to direct this one for her. Everyone always seems to comment about how unlike this film is from the rest of the Hitchcock canon. Even the film historians interviewed on the DVD release mention something to this effect. I have a feeling they're only considering his American films. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is no more a departure for Hitchcock than the marriage-on-the-rocks road trip flick Rich and Strange (1931) or the nearly-screwball romantic comedy The Farmer's Wife (1928).

That said, I generally don't care for Hitchcock's lighter films. He's an incredibly precise director; I don't think this is the right approach for a broad comedy. Mr. & Mrs. Smith feels stiff to me. All of the technical aspects of the film are perfect, but there's no life to the thing outside of the actors' performances. I dunno. Maybe I'm just used to the hyperkinetic comedies of this era. I didn't laugh much at all during this comedy, though I could see all of the points at which 1941 audiences would've guffawed.

One scene I absolutely loved, however, was at the club when David meets Chuck. This entire sequence is absolutely hysterical, from David's first glimpse of his not-so-classy blind date to his mouthing words to the pretty girl next to him to impress his wife to his unfortunate success in bloodying his own nose to escape. I wished the movie would've dropped the spoiled Ann altogether at this point and followed the adventures of David & hard-drinkin', womanizin' Chuck. That'd been plenty screwy. (6/10)

Watched the region 1 DVD released by Warner Bros. in 2004. Great transfer and a nice documentary.