"Since I uncovered this tragically overlooked gem in Hollywood's crown, thanks to NY Times and their list of 1000 best films ever made, I've watched it four times and it just gets better with repeated viewing. That alone is a tremendous recommendation for anyone who likes a good romantic comedy, especially if you've found yourself let down by the more mindless entries into the genre (the recent "Must Love Dogs," for example).
Some fine synopses of "The More the Merrier" can be found elsewhere on this page, so I'll not be repetitive. Let me just say how wonderful it is to find a film that perfectly captures that magical moment in time when two people have the locomotives of their lives derailed by finding each other completely by accident. Well, OK, not completely; Mr. Dingle is the engineer of this particular train wreck, the sheer joy of which is not fully clear to anyone until the final five minutes of the film, an ending that is so beautifully planned, constructed, and executed that it gives me goose bumps.
The other marvelously pleasurable aspects of this film include the realistic way the dialogue unfolds. Most films have had the life rehearsed out of them; "OK, I say this, then pause for a beat so the audience can laugh, then you say this while I wait to respond to what you've said." In TMtM, on the other hand, characters sometimes mumble, dialogue overlaps, there are scenes when two characters seem to be ad libbing at the same time, etc., just like the viewer is a fly on the wall rather than watching a polished Hollywood product. Ah, 'tis a rare and precious thing, this.
And finally, TMtM reminds us how sad it is that today's films usually substitute nudity for sexiness. I have rarely seen a sexier scene than the one where Joel McCrea is walking Jean Arthur home. He just can't keep his hands off her shoulders, neck, and face, and she half-heartedly fends him off; she has a loveless engagement to be married, and he is a distraction...but ultimately she can't withstand her own feelings for him. It's heartbreakingly sweet and sensuous, without being the least bit prurient. Beautiful work.
Obviously this has quickly moved into the top 10 of my own personal list of 200 favorite films, and it carries my highest recommendation without reservations. Enjoy!"
"Damn the Torpedoes!...Full speed ahead"
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The line that serves as title for my review is spoken by the great Charles Coburn all through the movie, and at the end of the film it is used as a "subtle" innuendo of what's going on...you'll know what I'm talking about when you see this great film.
I am a fan of pre-codes, in other words, films that were released before the Production Code was fully enforced (1930-1934), but this does not mean I do not love too, films produced during its full enforcement, because it never ceases to amaze me how certain masters of the American Cinema (Hitchcock, Preston Sturges, Lubitsch, etc.) found ways of subtly insinuating what could not be fully showed or directly told onscren.
This film takes place during the severe house (and men) shortage in World War II Washington D.C. and tells us the story of how the funny cupid-mister-fix-it character played by Coburn (Mr. Dingle) gets "clean-cut" Joel McCrea (Joe Carter) into Jean Arthur's (Miss Milligan) small Apartment. Previously, he has managed to get inside of it himself.
I had seen McCrea and Arthur together in the screen for the first time in the Early Talkie "The Silver Horde" (1930), a nice and entertaing adventure yarn (she plays his spoiled rich fiancée), but neither Arthur had yet blossomed into the excellent actress and deft comediene she was yet to become in the mid 1930's, nor had the great chemistry between both stars developed the way it did in this gem of a movie.
As I said before, in spite of censorship's shortcomings and the Code's restrictions, great directors such as George Stevens (the man who gave us Kate Hepburn's "Alice Adams" or Liz Taylor's "A Place in the Sun") knew how to handle the scenes and show us, insinuating it in a subtle way, in this case, the sexual tension between Connie Milligan and Joe Carter. In fact, never I had seen McCrea or Arthur in such sexy-romantic-"physical" scenes (by 40's standards), showing the love and desire they feel for each other, all the longing for "more".
McCrea seems so much "passionate" in his romantic secenes, than usual, and Arthur looks sexy to the hoot. What a fine figure this lady had! She surely looks much younger than the 43 years old she was when she made this movie and gets to wear some sexy-outfits (I liked her especially with her hair "loose") and even a translucid (or look-through) black nightgown.
Trust me, this is one of the most engaging, romantic, amusing, comedies from Hollywood's Golden Era, that you can get.
Now, one more time Columbia-Sony leads us into mistake, with its statement on the back-cover of the DVD Case, that this film was "remastered in high definition". The quality of the transfer is so-so, pretty uneven I'd dare to say, with many imperfections. But then, it's the only DVD edition available of this masterpiece, so buy it anyway! You won't regret it. "
Very cute, intelligent and original movie....
D. Pawl | Seattle | 07/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The More the Merrier" is a film that I wish I had heard of before. This is one of many great films directed and produced by the legendary George Stevens. Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) is a young woman with patriotism in mind, who decides to rent out half of her apartment to someone, due to the housing shortage in wartime Washington DC. Connie had a female roommate in mind, but, that isn't what she gets. Mr. Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) shows up at her front door--an elderly, retired millionaire, whose itinerary is two days ahead of schedule, and is seeking lodging, since his suite at the hotel is still booked up. Connie's grudgingly forced attempts to compromise with the gentleman, without starting a scandal, is just the beginning of the screwball humor in the film...... Mr. Dingle decides that Connie needs a clean-cut nice young man...not the uptight, too old fiancee she is currently seeing. Joe Carter (Joel McCrea) literally shows up on the frontstep, and the opportunity presents itself for Mr. Dingle to engage in matchmaking, as he rents out his half of the apartment to the young man.
I enjoy the broad humor of this film, that isn't at all dated in my perception. Also , the leads are likeable and believeable in their roles. The direction of the humorous scenes was brilliantly subtle, and is so much more engaging than the over-the-top, cartoonish comedies of today. It's like watching a beautifully choreographed dance...... Enjoy it......"
Jean Arthur's Best
Ryuichi | Ayaseshi, Kanagawaken Japan | 12/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Jean Arthur as much as any actress in Hollywood. Her performances, which came immediately to my mind, are those in Capra films, especially 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington', where the way she supports James Stewart seems moving to me. In this film Jean(if I may say so) is at her best in her prime beauty and coquetry. Indeed the performances of Charles Coburn (probably his best) and Joel McCrea are priceless, but I find myself watching all through the playing time.This film has never been imported to Japan and I have watched it for the first time in this VHF form."
"You've Soushed Your Last Soush!!!"
"Tee" | LA | 02/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE MORE THE MERRIER was one of the biggest hits of 1943 and one of the very best comedies of the 1940's. It received many Oscar nominations and won the Best Supporting Actor award for Charles Coburn as well as earning the great Jean Arthur her only nomination (a crime!) for the Best Actress Academy Award. This is a truly amazing comedy that touches on virtually every comedy genre from slapstick to romantic to verbal bantering. Coburn is great fun although I do agree with one reviewer his character at times really pushes the envelope and comes close to being out of line but fortunately the film is so light-hearted, well acted and directed the character's presumptuous edges never become unpleasant. As great as Colburn is this movie really belongs to Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea, two great stars who may have just missed being superstars by a hair but here (as on many other occasions) showing they had the talent and charisma to equal their more celebrated contemporaries. Neither of them have ever been as sexy as they are here, Jean's sloppy brushing of her teeth not withstanding. One of the most amazing things about the movie is practically a three-person play despite running 104 minutes, quite long for a comedy from the era. Richard Gaines as Jean's nerdy steady has the only sizable supporting role, everyone else virtually plays a bit part. This movie has some of the best laugh outloud gags of any film I've ever seen with a tender romance nicely bubbling under the surface.
I own the VHS release and while most of the print is quite flawless, it has many bad spots in it with lines, dirt, and scratches. I'm very disappointed to read in another review that the DVD version is not much better, perhaps the same. This seems to be a consistent problem with vintage Columbia films released on video or DVD, I've noticed similar problems with MISS GRANT TAKES RICHMOND and THEODORA GOES WILD. Hasn't it ever crossed these people's minds to use multiple prints of a film and cut out the bad bits in a superior print and splice in the same scenes that are not damaged in a second print? That would really not be much of an effort. It seems as if Columbia doesn't even screen some of the prints they use as their masters. As I said most of the picture quality is fine but there is really no excuse for poor quality scenes when you know the studio owns multiple copies of the films."