Merrily We Live (1938)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Romance


Merrily We Live (1938) Poster

Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a ... See full summary »


7.4/10
1,429

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  • Merrily We Live (1938)
  • Merrily We Live (1938)
  • Brian Aherne and Constance Bennett in Merrily We Live (1938)
  • Merrily We Live (1938)
  • Constance Bennett and Clarence Kolb in Merrily We Live (1938)
  • Brian Aherne and Constance Bennett in Merrily We Live (1938)

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User Reviews


15 July 2007 | mukava991
8
| pleasant surprise
Considering the obscurity of this film, it's a big surprise to see how well made, visually rich and entertaining it is, despite, as others have noted, its unoriginal premise. The dialogue is frequently funny but not up to the standard of MY MAN GODFREY - too much of the eccentricity seems to be forced and a bit cutesy but the cast overcomes all. Clarence Kolb steals the film with his masterful slapstick but he's first rate whether playing stern-and- sober, falling-down drunk or warmly empathetic. Though Billie Burke was Oscar nominated as the ditzy society matron mother, her performance here is no better than it was the year before in TOPPER or five years before in DINNER AT EIGHT (now THAT was an award-worthy turn!). Perhaps because this particular role was as over-the-top ditzy as such roles get, Hollywood decided it was time to honor it. What a splendid cast: Constance Bennett in fine form; Brian Aherne at his best - called upon to be elegant, dashing and charming, he accomplishes all three. Cary Grant would have given the character more oomph, but Aherne's reserve works here. Then we have the inimitable Patsy Kelly as a kitchen maid, the underused Ann Dvorak as a predatory Senator's daughter who lusts after Aherne, Bonita Granville as a wild, irrepresible teenage daughter, and last but not least Alan Mobray as the snooty butler being undermined by one indignity after another; his double takes are hilarious. Near the beginning there is an accomplished scene in which Aherne's wheezing jalopy rolls for what seems like a mile down a mountainside until it's totalled: no editing tricks here. Being a Hal Roach film there are of course generous helpings of slapstick, but they're brilliantly staged and expertly carried out by actors who are also capable of delivering deft overall performances. Every actor has at least one extended scene of well staged physical comedy. The opening credits are fun and welcoming: the whole cast is walking through the gates of the property with arms linked, singing the swingy title song. So, even though the concept of this film is derivative, its execution is fresh and alive.

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