Laughter (1930)

“You’re rich — you’re dirty rich, and nothing but laughter can make you clean.”

Synopsis:
A former chorus girl (Nancy Carroll) married to a boring millionaire (Frank Morgan) is wooed by her hedonistic ex-lover (Fredric March).

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Review:
This rarely seen film is widely regarded as a formative precursor to 1930s screwball comedies, and remains a humorous look at the pull between love and wealth: if given the choice between living a boring life in the lap of luxury, or laughing your days away in poverty, which would you choose? Carroll is fine as the female lead, but it’s Fredric March who really shines here — from the moment he enters Carroll’s house and attempts to woo her back, we can’t help smiling at his antics. Though it’s hard to feel much sympathy for Carroll (she wants to have her cake and eat it, too), she and March have such genuine chemistry together that it’s easy to see why she’s tempted by his charms.

P.S. Director Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast — who also wrote the Oscar-nominated script — helmed just seven films between 1927-1933, then was blackballed from Hollywood.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fredric March as Carroll’s former lover
  • A clever, Oscar-nominated script

Must See?
Yes, simply for its historical importance as a precursor to 1930s screwball comedies.

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One Response to “Laughter (1930)”

  1. Not a must. It may be something that helped lead the way to screwball comedy…but it’s dismal: a film called ‘Laughter’ that isn’t even vaguely amusing, much less funny.

    Fredric March and his character do try to elevate the mind-numbing ‘material’, but WTF is he doing around these people? ~they’re such horrible bores! At one point, March even says, “There’s no particular reason for me to be here, is there?” Nope, there isn’t!

    Poor, wasted Morgan barely registers here. And the two female leads are atrocious.

    I wanted to give up barely ten minutes in…but I kept at, knowing I’d never want to go near this one again. The worst of it is the ending: just after Carroll has a penultimate ‘turn-around’ scene, the wrap-up clearly reveals that she hasn’t changed from being a vapid golddigger, and never will.

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