“You’re a sight for an eyesore!”
A millionaire (Edward Arnold) upset that his wife (Mary Nash) has purchased yet another expensive fur coat drops it from his building, where it lands on the head of a woman (Jean Arthur) riding to work on a double-decker bus. Arthur quickly finds herself the center of attention by a clothes designer (Franklin Pangborn) and hotelier (Luis Alberni) who assume she is Arnold’s mistress, and are eager to use her as a marketing pawn. Meanwhile, Arnold’s son (Ray Milland) — attempting to earn his own money by working at an automat — meets Arthur and the two fall in love, not realizing each other’s true social status.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cross-Class Romance
- Edward Arnold Films
- Jean Arthur Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Mitchell Leisen Films
- Preston Sturges Films
- Ray Milland Films
Preston Sturges scripted this madcap screwball comedy predicated entirely on mistaken identities, with characters making countless assumptions while literally shoving a penniless young woman into wealth and comfort she never asked for (what a dream for Depression-era audiences!). Arthur is as appealing as always (I especially enjoy the scene where she carefully covers her ceramic piggy bank’s eyes with a tissue before smashing it), and she’s surrounded by a game cast who take full advantage of the absurd comedic potential — most notably Pangborn and Alberni as men whose livelihood revolves around catering to the uber-wealthy. Unfortunately, director Mitchell Leisen keeps the pace a little too frenetic, mostly showing non-stop chaos — including plenty of (too much?) physical comedy (characters trip and fall constantly), repeated malapropisms by Alberni (see quote above) and a lot of shouting, especially in the final third.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Jean Arthur as Mary Smith
- Franklin Pangborn as Van Buren
- Memorable sets
- Sturges’ witty, madcap script
No, though it’s recommended for fans of Sturges and/or Arthur.