Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery

Alfred Hitchcock was a very funny man. The legendary director, most well known for his films of suspense, had a very dry, and wry, sense of humor. In the early 1970's when a writer for Esquire showed up at his home for an interview, he was ushered into the kitchen to wait. He was also told to help himself to a drink from the refrigerator. Opening the door the writer was confronted with a wax head replica of Hitchcock, on a platter! When Hitchcock walked in, seconds later, the writer was hard pressed to conduct the interview for which he had come.

Aside from the film "The Trouble with Harry", a story about a neighbor whom everybody wants dead, Hitchcock did very little comedy. In almost all of his films there is an element of humor that sets the audience up for some unexpected and shocking moments. But flat out humor was a genre in which Hitchcock did very little work. That's what makes this film so interesting.

Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery play Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a couple happily married, although there are a few quirks in their relationship. For instance, when they fight with one another it can last for days. During these fights, the record being 8 days, Mr. Smith neglects his legal practice and the couple remain in their apartment, engaged in a silent war. Only when one apologizes can an argument be called off.

At the end of a 3 day fight- pictured silently in the opening scene, which is almost Chaplinesque in it's layout- Mrs. Smith asks Mr. Smith if he had to do it all again would he still marry her? This is very dangerous ground to trod!

Arriving at his office he is greeted by an official from the state in which they were married. This official explains that due to a glitch in the survey of the town where they were wed, they are in fact, not wed at all. Mr. Smith, not knowing that the same official has visited Mrs. Smith, says nothing to her about it. This is the set up for the rest of the movie, which plays as smoothly as anything by Frank Capra.

A great departure from his usual fare, this film is sharply written, and of course flawlessly directed by the master himself. No Hitchcock film would be complete without his trademark "cameo" appearance, and this film is no different. But you have to really watch for it as this film was made in 1941 when the famed Director had a slimmer profile. Here, courtesy of You Tube is the walk on scene- Hitchcock making his entrance from the left, crossing the entranceway of the apartment building.

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