Addicted to fun: courtship, play and romance in the screwball comedy

Manuela Ruiz Pardos

Abstract

During the 1930s and early 1940s Hollywood produced a cycle of many romantic comedies -including titles like It Happened One Night (1934), Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Awful Truth (1938), Holiday (1938), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and others- which have been grouped under the label of screwball comedy. In these narratives a new rhetoric largely based on concepts such as fun, eccentricity, adventure and partnership was articulated on the screen so as to visualize emerging patterns of coupledom and ultimately to define contemporary romantic and marriage ideals. In this paper I intend to explore the meanings of play and the pursuit of fun within the romantic ethos endorsed by screwball comedies as well as the centrality of these notions within the narrative structure of these texts in the light of the contemporary discourses on coupledom and the prevailing courting rituals which, by the 1930s and 1940s, were significantly grounded in the cultivation of leisure and the search for enjoyment as the main avenues towards romantic fulfilment.

Keywords

Cine; Géneros cinematográficos; Comedia; Melodrama; Análisis fílmico; Películas; Hollywood



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2000.13.12