Thursday 8 July 2021

The More the Merrier (George Stevens, 1943)

The More the Merrier

Restored in 4K in 2019 by Sony Pictures Entertainment at Cineric, Roundabout West and Prasad laboratories, from the nitrate original negative and the nitrate dupe negative preserved at Library of Congress and BFI National Archive. Playing at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna on July 24 & 27 and at Cinema Rediscovered in Bristol on July 31.

In this, George Stevens’s most sophisticated comedy, the wartime housing (and male species) shortage in Washington DC is the main excuse for the mischievous Charles Coburn – sharing a tiny flat with Jean Arthur – to sublet his half of the living space to Joel McCrea, deliberately pushing the two younger flatmates into a shared bed. The credit for the script should go to the uncredited Garson Kanin who wrote it for, and was paid by, the scrupulous Arthur, in search of a script that she could like (she was temporarily suspended from Columbia for rejecting too many). When the script finally reached Stevens’s hands in June 1942, it had a different ending in which the three characters continue to share the flat – typically of Stevens, he altered it.