Monday, June 09, 2008

I Love You Again (1940)

After an of-its-time disappointment like “Juno”, it made sense to dip back into the archives for something timeless. This classic comedy by W.S. Van Dyke, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, proved just the thing. It’s a delightful romp filled with physical comedy and surprising innuendo.

Powell plays Larry Martin, a tea-totalling, cheapskate, Chamber of Commerce member. He suffers a blow to the head while saving a drowning man, and he wakes up with complete amnesia for the man who was Larry Martin. Instead, he has recovered his original personality, hard-partying con-man George Carey, an identity he apparently lost following a similar concussion 9 years earlier. With the help of Doc Ryan (Frank McHugh), whom he saved from drowning, Martin/Carey decides to clean out any available “Larry Martin” bank accounts before returning to his shady, big city life.

Once on land, however, Carey discovers that Martin has a lovely wife (Myrna Loy). He relishes the opportunity for a conjugal reunion, but quickly learns that Kay, bored to death with Larry Martin, has taken up with another man and is asking for a divorce. Thus, Carey returns to Martin’s home with the twin goals of swindling some money and winning the heart of his wife.

“I Love You Again” is not one of the greatest films of all time; it is just a funny, little movie that is comfortable in its own skin. The tone and pacing are just right, and the actors have a good time with it. There is plenty of slapstick, physical comedy and some word-play that is surprisingly dirty if you have a dirty mind.

The team of W.S. Van Dyke, William Powell, and Myrna Loy was apparently something of a 30’s and 40’s staple. Powell and Loy formed a Hollywood pair on the level of Bogart and Bacall, though they were a couple on screen only. Perhaps their most famous work was in the prolific “Thin Man” series. The pair was known for excellent chemistry and banter, all of which is on display in “I Love You Again.”

4 stars

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