Brooke is away until tomorrow, so tonight I invited Brent (my ex-roommate and best man) over to sample my latest culinary triumph, Apple and Caraway Stuffed Chicken Breasts (I changed the recipe to leave out the currants). Don’t worry. I’ve made this for Brooke twice already. We ate dinner watching The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942), accompanied by half a bottle of Château La Baronne. Things sure have changed since my bachelor days!
The movie was fine, but marred I think by some odd casting. Bette Davis is great, but playing opposite her was some rube named Richard Travis, who was absolutely wooden and boring. It’s no wonder he was limited to B-movies for the rest of his career. And Jimmy Durante? Well, it’s a good thing his screen time was limited to about 15 minutes, as that’s about all I could take. I love screwball comedies, but there are many finer examples than this. From this era alone, you could take His Girl Friday (1940), or The Philadelphia Story (1940), or any of Preston Sturges’ films (The Lady Eve (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), Sullivan’s Travels (1942)). It’s true that they don’t make films like this anymore, and The Man Who Came To Dinner would be a great film if released today. It’s just not that great when compared to some of the other greats of its time.
By way of contrast, this morning I watched a recent Bollywood blockbuster, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Unbelievably corny, and filled with impossible plot twists; nevertheless, I was completely absorbed. The chemistry between the two leads was very real, and the emotions were genuine. Well before the predictably happy ending, I was reaching for the Kleenex.