The romantic comedy film
in Laughing matters
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This chapter focuses on 1930s development of the sound romantic comedy film. It summarises how the genre of romantic comedy developed through the first decade of sound film with three selected examples illustrating the industrial background, the relationship of film to self-regulation and critical reactions. The three selected examples are It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story. It Happened One Night achieved stratospheric box-office success over other significant romantic comedies in 1934 and can be seen to initiate the genre in sound film properly. While Bringing Up Baby focuses to the exclusion of much else on the psychologies of its protagonists and their readiness for romance, The Philadelphia Story keys in to the social implications. While its ending clearly is conservative, of the two films it is the one to engage with a range of social positions and antagonisms and at least flirt with class-crossing romance.

Laughing matters

Understanding film, television and radio comedy

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