The secret life of romantic comedy

Humour can be theorised as integral to the genre even if there are some films that do not provoke laughter. Romantic comedy has been described as a narrative of the heterosexual couple with a happy ending in which humour does not necessarily play an important part. The comic, protective, erotically-charged space is the space of romantic comedy. This book proposes a revised theory of romantic comedy and then tests its validity through the analysis of texts, but these films must not be expected to fully embody the theory. It proposes a change of approach in two different but closely linked directions. On the one hand, a comic perspective is a fundamental ingredient of what we understand by romantic comedy; on the other, the genre does not have a specific ideology but, more broadly, it deals with the themes of love and romance, intimacy and friendship, sexual choice and orientation. The book discusses two films directed by two of the most prestigious figures in the history of Hollywood comedy: Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be became part of the canon as one of the most brilliant comedies in the history of Hollywood in so far as its romantic comedy elements remained invisible. Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid was almost universally rejected because its satire was too base, too obscene, too vulgar. Discussing Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window and Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, the book attempts to move beyond the borders of comedy.

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