THE MORE THE MERRIER (NR, 104 min., Columbia Pictures, Mar 26, 1943)
My friend — and one of my favorite actors — Chris Ellis, says “The almost kiss scene in The More The Merrier is the sexiest scene in cinema.” I can’t argue with that. But just about any scene in any movie with Jean Arthur could be nominated for that distinction. The “almost kiss scene” was the least of the the Breen office’s worries. Just the idea of unmarried men and women sharing bedrooms and bathrooms at the height of the housing shortage in Washington D.C. put the censor into overdrive.
The More the Merrier was Stevens’s last film for Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures before Stevens entered the War — with other distinguished directors at the top of their games (including Capra, Ford, Wyler and Houston). He intended to re-team Cary Grant and Jean Arthur (previously seen in Stevens’s The Talk of the Town). It ended up being Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea for …Merrier. According to Mark Harris’s outstanding book, Five Came Back, McCrea — like many associated with …Merrier, other than George Stevens — was downright nervous about the farcical nature of the film coupled with the script’s intention to live in the real ethos of World War II. McCrea begged his agent to get him out the movie after the first rehearsal. Thankfully, he was talked into going back.
Director: George Stevens, Writers: Robert Russell (screenplay, story) Frank Ross (screenplay, story) Richard Flournoy (screenplay) Lewis R. Foster (screenplay) Producer: George Stevens, Cinematographer: Ted Tetzlaff Composer: Leigh Harline Editor: Otto Meyer
CAST: Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn, Bruce Bennett, Frank Sully
Watched on DVD
*Every Monday I watch a classic or historically significant movie that falls into one of these categories: 1) Have never seen it, or 2) Have never seen it uncut, or 3) Have only seen it once, or 4) Haven’t seen it in a very long time.
Some information from: IMDb Pro, BoxOfficeMojo