In the past fifty years, pretty much everyone who’s tried to strike gold with a screwball comedy has just struck out. It’s like the genre vanished with Bowery flophouses and sidewalk apple vendors and literally can’t be recreated. Equal parts phsyical slapstick, razor verbal wit and satiric social commentary, the screwball comedy might be the most demanding form of film, at least after Faces of Death. You’ve got to talk fast, fall hard and be one step ahead of everyone else the entire time.
None of that stops people from trying. Fuggin’ bully for them, I say. But still, Michael Arndt wins an Oscar for his Little Miss Sunshine script and now he wants to be Billy Wilder? I guess I can’t blame him, and I know they only sell hubris in that one giant size, but really, guy. Take a step back.
Arndt wants, in addition to another vowel, to pen a remake of Midnight. Co-written by Wilder and released in 1939, Midnight is one of the great screwball comedies, and perhaps the best moment in Claudette Colbert’s career. Since Colbert is just a little too dusty to reprise her role, Arndt is writing with Reese Witherspoon in mind. I can actually see Reese as a Colbert figure. After her movie-ed up version of a tough biker/punk chick in Penelope, I can see that she’s got the inner core of walled-off indifference to play Eve, a penniless showgirl (or model, more likely) who rejects a cabdriver’s advances, appropriates his name and infiltrates Parisian society as a fake Baroness.
You know, the more I think about the plot of this movie, the more I can see the remake ‘angles’, and they all make me want to put a bullet in my forehead, so I’m just going to be over here, finishing the Prognosticator.