Cocktails & Screwball: Round 2

After I wrote my post on cocktail and screwball comedy pairings, I found myself watching different screwball comedies and drinking different cocktails, and decided that another entry on the best drink to screwball pairings was essential. Screwball comedies always make me laugh and smile, even without the alcohol, so I often watch and re-watch as many as possible. It probably makes me sound completely nutty to plan out my drinks with my movies, but it should be evident by now that if anyone would do something like that, it would be me. I hope you enjoy this second round of suggestions.


Movie: Trouble in Paradise (1932) + Cocktail: Kir Royale = Sexy Taunting

Trouble in Paradise perfectly shows off the famous 'Lubitsch Touch' (named for the director Ernst Lubitsch): a description that denotes high levels of sophistication, wit, charm, sexual subtleties, refinement, and elegance that were shown in shots and scenes in his movies, with a visual style that makes the audience complicit in the action. This confection gem starts out with professional thief Gaston (Herbert Marshall) and pickpocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins) falling in love and deciding to steal from wealthy perfume company owner Madame Colet (Kay Francis). After some sexy flirting between the Madame and Gaston, an inevitable love triangle forms. Being a pre-code film, there is much more sexual innuendo, and frankness about sex in general, than most films would have later in the decade. Being that this movie is one of my all-time favorites and it takes place in France, I always drink one of my favorite concoctions: Kir Royale. This simple French drink makes me feel like I'm back in Paris, mainly because I always have one at French cafes, and I like matching the champagne with the dizzying and tantalizing action in the movie. 


Movie: Dinner at Eight (1933) + Cocktail: Manhattan = Dignified Idiocy

I love movies where the rich behave badly. It gives me an undeserved feeling of superiority that is spectacularly satisfying, like drinking a bottle of wine and not waking up with a headache. Dinner at Eight is one of those movies that doesn't just have a large cast, but a name-dropping cast: Dressler, Harlow, Burke, and two of the Barrymore's. It really doesn't get much better than that. We still see movies today with name-dropping ensembles, like the recent catastrophe Mother's Day. Anyway, all these illustrious characters come together in the movie because of an invitation to dinner for a Lord from Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke), who is too preoccupied to notice that her husband (Lionel Barrymore) and daughter (Madge Evans) could care less about this major societal event. The movie primarily focuses on all the characters' secrets, affairs, and lies that involve each other, and then they all come together at the end for a polite dinner, while masking their resentment and depression at the table. Very true to life, which is what makes it so funny. A manhattan cocktail (with bourbon) is my personal preference to drink when all these shenanigans go down, mainly because I always look for excuses to drink more bourbon, but also for the name: the movie does actually take place in Manhattan, the place. Very original I know. I also like to imagine that it's the cocktail of choice for the characters. If you watch this movie, I hope you all feel that same smug feeling of superiority that I feel.


Movie: Twentieth Century (1934) + Cocktail: Long Island Iced Tea = Raucous Insanity

Twentieth Century may be the definitive screwball comedy; it includes all the essential ingredients from the dizzy dame to the bewildered hero to rapid-fire dialogue. I love this movie, and each time I watch it, I try to imitate Carole Lombard's ability to say quirky remarks ("I'm as calm as a fish") and still look like the most beautiful woman in the world. For some reason, when I attempt to do both in real life, I do not pull it off quite as well as Lombard. I'm guessing that's what people mean when they say that life is full of many disappointments. Anyway, in Twentieth Century, Lombard plays actress Lily Garland, who breaks up personally and professionally with controlling Broadway director Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore--also known as Drew Barrymore's grandfather). Desperate to get his muse back, Jaffe boards the Twentieth Century train that Lily is also taking and plans to trick her into returning to him. While this movie does revolve around a somewhat abusive relationship, all the arguments and scheming are hilarious, so you kind of forget that small fact. To match the hilarious insanity, I like to sip on a Long Island Iced Tea because it includes different types of liquor (someone had to be a little bit insane to decide to combine tequila, rum, gin, and vodka in one drink), and drinking all of those different liquors at once tastes oddly amazing, but does lead me down insanity road (in a fun way, of course).


Movie: Theodora Goes Wild (1936) + Cocktail: Pink Lady = Fierce Depravity

Irene Dunne is one of my favorite ladies of the silver screen. She could act silly and acidly insult everyone around her, but still make men fall hopelessly in love with her. And she could carry a tune. Theodora Goes Wild was Dunne's first comedy, and she ended up making more classic screwball comedies, the genre that she is best remembered for. Theodora Lynn (Dunne) lives in tiny, conservative Lynnfield, Connecticut with her two spinster aunts. Theodora secretly writes disreputable books under the pseudonym Caroline Adams, whose latest work is causing a major scandal in Lynnfield, but no one in town knows that Theodora is really the 'sinful' author. Only her New York City publisher knows, and while at his office, she meets charming illustrator Michael Grant (Melvyn Douglas). Michael ends up following Theodora to Lynnfield, and worried that he'll reveal her secret, she lets him stay at her aunts' house under the pretense of a gardener. With Michael's influence, Theodora abandons her monotonous life for New York, where she decides to raise hell and live up to her iniquitous Caroline Adams persona. When I first watched this movie, I happened to be drinking a Pink Lady, which I still like to do partly for sentimental reasons, but also I find that the blush color nicely represents Theodora's prim and innocent Lynnfield self, while the inclusion of gin fits her wild, sophisticated persona after she decides to live life on her own terms. This movie is not as well-known today, so please watch it and spread the word.


Movie: The More the Merrier (1943) + Cocktail: Daiquiri = Cramped Seduction 

The More the Merrier is easily one of the best comedies ever made, and it accurately (and hilariously) depicted the housing shortage in WWII-Washington, D.C. While the plot of this movie is very era-specific, the hijinks and wisecracks can make anyone, no matter the year, laugh like a maniac (well, maybe not a maniac--that's just how I laugh at this movie). I mainly love this movie though because it introduced me to one of my favorite stars, Jean Arthur. I love watching her as a serious, career-focused woman whose orderly life becomes unspooled by love and a meddlesome old man. Constance Milligan (Jean Arthur) decides to rent out half of her apartment to help the war effort, and is shocked when the older Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) answers her roommate ad. She is reluctantly talked into letting Mr. Dingle stay with her, and while Constance goes to work, Mr. Dingle meets Sergeant Joe Carter (Joel McCrea), and then decides to rent half of his room to Joe, leading to all three becoming roommates. I've tested out many different drinks, wine, and beer with this movie, and I found that a daiquiri is the only cocktail way to go. The sweetness of the rum denotes Mr. Dingle's well-intentioned, but overbearing, scheme to get Constance and Joe together. While the touch of lime juice signifies for me Constance's unbending sense of law and order in her life--she literally has every minute of her day planned out. If the plot of the movie and the cocktail are still not making you want to screen The More the Merrier right away, then at least watch the movie for one of the sexiest film scenes ever. You will not be sorry.


Readers, are there any cocktails or other drinks you enjoy with movies? Do you have any other favorite screwball movies?