Now for your recommended dose of screwball comedy and cocktails!
Some of my title picks below are not very well-known, so hopefully all of you find some new screen treasures. And maybe some new cocktail ideas.
Movie: Hands Across the Table (1935) + Cocktail: Orange Whip = Sly Goals
This was the first Carole Lombard feature I ever saw, and her sexiness and mix of manic and deadpan hilarity quickly made her one of my favorite screen idols. In Hands Across the Table, cynical and determined Regi Allen (Lombard) only wants to marry a millionaire, and has no qualms telling most people. She meets quirky 'Ted' Drew (Fred MacMurray), and after some complications, they end up as roommates for a brief period while Drew hides out from his fiance. Their romance only gets steamier from there. The film also features Ralph Bellamy* playing his best kind of role: befuddled and spurned suitor. I love drinking an Orange Whip during this flick; it's bright, orange color and general sweetness flawlessly reflect the sweet confection that is Lombard in a screwball romance.
*Super random: Ralph Bellamy's character is in a wheelchair in this movie. Maybe an early sign of his later role as FDR in Sunrise at Campobello?*
Movie: Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938) + Cocktail: Grasshopper = Marriage Teaser
How do you teach a serial groom a lesson? To quote Guys and Dolls, "Marry the man today/And change his ways." Titled, but broke, Nicole De Loiselle (Claudette Colbert) meets and falls in love with millionaire Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper). After learning that her future husband has been married seven times before and all of them ended in divorce, Nicole angrily breaks the engagement, but then goes through the marriage to gain the upper hand and teach Brandon a lesson. They marry, but don't consummate the marriage and live separately, leaving Brandon desperately trying to bridge the gap between them. That's when the fun starts. Since the plot of this screwball romance is constantly darting around, I like drinking a Grasshopper (see what I did there?). I consider it to be a decadent drink, and watching Brandon spend thousands of dollars on ex-wives calls for decadence.
Movie: Ball of Fire (1941) + Cocktail: White Russian = Titillating Academia
Easily one of the most charming movies about language, Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper star in a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-inspired romp through academia and nightclubs. Cooper's Professor Bertram Potts is working on an encyclopedia comprising all human knowledge with seven other bachelor professors. After a chance meeting, Potts enlists singer 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea to help him with modern slang vocabulary. They fall in love despite their backgrounds, and Sugarpuss's gangster boyfriend and his henchmen. The film features a lot of hilarious discussion about language, and how even though people might technically be speaking the same language, the words they use to express themselves can sound completely foreign to others. A White Russian is perfect with this movie (yes there are other movies besides The Big Lebowski that White Russians are great for): Cooper's character enjoys wholesome glasses of milk, and Stanwyck is the kahlua that invades his life, and creates an intoxicating one for him.
Movie: The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) + Cocktail: Tequila Sunrise = Pregnancy Misadventure
Waking up after a wild night is taxing, finding out that you drunkenly married a stranger the night before is shocking, but discovering that you're pregnant because of said wild, wedding night is truly atrocious. Preston Sturges' endearing comedy examines a woman's ultimate life surprise. Sweet Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) has a soft spot for soldiers, and after partying with a group of them one night, wakes up to find out she married a soldier, and can't remember anything else except that his name included a Z. Sometime later, Trudy finds out she's pregnant...I've had some rough nights, but none of them compare to Trudy's sybaritism. Believe it or not, Trudy's biggest surprise doesn't come until the end of the movie. To keep up with all the mania, drinking a Tequila Sunrise is the only drinking journey to take. For me, tequila equals a wild night out, while the word 'sunrise' fits perfectly with Trudy waking up to her nighttime decisions.
Movie: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) + Cocktail: Turquoise Blue = Spooky Insanity
Have you ever wondered what your relatives keep in their basements? No? Neither have I. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) really wishes that he didn't know what his sweet, matronly aunts kept buried in their basement, buried being the key word. Despite publicly calling marriage an "old-fashioned superstition," writer Mortimer marries 'the girl next door' (Priscilla Lane) on Halloween (because all spooky things can only happen on Halloween). When he goes to share the news with his aunts who raised him, and his brother who believes he's Teddy Roosevelt, in pre-hipster and yuppie Brooklyn, Mortimer finds a corpse in a window seat. He discovers that his aunts poison lonely, old men, to end their presumed suffering and let them go to a better place. They consider the poisonings to be one of their charities, and don't see it as murder. They have 'Teddy Roosevelt' bury the bodies in the basement, letting him believe that he is digging the Panama Canal and burying yellow fever victims. Nice system, right? This movie is so zany in all the right ways, and my body always hurts after watching it because I've been laughing so hard. The frenzy and mania hurtles towards a neat ending; thank goodness for Mortimer's peace of mind. Drinking a Turquoise Blue with this movie is perfection: a bright blue cocktail is both kooky and spooky, complementing the Halloween action of the movie and the general delirium on the screen.
What are some of your favorite screwball comedies? Are there any movies that you like to pair with certain drinks or types of alcohol?