Sunday, December 20, 2009

The More The Merrier

The More The Merrier (1943) is a comedy directed by George Stevens. The film stars Jean Arthur, Joel McCrae and Charles Colburn.

During World War II, retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) arrives in Washington, D.C. as an adviser on the housing shortage and finds that his hotel suite will not be available for two days.

Dingle sees an ad for a roommate in the paper. When he arrives, there is a line of applicants. Dingle calmly walks into the apartment complex unnoticed by the applicants. He then changes the sign to no vacancy and tells the applicants there is no longer a room available. He then awaits the tennant arrival home.

Dingle manages to talk to tennant, a reluctant young woman, Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur), into letting him sublet half of her apartment. The next morning is a hilarous series of events as Dingle tries to comply with Connie's minute by minute schedule.

Later that day, Dingle meets Sergeant Joe Carter (Joel McCrea), who has no place to stay while he waits to be shipped overseas. Dingle generously rents him half of his half without Connie's knowledge.

That evening, Connie arrives home and another series of hilarious events unfold as Dingle tries to hide the newest tennant from Connie until he can break the news to her.

When Connie finds out about the new arrangement, she orders them both to leave, but is forced to relent because she has already spent their rent money. Joe and Connie are attracted to each other, though she is engaged to bureaucrat Charles J. Pendergast (Richard Gaines). Dingle meets Pendergast at a luncheon and does not like what he sees. He decides that Joe would be a better match for his landlady and begins matchmaking Joe and Connie.

One day, Dingle goes too far, reading aloud to Joe from Connie's private diary. When she finds out, she demands they both leave the next day. Dingle accepts full blame for the incident, and Connie allows Joe to stay the few more days before he is shipped to Africa.

Due to a nosy teenage neighbor, Joe is taken in for questioning, as a suspected spy for the Japanese, and Connie is brought along as well. When Dingle and Pendergast show up to vouch for them, it comes out that Joe and Connie are living in the same apartment. Dingle advises the young couple to get married to avoid a scandal and then have it annulled later. They follow his advice and wed. However, Dingle arranges it so they will stay married by knocking down a wall that seperates Joe and Connie's bedroom in the apartment.

This is a delightful comedy and one of Charles Colburn's best performances. Jean Arthur and Joel McCrae make a delightful couple.

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