FOUR’S A CROWD (director: Michael Curtiz; screenwriters: Casey Robinson/Sid Herzig/from the novel All Rights Reserved by Wallace Sullivan; cinematographer: Ernie Haller; editor: Clarence Kolster; music: Eddie Durant/Ray Heindorf/M.K. Jerome/Heinz Roemheld; cast: Errol Flynn (Robert Kensington Lansford), Olivia de Havilland (Lorri Dillingwell), Rosalind Russell (Jean Christy), Patric Knowles (Patterson Buckley), Walter Connolly (John P. Dillingwell), Hugh Herbert (Silas Jenkins); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: David Lewis/Hal B. Wallis/Jack L. Warner; Warner Brothers; 1938)
“Old-fashioned lighthearted romantic screwball comedy that is as dumb as it is energetic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Michael Curtiz(“Casablanca”/”Black Fury”/”Noah’s Ark”) directs this old-fashioned lighthearted romantic screwball comedy that is as dumb as it is energetic, and hardly original as it follows along the lines of too many familiar farce comedies. It was supposedly based on the life of Ivy Ledbetter Lee, a public relations man for the Rockefeller family, and is based on the novel All Rights Reserved by Wallace Sullivan. Writers Casey Robinson and Sid Herzig eschew any sense of reality to exaggerate things and shoot for laughs anyway they can get them. The madcap comedy does its darnedest to satirize big business for hiring unscrupulous PR people to cover up their defects by any means possible and gain a good public image.
When ace reporter Jean Christy (Rosalind Russell) learns the playboy millionaire publisherPatterson “Pat” Buckley (Patric Knowles) plans to close the newspaper where she works, she convinces the dim-witted publisher to rehire the arrogant conceited former managing editor, Robert Kensington Lansford (Errol Flynn), he previously fired to save the paper from financial ruin. The conceited fast-talker Lansford now has a public relations business and is rebuffed by the mean-spirited eccentric millionaire John P. Dillingwell (Walter Connolly) while chasing after him as a potential client. The tycoon happens to be the grandfather of the pretty heiress Lorri Dillingwell (Olivia de Havilland), who is dating the publisher. When working again for the paper, Lansford runs an expose on a questionable business deal made by Dillingwell that made him a bundle and the tycoon thereby becomes the most hated man in America despite his noted philanthropy. Lorri blames her boyfriend publisher for running the story and breaks up with him. Later Lansford impresses toy train enthusiast Dillingwell with his skill running model trains and is miraculously hired to work for him.
The gist of the story has Lansford fall for Lorri while at the same time showing a romantic interest for Jean, and it ends in a whirlwind of nonsense that’s neither funny nor witty but always amiable and daffy.
Hugh Herbert’s comedy scene as the goofy justice of the peace, gives the films its belly laughs.
REVIEWED ON 12/29/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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