Hi Diddle Diddle (1943)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 2, 1943 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 72 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Those in the mood for something nutty and screwy are most likely to enjoy Hi Diddle Diddle, a bit of tomfoolery that unfortunately isn't as off-the-wall as it wants to be. That's certainly not from lack of trying. Edmund L. Hartmann and Frederick J. Jackson's screenplay is cut from very loose cloth, and intentionally so: they writers want to have an "anything goes" kind of set-up so that they can throw in gags and nonsense. That's all well and good, but it takes a special kind of order to frame the kind of anarchy that they're after, and it's hard to achieve that order in a manner that gives the illusion of effortlessness. They don't achieve that, with the result that much of the humor feels forced. Nevertheless, there are some bits that are simply divine, including a running gag involving an actress who keeps showing up in every scene because she's the director's girl friend, and a sequence in which wallpaper depicting Richard Wagner and kin on a picnic suddenly comes to life and flees the din that the other characters are creating. The cast is certainly not to blame for the film's inability to be as daft and daffy as it wishes to be, for Billie Burke, Pola Negri Adolphe Menjou and the rest all give it their considerable best. Perhaps if director Andrew L. Stone had the sensibility of a Mel Brooks or a Groucho Marx, Diddle might have attained the zany heights it aims for.