Laughter (1930)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sophisticated Comedy  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Laughter's reputation rightly rests on its spritely pacing and snappy dialogue, all attributes that were rare in early talking pictures. But it takes a few minutes of somewhat talkie exposition to get to the bracing main body of the movie -- the opening minutes are a chore, talk that wears on the audience, but once Fredric March's character comes along, bringing with him a certain amount of source music (he is a pianist and composer) as well as excitement, the movie soars. Between the quicker pacing, as Nancy Carroll's newly-married showgirl finds all the things in life that she's been missing married to Frank Morgan -- and goes traipsing off with March into various adventures and misadventures -- and the naturalistic dialogue, the middle and second half of the movie are completely beguiling. And even when the story turns dark, toward the end, it all seems to grow easily out of what we've seen of these characters. Audiences will find a lot to enjoy here, on its own terms, with no apologies for the age of the film -- and to top off the interests it offers, Laughter was shot in New York, and uses several actual locations in the city and on Long Island. And for movie buffs, character actor mavens will also find Leonard Carey in his first screen role (as -- what else? -- a butler) and sharp-eyed viewers will also spot Eric Blore as a droll-tongued, inebriated reveler in the masquerade party scene.