Sunshine Dad (1916)

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The late film historian William K. Everson has cited the 1916 De Wolf Hopper vehicle Sunshine Dad as one of the earliest examples of "screwball comedy." Despite a recent serious illness, Hopper was quite virile and athletic in the role of fiftyish man-about-town Alonzo Evergreen. Forced by the conditions of her father's will to marry Evergreen, the young widow Marrimore (Fay Tincher) does not appreciate her husband until he rescues her from a particularly sinister East Indian cult. The film's "maguffin" is a jewelled garter, worn throughout the picture on one of the widow's nether limbs. The climax of Sunshine Dad, in which everyone from the New York police department to the United States Marines comes to the rescue of hero and heroine, was later repeated in the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup.