That Uncertain Feeling (1941)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy of Manners, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Apr 20, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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That Uncertain Feeling is a bubbly and effervescent concoction, a champagne cocktail that packs a nice, gentle wallop. As is often the case, Ernst Lubitsch is exploring the terrain where sex, marriage, and money all meet -- and while this meeting makes for rough going for the participants, it's all a joyride for the viewer. Walter Reisch and Donald Ogden Stewart's screenplay is beautifully structured and filled with witty banter and clever observations; helped by Lubitsch's unerring hand, it also easily takes the full measure of its characters with the minimum of fuss, so that a simple act like moving a party guest or hiding a particular vase is both amusing and meaningful. As for the cast, Merle Oberon is not quite up to the demands of the project -- she tries hard, but the effort shows -- though she still comes off more than acceptably overall and quite nicely in many places. Melvyn Douglas, on the other hand, is pitch perfect, sailing through the part with ease but hitting every note dead-on, whether manufacturing a masculine chuckle that is both appealing and irritating or finding the courage to slap his wife as she demands. Eve Arden is a delight in a small part, but the real comic jewel is provided by Burgess Meredith, playing his misanthropic pianist as a Mephistophelean leprechaun. His laser beam eyes piercing at the slightest provocation, Meredith's creation is both scary and hilarious, and gives the film the punch that makes it special.