The More the Merrier (1943)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

World War II provided fodder for a wide range of films, either directly or indirectly. The More the Merrier uses the war-related housing crunch in Washington DC to set up its somewhat incredible premise, but the credibility problem never really threatens to become an issue, thanks to director George Stevens' fast-clipped pacing, a witty and amusing screenplay and a set of engaging performances from its trio of stars. Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn are excellent; McCrea's work in the seduction scene is beautiful, and Coburn is a delight throughout. However, it's Jean Arthur's performance that makes the picture. With a voice that sounds something like a beautiful songbird nursing a sore throat, Jean Arthur is utterly charming and captivating. An expert comedienne, Arthur has more than her share of moments here, such as her toothpaste-filled scream when discovering Coburn outside her window and a wonderful doubletake upon first seeing McCrea. Arthur and McCrea also have an enviable chemistry, and they work up considerable heat together -- heat that is all the more effective for being subdued. And their separate-but-together rhumba sequence is delightful. The unique Arthur would make only three more films, retiring after the classic Shane.