Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy, Farce, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Nov 12, 1936 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

If Theodora Goes Wild falls just a little bit short of being a truly classic screwball comedy (like Bringing Up Baby or My Man Godfrey), it's certainly not for want of trying on the part of the actress assaying the title role. Recognizing her chance to break out in new directions, Irene Dunne grabs Theodora (the part and the movie) and runs with them for all they're worth. It's a delicious, irresistible star turn by a delicious, irresistible star, and the joy, the skill, and the humor that Dunne brings to the film make up for any of its deficiencies. There are a few problems, however, but most notably that the film is never as wild as its title indicates -- and as its setup dictates it must be. It's not the fault of the extremely well-structured screenplay (although it could stand a few more laughs here and there) so much as it is of director Richard Boleslawsky, whose work is good but not as sharp and pointed as is needed to make a perfect screwball comedy. Fortunately, Dunne and the rest of the cast are so good that most viewers won't notice, let alone care, about this. Melvyn Douglas is the perfect partner for Dunne, Thurston Hall is blustery fun, and Spring Byington is dead-on as the town gossip. All in all, Theodora is enormously entertaining.