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When did nice guys get ahead?


IDenyUMyEssence

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I've been interested in learning this for awhile, so I thought I'd ask on here...

 

In the '30s-'40s, basing this mostly off of Cary Grants works, romantic comedies basic plot went - woman is with strong, opinionated jerk; woman leaves jerk meets nice guy; jerk uses all sorts of cunning to win woman back; nice guy gets dumped when woman learns jerk actually loves her. (I.E. The Awful Truth)

 

Now a days, romantic comedies are the complete opposite - the girl is with a jerk but doesn't realize he's a jerk. nice guy comes along, becomes her friend, jerk is mean to him, girl realizes the jerk is a jerk, dumps him & gets with nice guy. (I.E. Wedding Crashers)

 

It's a complete 180 from the way these stories went 70 years ago.

 

Does anyone have an idea of when this shift occurred?

 

Thanks for any help!

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I haven't seen those dynamics in play as much as you describe.

 

I always saw it more as, Girl is with doting, Clueless Dork (and knows it), Girl meets far more Interesting Guy. Girl dumps Clueless Dork (who may then pair off with girl's Less Interesting Friend) and becomes Mrs. Interesting Guy.

 

It was ever thus.

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*I always saw it more as, Girl is with doting, Clueless Dork (and knows it), Girl meets far more Interesting Guy. Girl dumps Clueless Dork (who may then pair off with girl's Less Interesting Friend) and becomes Mrs. Interesting Guy.*

 

This is about right, especially during screwball's heyday. Except then, she leaves exciting husband, often Cary Grant, for Mr. Bland, usually played by Ralph Bellamy (The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife, His Girl Friday) or Don Defore (Second Honeymoon, He Married His Wife). She then realizes she still loves Mr. Excitement and chooses him over security with Mr. Bland.

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I really disagree with you assessment about these women.

 

Irene Dunne was in no way out of control in *My Favorite Wife* or *The Awful Truth*. It's obvious to me that Cary Grant was one out of control in both films. In Wife, he had 2 wives and 1 boyfriend to contend with--and he was clueless. In *Truth* he made a constant fool of himself, trying to sabotage Dunne's new romances.

 

Have you got proof to back up your opinion?

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I really disagree with your assessment about these women.

 

Irene Dunne was in no way out of control in *My Favorite Wife* or *The Awful Truth*. It's obvious to me that Cary Grant was one out of control in both films. In Wife, he had 2 wives and 1 boyfriend to contend with--and he was clueless. In *Truth* he made a constant fool of himself, trying to sabotage Dunne's new romances.

 

Have you got proof to back up your opinion?

 

Edited by: cujas on May 29, 2010 4:11 PM

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Probably "out-of control" is the wrong term. I have read that a characteristic of most screwball comedies is that the woman was the one that was "out there", while the man played the "straight" role. BRINGING UP BABY is a good example. MY MAN GODFREY is another.

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You are correct about Lombard in *Godfrey*. But I feel that the genre was a good one for women to star in. It wasn't a woman's picture necessarily (not a soap like *Stella Dallas*.) The woman was allowed to be assertive, yet feminine. She may have seemed out-of-control, but she was focused with a goal. Hepburn did all those things to Grant in *Baby* because she loved him and didn't know how else to keep him from marrying that other woman.

 

I rest my case.

 

Edited by: cujas on May 30, 2010 4:28 PM

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Yes, that's true for the most part. But--Let's go back to *My Favorite Wife*. Cary Grant was absoutely out-of-control and fabulous! I'd say screwball is generally a woman's vehicle. But Grant was, probably, the only man who did it successfully too.

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cujas wrote:

*Irene Dunne was in no way out of control in My Favorite Wife or The Awful Truth. It's obvious to me that Cary Grant was one out of control in both films. In Wife, he had 2 wives and 1 boyfriend to contend with--and he was clueless. In Truth he made a constant fool of himself, trying to sabotage Dunne's new romances.*

 

Actually, Dunne did her best to sabotage Grant's new relationship . . . except maybe she made a sublime fool of herself at the other girl's family's house.

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It's a sequel because the same director planned to make it that way--at the last minute, he had to step out and was replaced.

 

Do you think *Solid Gold Cadillac* is a Romantic Comedy? Is there anything remotely romantic about a man like Paul Douglas?

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