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The Daffy & The Dizzy: Screwball Dames

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The wily, wacky women of screwball comedies are sometimes dizzy, usually daffy and often deliriously delightful. Once they get their hooks into a guy, there’s no letting go as she dings up his demure dignity while he literally falls over himself on their way to falling in love. In the second of this spring’s Screwball Express Film Studies sessions, Michael van den Bos takes a look at the key actresses of screwball comedies—such as Carole Lombard, Irene Dunne, Jean Arthur and Claudette Colbert— who caused headaches and heartaches for their male co-stars.

Michael’s 25 minute lecture is followed by a screening of Midnight (1939), a screwball Cinderella-story, directed by Mitchell Leisen, with Claudette Colbert as a chorus girl dressed up to the nines but down to her last cent… John Barrymore plays her fairy godfather, an aristocrat who doesn’t quite buy her story that she’s a Hungarian baroness but figures she might be useful in luring away his wife’s lover. And Don Ameche is the count turned taxi driver, Tibor, who runs her around town. Written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, Midnight is a Depression era fairytale, a chic romantic comedy with screwball highlights.


Please note that these films from nine decades ago sometimes reflect attitudes and assumptions that are considered offensive today, in particular in regards to their treatment of racial and ethnic difference, as well as towards sexuality and gender. VIFF invites audiences to view these films through a historical lens and with the critical distance that time provides for us.


10:30 am


11:00 am


Michael van den Bos


Mitchell Leisen


Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore

Country of Origin






150 min

Book Tickets

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