Fridays: Matthew Broaderick’s Day Off

Friday nights have been Screwball Comedies nights all this month of November on Mr. TV Feeds My Family’s favourite channel, TCM.
This final Friday night brings three from the great writer/director Preston Sturges: The Lady Eve (1941) with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, Christmas in July (1940), again with Stanwyck, always delicious, and The Palm Beach Story (1942), starring Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea. The fun begins at 8/7c.
Part of the joy in watching these black and white gems is the tremendous supporting casts. William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, Eric Blore and a surprisingly fun Rudy Vallee in Palm Beach all help define the spirit of screwball. Sturges, like Capra, used these great faces again and again and no wonder–they were always comedy gold.

“And now, that little Italian mouse, Topo Gigio”

The host for these Screwball evenings on TCM, however, is not. What the hell happened to Matthew Broaderick? Beuller? Beuller?? It’s like he had a comedy lobotomy. A more dead-pan intro to these great films cannot be imagined.
Standing in front of a stark blue background, dressed in what looks like somebody else’s clothes, Broaderick reads off the TelePrompTer like there’s a gun to his head. TCM dean Robert Osborne seems zanier than Carrot Top next to this stiff. He should have to surrender the first half of his name.
Please, Mankiewicz, anybody, toss a pie in this kisser.

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