Movies are all products of their time, but comedies are especially tricky. Laughter is often based on behavior that is in opposition to societal norms, so what’s funny to one generation may seem stale or toothless a few decades later. Which is why it’s remarkable that this nearly 78-year-old screwball farce from writer/director Preston Sturges is still so dang hilarious.
The plot is a lot more, uh, adult than you might expect for the ‘40s: Small town gal Trudy Kockenlocker is out at a bar celebrating with the boys before they head off to war. She has too much to drink and wakes up the next morning with a ring on her finger, but she can’t remember who she married (“…it had a z in it. Like Ratzkywatzky. Or was it Zitzkywitzky?”). Even worse, she soon realizes she’s pregnant and minus one marriage license.
The innuendo-laden script, which only gets kookier from there, ran into problems with the censors of the era, naturally, and even though it’s incredibly tame by today’s standards, it’s still sharp and funny throughout. (If you’re a classic cinema buff who thinks this list should feature Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels or The Lady Eve instead, I can’t argue too much.) —Joel Cunningham
Where to stream: Kanopy, digital rental
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