Screwball comedy, a genre invented during the Depression, often features a madcap woman (think Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck) embroiling an earnest and slightly stodgy man in a series of wild adventures. Along the way, Mr. Uptight is humiliated in one way or another and has his masculinity challenged. Although women are the undisputed stars of screwball, these films are full of gorgeous men in delightfully awkward situations.
Because who doesn’t want to see Cary Grant in a lady’s negligée? (from “Bringing up Baby”)
Sometimes, the male lead is only temporarily at a disadvantage, and he is allowed to reassert his masculinity, as in My Man Godfrey, where William Powell, homeless and penniless, accepts a job as a butler in the home of a rich girl played by Carole Lombard. Eventually, of course, he saves the family and marries the beautiful wild child.
The elegant William Powell looking delightfully disheveled (from “My Man Godfrey”)
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