I have to admit I am a sucker for romantic comedies, so when I saw Daniel M. Kimmel’s new book “I’ll Have What She’s Having” on the self at my local Barnes and Nobles I scooped it up. I am happy to say that Kimmel’s book is an entertaining, breezy and an informative read of fifteen of the best romantic comedies ever made. While you may agree or disagree with all his choices (What no “The Lady Eve”?) , the films he selected all have entertaining back-stories and are all deservedly among the best. Included are “Trouble in Paradise”, “The Shop Around The Corner”, “Adam’s Rib”, “Annie Hall”, “Some Like it Hot”, “There’s Something About Mary” and of course “When Harry Met Sally”, the movie from which the title of the book comes from. Kimmel is a former president of the Boston Society of Film Critics and contributes reviews to the Worcester Telegraph and Gazette. In the book, he gives you an inside look on what inspired the filmmakers as well as relationships, such as Carole Lombard and William Powell during the making of “My Man Godfrey”, how MGM lent Clark Gable to Columbia as punishment when he made “It Happened One Night.” One of my favorite stories is at the funeral of Director Ernest Lubitch where Directors Billy Wilder and William Wyler are leaving the services and Wilder remarks “No more Lubitch” and Wyler replies, “Worst yet, no more Lubitch movies.”
The making of “Sabrina” is a good example of how people can hate each other and still make a terrific film. Apparently, Humphrey Bogart disliked his co-stars, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn and he had problems with director Billy Wilder during the making of the film. In case you were wondering Holden and Hepburn mutually disliked Bogart too. Some stories are not new and have been told before. It is pretty well know of the many problems that existed on the set of “Some Like it Hot.” Marilyn Monroe’s lateness and forgetfulness forcing Billy Wilder to favor takes of Monroe to the detriment of Jack Lemmon and especially Tony Curtis. Wilder was forced to film in black and white so that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis would look more realistic as woman. However, there are plenty of newer stories that I, for one, were not familiar with. I found especially, enjoyable the backstories on “Annie Hall” and “When Harry Met Sally…..” Especially, interesting is the story concerning the fake orgasm scene in “When Harry Met Sally….” which is worth the price of the book. All in all this is an enjoyable, informative and entertaining read.
Thought I list my favorite romantic comedies (a baker’s dozen) in no particular order. There are plenty of runner-ups that I could mention, and of course, there are films I have yet to see like “The Philadelphia Story” for one, so the list, as most lists should be is not permanent and is always subject to change.
Some Like it Hot
The Lady Eve
When Harry Met Sally
The Thin Man (I know this is not really a romantic comedy but the chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing and there is a lot of humor.)
As Good as Gets
There’s Something About Mary
The Apartment (Probably not thought of as a romantic comedy however, the relationship between Lemmon and MacLaine is so well done. A smartly written, dark and bittersweet film.)
The Goodbye Girl
It Happened One Night
My Man Godfrey
Enjoyed reading this, John – I’m a fan of romantic comedies too, and the book sounds interesting, going behind the scenes of some of the best. Since reading your list, I’ve been trying to think what mine would be – must agree with you that these things change with time and as we see more movies.
Out of those you’ve chosen, ‘When Harry Met Sally’ is one of my all-time favourites, and I also love ‘Some Like It Hot’, ‘Adam’s Rib’ and ‘Annie Hall’ (I do like ‘Manhattan’ too, but not quite as much). Now I need to think up my own list!
Judy – Some Like it Hot is probably my number one film. Billy Wilder is one of my favorite film directors. A brilliant writer and great wit.
If you do put a list together please share it. I’d be interested in seeing it.