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No Time for Comedy

(1940 b 93')

En: 5 Ed: 6

Adapted from S. N. Behrman's play, a new playwright marries the star that saved his comedy; but after success, a married woman urges him to write serious drama.

New playwright Gaylord Esterbrook (James Stewart) from a small town arrives at rehearsal and meets star Linda Paige (Rosalind Russell), producer Richard Benson (Clarence Kolb), and cynical director Morgan Carrell (Allyn Joslyn). At an evening meeting Morgan says Gay's play is inept, but Linda persuades Benson to do it until his valet rejects it. Gay answers Linda's questions but runs off to see a fire. Linda talks the cast into doing the play without salaries. On opening night the audience likes the first two acts. During the third act Morgan and Gay get drunk. Gay socks Morgan, and Linda finds them at the police station. Gay and Linda wait in the park for the reviews, which are favorable. He reads that she helped produce the play, and he kisses her. Linda proposes to Gay, and they marry.

Three more hits follow, and Morgan returns from Hollywood. At a party Gay meets stockbroker Philo Swift (Charles Ruggles) and his wife Amanda Swift (Genevieve Tobin), who expects better writing from Gay. Philo calls on Linda and tells her that Gay is at his house with his wife. He tells Linda to warn Gay about Amanda, who aims to inspire him. Gay comes home and tells Linda he has nothing to say. She says she still loves him and leaves to dine with Morgan.

Linda is taking Morgan to see Amanda and Gay. Philo leaves Amanda alone with Gay, who tells her his idea. Linda and Morgan arrive, and Morgan leaves her with Amanda, who says Gay's new play has no part for her. Linda makes Amanda upset, and Gay complains and leaves to write, followed by Amanda. Philo comforts crying Linda. Linda and maid Clementine (Louise Beavers) read Gay's tragedy, but Clementine laughs. Gay comes home and fires Clementine. Linda says she does not like his play, and Gay says he will marry Amanda. Linda says she doesn't like Gay anymore. News reports the swapping of wives as Philo plans to marry Linda. Philo says that Gay's play is sentimental, but Linda stays for the last act that only she applauds. Amanda now wants to inspire Morgan. On stage alone Gay thanks Linda, who tells him to make his points about people going along with dictators by using satire. Linda says she gave up Philo, and Gay kisses her for the first time in two months.

This uneven comedy-drama is the result of a sensitive comedy writer's dilemma of what to write when the world is currently being oppressed by dictators. Gay finds he was seduced by the ambition of Amanda to influence a great writer, but her effect was to squelch his talent.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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