The More the Merrier
In the middle of World War II, Hollywood, like the rest of the nation, had to make do with a number of shortages, which should have cramped production. It didn't: Movies boomed. Hollywood has always thrived under restrictions -- look what great stuff the prissy Production Code forced writers to come up with. George Steven's jaunty The More the Merrier, a rollicking 1943 farce about the housing shortage brought on by wartime deprivations runs amok with the theme of shortages and making do. The hapless victim is the ever-delightful Jean Arthur, who rents a room to a boarder -- an aging businessman (Charles Coburn) -- only to have him sublet his room to a sparking army sergeant (Joel McCrea, vastly underrated as a romantic comic lead, except by the great Preston Sturges). Naturally, love and confusion and near- misses ensue, as in every good screwball comedy, with the war only a distant problem. No one does romantic confusion as well as Arthur, and Stevens' cinematography remains, as always, superlative.