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Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage
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Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  15 reviews
During the 30's and 40's, Hollywood produced a genre of madcap comedies that emphasized reuniting the central couple after divorce or separation. And the female protagonists were strong, independent, and sophisticated. Here, Stanley Cavell examines seven of those classic movies for their cinematic techniques, and for such varies themes as feminism, liberty and interdepende ...more
Paperback, 283 pages
Published January 15th 1984 by Harvard University Press (first published July 1st 1981)
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Elizabeth Knight
Not only is this a jaw droppingly gorgeous book about the very sophisticated and enlightened Romantic Comedy of the early-mid 20th C...but I'll be doggone if it isn't the best book on MARRIAGE itself I've ever read.
We start with the premise that all the couples in the films he discusses are independent, usually wealthy and childless. This means that each partner has a no compulsion to be in the relationship...and that it is the process of choosing a life and each other that spins at the center o
stephen k
If you have any interest in marriage, getting married or being married, this is an absolute must-read. As much as this is a deep reading of seven remarkably entertaining films of early Hollywood, it's also a deep reading of what it is to spend your life with someone and what justifies such a commitment. The films that compose the genre examined here all challenge whether two people should really be together, and they offer to us what it takes to prove that they should. These aren't just lessons ...more
Banu Pluie
"bir metinden fazladan anlam çıkarmak, sanki orada olmayan bir şeyi metnin içine yerleştirmek gibi birşeyi canlandırır. sonra orada ne olduğunu söylersiniz ve metinden başka birşey olmadığı anlaşılır.

ancak metnin 'satır aralarını okumak', bir eleştiri terimi olarak, oldukça dikkate değer birşeyi, gerçek bir iz üzerinde bile olsa aşırıya kaçmak gibi bir şeyi ortaya atar. öyleyse sorulacak soru, çoğu kez felsefi bir soru olan, okumanın nasıl sonlandırılacağı sorusudur. bu durum, eleştiriye dışarda
My one regret after reading Stanley Cavell's Purstuis of Happiness was that I hadn't seen all the movies recently enough to always remember what specific moments he referred to at every moment. The movie I know the best, The Awful Truth, was also the one essay that included a synopsis. I do now want to go back and watch the other films keeping in mind everything I read about them.

It definitely gave me a new way to think about the genre--and exciting way that makes me want to see all the movies a
Jan 07, 2009 sharon added it
Shelves: movie
isn't it funny that life is unfair......but looking forward to the journey we endure we may realized that everything happened has a purpose that indeed God still has a good plan for us.Even in the midst of troubles, pressures, disappointments or even uncertain things that happens in our way still God has a good plan for us....while looking at the movie i remember the word that God promise us saying "plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plan to give us hope and a future" quoted "Jeremiah 29:11" ...more
This book has been very influential in film theory and is definitely worthwhile reading if you have an interesting in the Classical Hollywood period. Cavell makes some really insightful points and identifies a number of common themes and ideas in the screwball comedies of the '40s. However, I found it pretty hard-going - the language is very flowery and Cavell approaches film theory from a philosophical and literary background, which is vastly different to the semiotic, ideological and psychoana ...more
Cavell's reading of these films is challenging and delightful. If you've any appreciation for the old screwball comedy/romance movies discussed in this book (It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, etc.) you would do well to pick up this book and watch the films in concert with reading it. Cavell demonstrates wonderfully what a sophisticated and philosophically astute reading can add to already enjoyable works of art.

And if you haven't seen the films, we
Cavell on Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday:

"These two simply appreciate one another more than either of them appreciates anyone else, and they would rather be appreciated by one another more than by anyone else. They just are at home with one another, whether or not they can ever live together under the same roof -- that is, ever find a roof they can live together under."

One of the best books about film -- and about marriage -- ever written, in my less-than-humble opinion. Stag
This book, while wonderfully erudite, does have one flaw. At times the prose clogs and you feel like you are reading a dense, philosophical treatise. Otherwise, it's perfect, with the best essay on "The Awful Truth" -- the greatest movie ever made -- that I have ever read. And it features this line on the ultimate screwball hero: Cary Grant "has the holiday in his eye."
This book examines the remarriage comedies of the 30s and 40s - The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, Adam's Rib, It Happened One Night, among others. Cavell reads the films using Kant and Freud, Milton and Luther. It's an interesting book, and one that you could even use as a sort of primer on marriage generally.
Although the writing can be turgid, this books is as much marriage manual as film history. My own copy has fallen apart I've consulted it so many times.
A great feminist take on seven classical Hollywood films. Only Robin Wood does a comparable job of rewriting films of the period along the lines of gender.
Nancy L.
I hope no one ever makes me pick between screwball comedies and pre-Code dramas. This is a great analysis of the former.
N and I are taking a class on Screwball comedies. Love screwball comedies, love Cavell!
Can't say enough good things about this book.
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“On Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday:

"These two simply appreciate one another more than either of them appreciates anyone else, and they would rather be appreciated by one another more than by anyone else. They just are at home with one another, whether or not they can ever live together under the same roof -- that is, ever find a roof they can live together under.”
“(Can human beings change? The humor, and the sadness, of remarriage comedies can be said to result from the fact that we have no good answer to that question.)” 1 likes
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