Starring Melvyn Douglas, Merle Oberon, Burgess Meredith, Alan Mowbray, Harry Davenport
(7-Very Good Film)
Absurdist. Fresh. Risqué.
“The grass is always greener,” is a cliché that seems a neverending source for books and movies. Oddly enough though, in films at least, that theme has been pretty one-sided, almost always from the perspective of the man. That Uncertain Feeling, directed by the great Ernst Lubitsch, who made a career out of pushing the envelope in charming, comedic style, shows that women are capable of falling into “the grass is always greener” folly as well. Merle Oberon plays Jill Baker, wife of Larry Baker (Douglas), an insurance salesman. Larry’s begun to seem rather boring to Jill, and, on top of that, he snores. Though she seems to have it all, she’s unhappy and seeks guidance from Dr. Vengard (Mowbray), a psychologist. It’s at his office that she meets and becomes infatuated with concert pianist Alexander Sebastian (Meredith), a misanthropic artist who seems a real original to Jill. Their drama plays out in classic screwball style with the main players constantly outsmarting themselves. Screwball comedies, more than any other genre or subgenre, allowed its female protagonists the most freedom (to be imperfect at times), and it’s fun to watch. Melvyn Douglas is wonderful in his role as the wronged husband. His comedic timing is especially remarkable to me, as I know him primarily from dramatic roles he did later in life.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-