The More the Merrier
|The More the Merrier|
|Directed by||George Stevens|
|Produced by||George Stevens|
|Written by||Richard Flournoy
Lewis R. Foster
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
|Editing by||Otto Meyer|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||104 minutes|
The More the Merrier is a 1943 American comedy film made by Columbia Pictures which makes fun of the housing shortage during World War II, especially in Washington, D.C.. The picture stars Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn. The movie was directed by George Stevens and written by Richard Flournoy, Lewis R. Foster, Garson Kanin (uncredited), Frank Ross (Jean Arthur's husband at the time), and Robert Russell.
Coburn won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, while Arthur was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Other nominations included Best Director, Best Picture, Best Writing, Original Story and Best Writing, Screenplay.
During World War II, retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) arrives in Washington, D.C. as an adviser on the housing shortage and finds that his hotel suite will not be available for two days. He sees an ad for a roommate and talks the reluctant young woman, Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur), into letting him sublet half of her apartment. Comedy ensues when the two clumsily get in each other's way while arising and preparing for work. Then Dingle runs into Sergeant Joe Carter (Joel McCrea), who has no place to stay while he waits to be shipped overseas. Dingle generously rents him half of his half.
When Connie finds out about the new arrangement, she orders them both to leave, but is forced to relent because she has already spent their rent money. Joe and Connie are attracted to each other, though she is engaged to high-paid bureaucrat Charles J. Pendergast (Richard Gaines). Connie's mother married for love, not security, and Connie is determined not to repeat her mistake. Dingle happens to meet Pendergast at a business luncheon and does not like what he sees. He decides that Joe would be a better match for his landlady.
One day, Dingle goes too far, reading aloud to Joe from Connie's private diary, including her thoughts about Joe. When she finds out, she demands they both leave the next day. Dingle accepts full blame for the incident, and Connie allows Joe to stay the few more days before he is to ship out to the fighting. Joe gives Connie an expensive suitcase as a surprise.
Due to a nosy teenage neighbor, Joe is taken in for questioning as a suspected spy for the Japanese, and Connie is brought along as well. When Dingle and Pendergast show up to vouch for them, it comes out that Joe and Connie are living in the same apartment. They are eventually released, but the story reaches a reporter. Dingle advises the young couple to get married to avoid a scandal and then have it annulled later. They follow his advice and wed. However (as Dingle had foreseen), Connie's attraction to Joe overcomes her prudence.
- Jean Arthur as Constance Milligan
- Joel McCrea as Joe Carter
- Charles Coburn as Benjamin Dingle
- Richard Gaines as Charles J. Pendergast
- Bruce Bennett as FBI Agent Evans
- Frank Sully as FBI Agent Pike
- Clyde Fillmore as Senator Noonan
- Stanley Clements as Morton Rodakiewicz
- Jean Stevens as Dancer (as Peggy Carroll)
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times enjoyed the film, calling it "as warm and refreshing a ray of sunshine as we've had in a very late Spring." He praised all three leads, the writers, and the director, singling out Coburn as "the comical crux of the film" who "handles the job in fine fettle." TV Guide characterizes it as "a delightful and effervescent comedy marked with terrific performances" and praises Coburn as "nothing short of superb, stealing scene after scene with astonishing ease. Time Out Film Guide notes that, "despite a belated drift towards sentimentality, this remains a refreshingly intimate movie."
DVD release 
This film is available on Region 1 (USA/Canada).
- Bernard Dick, The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row : Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c1993. p 160
- Bosley Crowther (May 14, 1943). "The More the Merrier (1943)". The New York Times.
- "The More the Merrier: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
- "The More the Merrier (1943)". Time Out Film Guide. Retrieved April 2, 2010.