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In screwball comedy, the romantic couple at the center of the story are eccentrics, often portrayed through slapstick.The films are usually set among wealthy people who can, despite the hardships of the Depression, afford to behave oddly.denotes lunacy, craziness, eccentricity, ridiculousness, and erratic behavior.
The zany but glamorous characters often have contradictory desires for individual identity and for union in a romance under the most unorthodox, insane or implausible circumstances (such as in Preston Sturges' classic screwball comedy and battle of the sexes The Lady Eve).Often this mismatch comes about because the man is much further down the economic scale than the woman ( we find a rare statement on that, when the leading woman says, once speaking to someone other than her future husband: "He’s the man I’m going to marry, he doesn’t know it, but I am." Class issues are a strong component of screwball comedies: the upper class tend to be shown as idle and pampered, and have difficulty getting around in the real world.The most famous example is ; some critics believe that this portrayal of the upper class was brought about by the Great Depression, and the poor moviegoing public's desire to see the rich upper class brought down a peg.Screwball comedy was tied to a period of transition in American humor that gained momentum by the late 1920s.The dominant comedy character had been the capable cracker-barrel type, such as Will Rogers; it now became an antihero, best exemplified by characters in , 1937).
For example, Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 thriller The 39 Steps features the gimmick of a young couple who find themselves handcuffed together and who eventually, almost in spite of themselves, fall in love with one another, and Woody Van Dyke's 1934 detective comedy The Thin Man portrays a witty, urbane couple who trade barbs as they solve mysteries together.