American Movies' "Closest Equivalent to Restoration Comedy"

  • Oliver Tilley


"IT MAY BE AMERICAN MOVIES' CLOSEST EQUIVALENT TO RESTORATION COMEDY" (Pauline Kael on Bringing Up Baby) I will attempt to ascertain the accuracy of Pauline Kael's comment. It is a difficult issue, demanding a telescoping of two distinctive cultures, nations and media as well as an exploration of the concept of genre and intertextuality. In many ways Kael's assertion - written, as she herself attests 'hurriedly', being 'frequently dependent on [her] old, spotty memories'(1) - is superficial and breaks down after analysis. Her comparison is flawed in its assumptions that genres can contain such diverse works as they denote, over a fifty-year period on the one hand and a 10 year period on the other; while the idea that these genres can then be parallelled with each other is yet further problematic. Despite this, Kael's perhaps unthinking observation proves a worthwhile area to explore and...