Back before there was Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, or Meg Ryan and virtually any other male lead, there was Kate Hepburn and Cary Grant, Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Kate Hepburn and – well, you get the idea. Never seen the inimitable Ms Hepburn on the silver screen before? Now’s your chance: she and a host of other sharp, witty, irrepressible, and, of course, gorgeous comedic heroines will be dazzling audiences throughout the month, as part of the Screwball Women series at BFI Southbank.
The series is just one of several events associated with the Birds Eye View Film Festival, kicking off today at various venues around the city. In addition to the comedy retrospectives Screwball Women and Clowning Glories, a celebration of women in pre-1930s film comedies, the festival showcases the work of women filmmakers in shorts, documentaries, and feature-length films, many of them UK premieres and several already highly acclaimed, including the Oscar-nominated Persepolis and the 2007 winner of the Cannes Grand Jury Prize, The Mourning Forest.
Although we’re excited about the excellent selection the festival has on offer, we remain suckers for the classics. If you’re unfamiliar with screwball comedy, AL Kennedy’s recent tribute to the genre will give you a nice preview. Expect dapper gents, glamorous ladies, and abundantly flowing champagne. No simple society soirée, it’s a battle of the sexes, a war of wits, ground gained or ceded via miscommunication and misinterpretation.
In other words, it’s just plain fun. Does it get any better than the trifecta of Hepburn, Grant, and Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story? Golly Moses. You’d have a hard time convincing us so.