With the over-crowding in Washington D.C., Connie (Jean Arthur) decides to rent out one of her spare rooms in her apartment. Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn), a well to-do millionaire can’t find a room anywhere, so he pushes to the front of the line for Connie’s apartment and convinces her to let him stay. He sees that she’s lonely and in need of a good, clean-cut young man, but she brushes his ideas off. Mr. Dingle conforms to her hilariously elaborate morning schedule and meets Joe Carter (Joel McCrea), a good, clean-cut young man looking for a room. Mr. Dingle takes the liberty of offering him half of his room, with the idea of playing match maker for Connie, only to find out she already has a suitor.
From the very beginning, this film does comedy well. The narrator speaks of pleasant, leisurely living while images of people rushing around and being stuffed into taxis are shown. It goes on describing how hospitable and welcoming Washington is, “eagerly throwing wide her doors” only to show numerous No Vacancy signs and Mr. Dingle unable to find an apartment.
The real comedy, and best scene in my opinion, is Mr. Dingle’s first morning with Connie. They’re up, precisely at seven, and Mr. Dingle is running around with an alarm clock in one hand and Connie’s schedule in the other. He gets locked out in his pajamas, accidently takes the coffee into the bathroom and can’t find his pants after he makes the bed. He later calls the morning schedule, “the steeplechase in the morning.” The level of slapstick comedy rivals The Three Stooges at times and left me rolling on the floor.
Sadly, the rest of the film just isn’t that enjoyable. There are a few fun moments, like Mr. Dingle trying to hide Joe from Connie and a bar scene where we see how the statistic of eight girls to one guy can make a pack of women seem like hungry lions in heels. Throughout the film, the fun helium balloon starts to loose pressure and sag to the ground where we know the charming boy will get the girl and Mr. Dingle was right all along.
Though Jean Arthur was nominated for best actress, it was only Charles Coburn who brought home an Oscar. His role as Mr. Dingle is just wonderful. He’s a heartfelt, romantic match maker and lives by the motto he constantly shouts: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Best of all, he’s capable of pulling off a high level of physical comedy while keeping his character’s high class dignity and intelligence. Even when he’s caught his suspenders on a door knob and flings his pants out the window, we don’t think he’s a dope, just in too much of a hurry.
“I tell you what. We’ll try it out for a week. End of the week comes, if you’re not happy, we’ll flip a coin to see who moves out.”