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Film / It's Love I'm After

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It's Love I'm After (1937) is a little gem of a Screwball Comedy / Romantic Comedy starring Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Olivia de Havilland. It was directed by Archie Mayo and was based on the story by Maurice Handline, Gentlemen After Midnight.

A fawning fan, Marcia (DeHavilland), sets her eyes on Shakespearean actor, Basil Underwood (Howard), inducing him into in a series of disasters as he tries to keep various promises. First, to be faithful and marry his leading lady, Joyce (Davis), and second, to help Marcia’s fiancé, Henry (Patric Knowles), crush Marcia’s unstoppable infatuation by being a veritable cad. Of course, Basil can’t do this all alone, he needs his trusty valet, Digges (Erie Blore), to help him with this zany scheme.

This is the third pairing between Howard and Davis and a rare comedy for them both. Howard and DeHavilland would work together again two years later in Gone with the Wind, playing Ashley and Melanie Wilkes.

It's Love I'm After shows the following tropes:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Basil decides to put the moves on Marcia, feeling she would protect herself from his sexual advances, find him disgusting, and end her infatuation. So Basil sneaks into Marcia’s room, and he begins to “seduce” her. He’s frightened to find out that she has no qualms with having sex with him. Freaked out, Basil runs away, and Marcia says he was in the right to flee because she couldn’t control herself. But she knows she would’ve enjoyed it.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Basil and Joyce really do love each other even if they constantly fight one another.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Loads between Basil and Joyce.
  • Brainless Beauty: Marcia is completely devoid of any useful thought. Subverted as she finally figures things out and knows that she would forget Basil in two week's time.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Gracie, the little girl who loves peeping through keyholes.
    Gracie Kane: Oh, Mr. Actor Man! Where're you going?
    Basil: To someplace where there are no dear little children.
  • The Casanova: Basil just can’t help himself.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Although Basil and Joyce aren’t married, they are still a couple that go through various shenanigans that separate them and need to get back together.
  • Easily Forgiven: Marcia forgives and excuses every horrible thing Basil does to try and dissuade her from loving him.
  • Fangirl: Oh boy, when Marcia is in love, she goes crazy. Trope Maker?
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Lampshaded by Basil to Joyce when she finds out Marcia was in his dressing room.
    Basil: Darling, have you heard of the green-eyed monster?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Basil and Digges.
  • The Ingenue: Marcia is very innocent and sugary sweet to a disgusting extreme.
  • It's All About Me: Basil only helps Henry because he wants to restore himself in the eyes of Joyce and become a better man for rejecting Marcia’s advances.
  • The Jeeves: Digges does everything for Basil without question, but advises him not to follow Henry’s plan to stop Marcia’s obsession. Of course, Basil doesn’t listen.
  • Large Ham: In-Universe: Basil’s very unsubtle acting style.
  • Love at First Sight: Marcia to the unsuspecting Basil.
  • Love Epiphany: Near the end and after he thinks his chances with Joyce are ruined, Basil realizes that she’s the only woman for him.
  • Love Triangle: Marcia, Basil, and Joyce.
  • Mad Love: Marcia is absolutely nuts for Basil. He tries to push her away by being a horrible cad, but she only excuses his actions and thinks him even more irresistible.
  • Running Gag: Digges moving his toupee around.
    • Digges having to pack and unpack Basil’s suitcase.
  • Second-Face Smoke: Joyce blows smoke into Basil’s face to make him shut up.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Basil both with Joyce and Marcia.
    • Lampshaded by Basil:
    Basil: I say, Digges, you don't suppose I've aroused her [Marcia’s] slap-me-again-I-love-it complex?
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Basil to a T.
    Basil: After all, what am I? Just the greatest actor in the world.
  • Shout-Out:
    Marcia: You leave Henry out of this! If he'd had any sense he'd have realized I'd have forgotten all about you in two weeks. I was in love with Clark Gable last year, and if I can get over him, it's a cinch I can get over you.
    Basil: Who's Clark Gable?
    Marcia: [to Henry] He doesn't know who Clark Gable is.
    Henry: Hmmm. I do.
  • Show Within a Show: The film begins with Basil and Joyce doing Romeo and Juliet.
  • Squee: When Marcia gets the chance to meet her idol, Basil, she gets very fangirly.
  • World of Ham: How the theatre and its actors are portrayed.
  • Zany Scheme: Henry tells Basil that he must go to Marcia and be the most horrible, conceited man he can be to end her infatuation. Hilarity Ensues when Marcia finds everything that Basil does irresistible.