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Film / Love Before Breakfast

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The black eye was an accident, honest!
Love Before Breakfast (1936) is Romantic Comedy starring Carole Lombard, Preston Foster, and Cesar Romero. This film was directed by Walter Lang, and includes Preston Sturges as one of the uncredited writers.

Millionaire Scott Miller (Foster) wants to romance socialite Kay Colby (Lombard), so he sends her fiancé, Bill Wadsworth (Romero), to Japan and tries to weasel his way into a relationship.

Kay is not impressed by his entitlement, or the fact that he sent her philandering fiancé thousands of miles away. She calls Scott out for what he is: a “button pusher” who thinks he can get everything he wants by following her around and declaring his love for her wherever she goes. Of course, he doesn’t take her various nos for an answer.

Eventually, he gives up and tries to only make Kay jealous. It works, but Kay will never admit her growing love or give an inch to his demands.

Screwball hijinks ensue when Scott decides he won’t give an inch either.


Love Before Breakfast shows the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Kay sets Scott up with an irritating Southern Belle.
    • Scott is annoyingly earnest and won’t go away.
  • Abuse Mistake: Kay’s black eye; she got it from Scott by accident.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Yuki, Kay's maid. Kay imitates her at one point to get Scott off her back.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Only until the bitter end.
  • Beef Bandage: When Kay goes to the salon to fix up her eye, she’s given a beef treatment.
    Charles: First of all, we put on the cold towel. Some astringent maybe. Then some raw beef. Just a small piece.
    Kay: Put the whole cow on if it'll help any.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: This is Screwball Comedy fuel.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Kay imitates her Asian housekeeper’s accent to avoid having a telephone conversation with Scott.
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  • Can't Spit It Out: Kay eventually gets feelings for Scott, but she refuses to tell him or admit it to herself.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kay. Obviously, broken down by Scott, but she gives quite a fight.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Bill, but it isn’t like he’s a great fiancé, either. It’s implied that he cheats on Kay.
  • Enormous Engagement Ring: Scott has three! Three for Kay to wear whenever she gets bored of one.
  • Everyone Can See It: The chemistry between Scott and Kay.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: For a fancy-dress party, Kay puts on a ridiculous feather outfit that’s supposed to be a Shout-Out to a famous 20s socialite known for those outfits. Here’s a picture.
  • Golddigger: Kay finally gives in to Scott’s proposal, and she makes it clear that it’s for his money.
  • Idle Rich: Kay goes to parties, hair salons, and lives the idle lifestyle.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Scott’s main reason of attraction to Kay.
  • Hostile Weather: While on the puny sailboat, the weather turns against Kay and Bill.
  • Jerkass: Scott won’t take no for an answer.
  • Last Minute Hookup: At the very last moment, Kay and Scott finally tie the knot.
  • Love Martyr: Scott starts turning into one because of Kay’s strong refusals, and he agrees to be her fiance even when she makes it clear that she doesn’t love him. This doesn’t last too long; Scott realizes that he needs Kay to love him.
  • Nice Hat: The feathered one for the costume party stands out as crazy/glamourous.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Taken literally, no one has breakfast. Taken as innuendo, Scott and Kay spend most of the movie at each other's throats rather than... at each other.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: They’re beautiful and oh-so 1930s.
  • Pride: Kay won’t injure her pride for any man and almost drowns for it.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Both play this game with varying degrees of success.
  • Rejection Affection: Scott is the epitome of this trope.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Getting Kay’s date drunk and sending her fiancé over seas are all part of Scott’s plan to get closer to Kay.
  • Removing the Rival: Scott has a crush on Kay, and since he’s a billionaire, he buys the company where Bill works and transfers him to Japan just to be able to make his move with Kay.
  • Romantic False Lead: Bill and the Countessa for Kay and Scott, respectively.
  • Running Gag: Scott keeps calling Bill, George, much to Kay’s annoyance.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Kay wears a gorgeous black dress.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mrs. Colby (Kay’s mother) openly approves of Scott and Kay getting together and helps him find Kay by giving her whereabouts.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Played for Laughs: Since this is the 1930s, and a Screwball Comedy, Scott doesn’t get called out by his outrageous behaviour. Only Kay does this, but everybody else in the film thinks it’s the sign of an ardent man in love.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Kay gets a black eye from Scott; he picked a fight with some college guys and since the lights were turned off, he couldn't see who he was hitting.

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