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16 Ratings

On Approval

Directed by Clive Brook
United Kingdom, 1944


A witty, risque British comedy about the romantic escapades of a wealthy English heiress who swaps suitors with her friend after a trial marriage on a remote island. Director-star Brook adapted the script from the 1926 play by Frederick Lonsdale.

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On Approval Directed by Clive Brook
Lonsdale’s zingers are marvelously dry — “Richard has either enjoyed your joke immensely, or has eaten something indigestible” — and the cast spits them out with impeccable aplomb, relishing the cruelty while retaining a sense of underlying warmth. Watching them parry, it’s hard not to conclude that excess formality served comedy much better than the excess informality that defines the genre today. Who’ll have the courage to revive it?
July 24, 2014
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If the situations are stock and the outcomes predictable, the emotional colorings of the performances remain credible and complex. Ultimately not as affecting as Lonsdale’s screenplay for Korda’s wonderful THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN, ON APPROVAL is nevertheless an honest, thoughtful effort to grapple with many of the same ideas.
June 27, 2014
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Where the deft, zigzag-y editing during the party scene in act one showed the external pressures that the quartet must overcome in order to inveigle domestic bliss, these surreal moments represent the internal stress involved—stress that, presumably, would be eradicated by the sex Maria’s proposal has prudishly rendered verboten.
March 13, 2013
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