The More the Merrier
Retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) travels to Washington D.C. to consult with Senator Noonan (Clyde Fillmore) about the housing shortages caused by an influx of people in the capital during World War II. But he comes face-to-face with the reality of the no vacancies crisis when he arrives two days early for his appointment and is informed there is no room for him at the inn.
Without a place to stay until his reservation date, the capable older gentleman seeks shelter by answering an advertisement for a roommate situation. Eliminating any possible competition, he pushes his way into the apartment of Miss Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur), despite her objections over renting to the opposite gender.
To ease the awkwardness of the tenuous arrangement, Mr. Dingle puts on his best manners while listening to Miss Milligan's house rules. The precision of her morning schedule is enough to convince him that the up-tight woman needs a life and a high-type, clean-cut young man to share it with. Firmly believing "everybody's business is everybody's business," the down-to-business fellow adds matchmaker to his to-do list.
As luck would have it, he runs into just the right sort of eligible bachelor the very next morning. Because Joe Carter (Joel McCrea) is also looking for somewhere to stay, Mr. Dingle sublets the other half of the guest bedroom he is renting from Miss Milligan. Of course he neglects to mention the existence of Connie to Joe, or of Joe to Connie. With a twinkle in his eye, the conniving old busybody seems pretty confident that amidst the sure to ensue hi-jinx and hilarity, romance will bloom. However, a single woman living with two unmarried gents is fertile ground for rumors and scandal too.
While a grasp of these negative implications is essential to understanding the plot, the movie does not depict any sexual content more obvious than a few slightly immodest female costumes, a shot of a man's bare chest as he gets into the shower, and a passionate kiss. Also, in a reverse portrayal of the social norm, one scene shows a room full of women whistling at a handsome man. Other concerns include the repeated reciting of an expression containing a mild profanity, a lead character who smokes a pipe and the use of a racial slur typical to the time period in which this film was made.
Nominated in 1943 for six Academy Awards, Charles Coburn took home an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, thanks to his charming characterization of the film's cherubic-like cupid. Although the performances by Arthur and McCrea are sometimes a little melodramatic, when it comes to the slapstick humor, all I can say is -- The More the Merrier.