First Monday in October | Chicago Reader

First Monday in October

It's not very good, but I'm so fond of the genre—classical character comedy—that it gave me a reasonably good time: there's something in the symmetry of the plotting, the understated elegance of director Ronald Neame's wide-screen compositions, and the assured, professional performances of Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh as battling Supreme Court justices that I found very strong and clean; it gave me a touch of the comfort that reading Jane Austen does. But the screenplay, from those veterans of the 50s “theater of ideas,” Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (Inherit the Wind), is truly a shambles, celebrating argument for argument's sake while carefully avoiding any conclusions that might offend the audience. The film has been compared to the Tracy and Hepburn vehicles, but its true forebear is George Stevens's socially conscious screwball comedy, Talk of the Town.

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