Fig Leaves (Howard Hawks / U.S., 1926):

"The quaint old sport of matrimony," indeed as old as the Garden itself, the redoubtable Howard Hawks deadpan is already there to analyze it. A bowling ball-sized coconut to the kisser rouses the snoozing Adam (George O’Brien), Eve (Olive Borden) briefly contemplates the eponymous accessories before settling on a leopard pelt. (McCay’s brontosaurus, or perhaps Lang’s dragon, mischievously munches on trees outside their window.) The Serpent has bee-stung lips and a wagging forked tongue, a dissolve to the present reveals her as the keen flapper (Phyllis Haver) across the hall. Stone Age, Jazz Age, "what’s a few million years between friends?" Adam the New York plumber, a befuddled lunk discussing the opposite sex with his muggy colleague (Heinie Conklin), which means taking turns mimicking girlish gaits and chocking each other. Meanwhile, Eve is bumped by a limo, doused on the street, and lavishly adorned in the salon—the fluttery aesthete (George Beranger) is her suitor, less poisonous snake than perfumed worm. "My wife hasn’t spoken to me for a week." "Congratulations!" In his earliest comedy, Hawks coolly dissects the married state, dabbles in surrealism (a ticket transforms a fur coat into a saxophone), invents The Flintstones and I Love Lucy, makes room for a Technicolor boutique display, and lays the foundation for the phenomenally tangled masculine-feminine lines of Bringing Up Baby, I Was a Male War Bride and Man’s Favorite Sport? Back to Eden for the dénouement, "Cain and Abel are having a slaying party tonight." In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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