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ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May$
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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Dean Brandum

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440189

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440189.001.0001

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Kneeling on Glass—Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971) as Screwball Black Comedy

Kneeling on Glass—Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971) as Screwball Black Comedy

(p.85) Chapter 4 Kneeling on Glass—Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971) as Screwball Black Comedy
ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May

Samm Deighan

Edinburgh University Press

Elaine May’s 1971 directorial debut, A New Leaf was a watershed moment within May’s career, but as a film important to the contemporary development of American comedy cinema. This chapter will examine A New Leaf as part of a greater comedic tradition, particularly in terms of pre-code and 1930s/1940s screwball comedy, later black comedies, and romantic comedies about unlikely couplings between unsympathetic protagonists, forging a connection between the theme of romance, finance, and mortality. This chapter argue that A New Leaf represents an important development in this subgenre, and examines A New Leaf in connection to the relatively unsentimental romantic comedies of the ‘60s and ‘70s concerned with unlikely couplings that concern an unlikely romance that develops as the result of a search for fortune.

Keywords:   Elaine May, Women’s Filmmaking, Women Directors, A New Leaf (film), Comedy, Screwball comedy, Black comedy, Romantic comedy

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