USA 1937 | Director: Mitchell Leisen | Script: Preston Sturges | Cast: Ray Milland, Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold | Production: Paramount | b/w | 35mm | 88 min | amer. OV
The plot for Easy Living draws on the real Waldorf Towers, which were built during the Depression and went on to become a financial catastrophe. As the hotel owner says in Sturge’s film, how can such a phenomenon be a flop? From below, we see its immense, honeycomb-like façade, tapering off into the sky.
The film begins with an internal downward motion. The big financier J.B. Ball, the Bull of Broad Street, falls down the elegant stairwell of his New York City penthouse. A short time later, a moving shot outside follows a mink coat that he hurls from the roof of the building in a fit of rage. Following which his wife heads off to Florida – probably to the Biltmore in Miami or the Don Cesar. In the interests of simplicity – and of the dramaturgy of the film – he moves into the empty Waldorf Louis, unintentionally promoting it in the process. It provides the appropriate framework for the evidently unpredictable ups and downs of the market, and of the emotions. (Frieda Grafe, “Film-Historical Hotel Guide”, 1990)