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Snowed Under (1936), barely an hour in length, is a farcical comedy from Warner Brothers that unites several of the studio's contract stars to pleasing results. George Brent stars as a playwright who retreats to a snowbound country house to try to finish the third act of his play. His producer is so worried Brent won't finish in time that he enlists Brent's first wife (Genevieve Tobin) to go to the house and prod him along. Soon Brent's second wife (Glenda Farrell) also shows up with a lawyer and a sheriff, demanding alimony. And meanwhile, Brent's current, much-younger fiancée (Patricia Ellis) is on hand as well, prompting a chorus of people to pick on Brent -- and each other -- and prevent Brent from getting any work done.
The Hollywood trade papers loved Snowed Under, with Variety deeming it "a nice comedy entry for the spring." (Amusingly, Variety described the plot as the "old theme of author who is harassed by his wife.") "Director Ray Enright milks every situation for laugh returns without deviating from farce implications of plot... Tobin and Farrell click solidly. Work of this pair rates principal laurels... [Patricia Ellis] does one of her best all-round performances [and Frank McHugh is] topnotch as e-milkman turned deputy."
The Hollywood Reporter called the film "madly hilarious... One [girl] wants to help him, one wants to jail him for back alimony, one wants to marry him... There are so many delightful moments in this show, it is difficult to list the high points."
On the other hand, The New York Times dismissed the picture as a "loud, witless and tiresome farce... They battle and shout through the snowbound lodge and amid the palpably artificial snowdrifts."
As this was a typical Warner Brothers studio programmer, the members of the cast had already appeared together in other films. George Brent and Genevieve Tobin, for instance, had worked together on The Goose and the Gander (1935); Brent and Glenda Farrell on The Keyhole (1933); Brent and Patricia Ellis on 42nd Street (1933) and Stranded (1935); and Farrell and Tobin on Dark Hazard (1934).
Two years after the release of Snowed Under, Genevieve Tobin married Warner Brothers contract director William Keighley. She'd been directed by him in Easy to Love (1934) and would work with him again on Yes, My Darling Daughter (1939) and No Time for Comedy (1940) -- her final film. She retired from the screen at age 41, stayed married to Keighley until his death in 1984, and lived herself until 1995.
Fan favorite Patricia Ellis also retired soon after this film, even though she appeared in seven movies in 1936 and was at her peak. Perhaps that was the problem -- most of her films were minor features and she never broke into the A list. Among the films she did appear in, through a career of over forty films through the 1930s, were Picture Snatcher (1933), the notorious, and now-lost, Convention City (1933), The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935), and Block-Heads (1938).
By Jeremy Arnold