Remember that Pauline Kael line that went something like “this is the kind of bad film that only a gifted director could make”? She was alluding to a strange capability among pantheon directors, which is the ability to make the occcasional stinker despite the odds favoring success.

Take, for example, Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (’52) — a screwball comedy that leans way too far into silliness and absurdity and for the most part isn’t funny. Hawks got the mescaline comic chemistry right in Bringing Up Baby and Ball of Fire but somehow completely botched it here.

The basic unfunny idea is that an adult suddenly behaving like an adolescent is an embarrassment all around, and that “youth” is over-rated and that we’d all be better off being older and more settled and singing “we’re poor little lambs who’ve lost our way…baah-baah-baah.”

It’s about an accidentally concocted youth serum that turns everyone into an obstinate, obnoxious seven year old with no social disciplines.

Cary Grant’s seven-year-old personality is one thing, but early on he also acts like an 18 year-old who’s suddenly interested in Marilyn Monroe. It has something to do with the strength of dosage. In some cases (like Charles Coburn’s) the youth potion makes the recipient sexually frisky, or (in the case of Ginger Rogers) sexually competitve and jealous.

You know what might’ve helped? Shooting the damn thing in color. A color palette might have conveyed a certain spiritual uplift, a certain buoyancy.

Please name a few films that shouldn’t have failed given the pedigree of the talent (directors, writers, cast) but insisted on doing so regardless.