Reading Gracie, George Burns's biography of/ode to his wife and comedy partner, you get the idea from him that all he had to do was stand back and adore her while she carried the whole act. As much as I love Gracie--and I do, I really, really do--I have to say that after watching some of their shorts together, Burns drastically short-changed himself. Very chivalrous of him, I guess, but unfair. There's something out there called "presence," and I must say he had it in abundance.
And, like I said, I think he was pretty hot way back when. Gruff, deep voice, snappy dresser...I dunno, he just works it for me circa late 1920s/early '30s.
Anyhow, George and Gracie remain one of my favorite screwball couples, up there alongside Nick and Nora.
Here's what might be their very first film short, a portion of their signature show on Vaudeville, Lambchops. Y'know, if you've got eight minutes and two seconds to spare:
Credit to teapotwashere
And hell, in case you have an additional 10:50 at your disposal, here's another personal favorite, The Babbling Book. Check out 3:24 in particular for what I mean about Burns's presence: even though his entrance is just the understated set-up for the punchline, he somehow owns the moment. Very suave, very cheeky.
Credit to rrgomes