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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941 film)

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Mr & Mrs Smith is a 1941 American screwball comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by Norman Krasna, and starring Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery It also features Gene Raymond, Jack Carson, Philip Merivale, and Lucile Watson

While Hitchcock later claimed he directed the film—the only pure comedy he made in America—as a favor to Lombard, the files at RKO Radio Pictures show that Hitchcock himself pursued the project3

Contents

  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Production
  • 4 Reception
  • 5 Adaptations in other media
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Plotedit

Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard

Ann Carole Lombard and David Smith Robert Montgomery are a married couple living in New York City who, though happy, have fights that last for days before they reconcile

One morning, Ann asks David if he would marry her again if he had it to do over Although he says he is very happy with her now and wouldn't marry anyone else, he says he would not

Later that day, Harry Deever Charles Halton, an Idaho county official, informs David at work that due to a jurisdictional mishap, their three-year-old marriage license from Idaho is not valid Since Deever is a family acquaintance of Ann's from Idaho, he stops by their apartment to tell Ann and her mother Esther Dale the same thing Ann does not mention this to David She believes he will remarry her that very night when he invites her to a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant they frequented before they were married

When they arrive at the restaurant, it has declined in quality and become rundown, and they return home Ann grows impatient and confronts David, accusing him of not wanting to marry her again David protests and claims he was going to ask her shortly, but Ann dismisses him and kicks him out of their apartment

David spends the night at his club, but when he goes home after work the next day Ann's maid refuses him entry David waits in the lobby and sees Ann return with an older gentleman Believing the man is her suitor, David becomes angry and disheartened He follows Ann and threatens to withhold support He gets her fired from her new job the older gentleman is not her suitor, but her new boss Ann tells David she has no intention of ever marrying him again

David's friend and law partner, Jefferson "Jeff" Custer Gene Raymond, tells David he will talk to Ann and persuade her to remarry However, when David arrives that evening, he finds that Jeff has instead agreed to legally represent Ann Jeff asks Ann to dinner the following night in David's presence David tells Ann that if she agrees to the date their marriage is over, but Ann accepts the invitation

After dinner, Ann and Jeff go to the 1939 New York World's Fair, but they become stuck on the parachute ride and are exposed to hours of rain many feet up in the air When they get back to Jeff's apartment, he plans to put on dry clothes and return to the fair, but Ann feeds the teetotaler "medicinal" liquor ostensibly to prevent a cold, and he becomes drunk Ann returns home

Ann and Jeff begin to date seriously, and Ann meets Jeff's parents They decide to take a vacation with Jeff's parents at a Lake Placid skiing resort — the same resort where Ann and David had earlier been planning to holiday Upon arriving at the resort, they find that David has rented a cabin next to theirs When confronted, David faints David pretends to be sick and delirious while Ann fawns over him When Ann discovers his deception, she becomes furious While they argue heatedly, Jeff walks in He knows Ann and David are meant for each other when Ann tries to manipulate him into fighting David

Ann decides she wants to get away to the lodge by ski, even though she does not know how to ski David offers to help her put on her skis, but instead places her in a position that prevents her from standing up As she struggles and threatens him, she frees one foot, but then feigns helplessness by reattaching the ski David realizes her pretense, and silences her ranting by kissing her

Castedit

Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard
  • Carole Lombard as Ann Krausheimer Smith
  • Robert Montgomery as David Smith
  • Gene Raymond as Jefferson Custer
  • Jack Carson as Chuck Benson
  • Philip Merivale as Ashley Custer
  • Lucile Watson as Mrs Custer
  • William Tracy as Sammy
  • Charles Halton as Harry Deever
  • Esther Dale as Mrs Krausheimer
  • Emma Dunn as Martha
  • Betty Compson as Gertie
  • Patricia Farr as Gloria
  • William Edmunds as Proprietor at Lucy's
  • Adele Pearce as Lily

Alfred Hitchcock can be seen passing Montgomery in front of his apartment building, as the camera pulls back, at about 43 minutes into the film To the delight of the crew, Lombard herself directed Hitchcock in the brief scene, forcing him to redo his very simple part many times4

Productionedit

Norman Krasna came up with the basic idea of Mr & Mrs Smith under the original working titles of "Who Was That Lady I Seen You With" and "No for an Answer" and pitched it to Carole Lombard who was enthusiastic She sold the idea to George Schaefer of RKO who agreed to buy the project from Krasna, then Alfred Hitchcock became involved5 In the 1939 interview What I Do to the Stars, Hitchcock is about to leave England for Hollywood and says he would like to make a movie with Carole Lombard, casting her not in one of her superficial comedies, but in a serious role, because he believes she could be as good a serious actor as Paul Muni or Leslie Howard The result was Mr and Mrs Smith Hitchcock was never happy with the result and was later dismissive of the film4

Mr & Mrs Smith was Lombard's last film released before her death To Be or Not to Be 1942 was her final film, released two months after she died in an aircraft crash while on a War Bond tour

Receptionedit

Mr & Mrs Smith was a hit and made a profit of $750,0002 The review in The New York Times described the film thus: "Despite the performances, despite the endless camera magic with which Mr Hitchcock tries to conceal the thinness of his material, 'Mr and Mrs Smith' have their moments of dullness The result is a chucklesome comedy that fails to mount into a coruscating wave of laughter"6 Variety reviewers were more enthusiastic about the film, noting: "Alfred Hitchcock pilots the story in a straight farcical groove without resort to slapstick interludes or overplaying by the characters Pacing his assignment at a steady gait, Hitchcock catches all of the laugh values from the above par script of Norman Krasna"7

Adaptations in other mediaedit

Lux Radio Theatre adapted Mr & Mrs Smith to radio on June 9, 1941 with Carole Lombard and Bob Hope The Screen Guild Theater next adapted it on February 8, 1942 with Errol Flynn and Lana Turner, again on December 14, 1942 with Joan Bennett, Robert Young, and Ralph Bellamy, and once more on January 1, 1945 with Preston Foster, Louise Albritton, and Stuart Erwin On January 30, 1949, it was adapted to Screen Director's Playhouse with Robert Montgomery, Mary Jane Croft, and Carlton Young

Referencesedit

  1. ^ "MR & MRS SMITH A" British Board of Film Classification February 24, 1941 Retrieved June 23, 2015 
  2. ^ a b c Jewel, Richard "RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951" Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14, No 1, 1994 p 56
  3. ^ Spoto 1999, p 237
  4. ^ a b Steinberg, Jay S "Articles: Mr and Mrs Smith" Turner Classic Movies Retrieved: September 29, 2013
  5. ^ McGilligan 1986, p 219
  6. ^ TS "Mr and Mrs Smith 1941; At the Music Hall" The New York Times, February 21, 1941
  7. ^ "Review: "Mr & Mrs Smith" Variety, December 31, 1940
Bibliography
  • McGilligan, Patrick "Norman Krasna: The Woolworth's Touch" Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1986 ISBN 978-0-52005-689-3
  • Spoto, Donald The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock New York: Da Capo, 1999 ISBN 0-306-80932-X

External linksedit

  • Mr & Mrs Smith on Internet Movie Database
  • Mr and Mrs Smith at the TCM Movie Database

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941 film)


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