Genre Grandeur September Finale – The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Movie Movie Blog Blog

For this month’s final review for Genre Grandeur – Screwball Comedy Films, here’s a review of The Palm Beach Story (1942) by Steve of The Movie Movie Blog Blog

In case you missed any of the reviews, here’s a recap

  1. What’s Up Doc? (1972) – Michael
  2. Bringing Up Baby (1938) – Vern
  3. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – Quiggy
  4. Top Ten Screwball ComediesSamantha
  5. His Girl Friday (1940) – Vern
  6. You Can’t Take it With You (1938) – Rob
  7. The Palm Beach Story (1942) – Steve

In addition, I watched and reviewed 3 movies for my companion series Genre Guesstimation.  One of them will now be considered among my favorites of the genre.

  1. Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
  2. *It Happened One Night (1934)
  3. The Palm Beach Story (1942)

Thanks again to Steve of The Movie Movie Blog Blog for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Darren of Movie Reviews 101 and it is Zombie Films

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Oct by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Darren!

Let’s see what Steve thought of this movie:


Writer-director Preston Sturges (center) and cast.

Writer-director Preston Sturges (center) and cast.

The Palm Beach Story posits that people are so unused to good fortune that when it’s dropped right into their laps, they have no idea what to do with it. And those people include the movie’s audience.


The movie begins with a whirlwind sequence of exposition (set to a cockeyed version of “The William Tell Overture”) which seems to explain absolutely nothing. It’s writer-director Preston Sturges’ nose-thumbing at movies which have nothing but exposition. He seems to be saying, “Must we explain everything from the get-go? Have some patience on this trip, and I’ll get you there.”

Soon enough, we meet Tom (Joel McCrea), a frustrated construction designer, and Gerry (Claudette Colbert), his equally frustrated wife. They live in a posh apartment but are constantly dodging bill collectors, until Gerry’s chance run-in with a meat mogul known as “The Weenie King.” (You think that’s flouting the censors? Wait until you see Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek [1944].)

Gerry tells The Weenie King of her financial plight, and he gives her a wad of money to help her, just because she’s so darned cute. (Once you see Claudette Colbert, this will seem a little more plausible.)

It’s never shown whether Gerry proves this to herself or not. But along the way, she meets some memorable characters: the members of The Ale and Quail Club (headed by Sturges veteran William Demarest); an oft-married millionairess (delightful Mary Astor) and her foreign-speaking boyfriend of the moment; and a soft-spoken yachtsman (Rudy Vallee), who patiently endures Gerry’s systematic breaking of his every pair of pince-nez’s. All of these people love to talk, and Sturges obliges them with enough epigrams for a swank New Year’s bash.


And for those who think Sturges couldn’t direct as well as he wrote, I recommend the scene where a tipsy Tom and Gerry discuss their impending divorce. The scene begins with Tom trying to unzip the back of Gerry’s dress for her, and it ends as one of the swooniest love scenes it has ever been my pleasure to witness. (I’ve written a completely separate blog entry devoted to this kissing scene alone — read it here.)

And just when you think the movie has run out of steam, Sturges pulls a happy ending out of his hat that has you laughing through the closing credits. Smart and smarter — now, there’s a trend Hollywood should have pursued.

(If you too love this movie and are a member of Facebook, please click here to join my Facebook page devoted to this glorious movie.)

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