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Turnabout (1940)

Isn't Romantic Comedy redundant?

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Fossy
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Turnabout (1940)

Postby Fossy » January 9th, 2013, 6:45 am

Turnabout (1940)

Phil Manning (Adolphe Menjou)
Marion (Mary Astor) his wife
Tim Willows (John Hubbard)
Sally (Carole Landis) His wife
Joel Clare (William Gargan)
Irene (Joyce Compton) His Wife
Joel was a bootlegger during prohibition and has made a fortune using his bathtub. What to do with his fortune? He financed an advertising firm and came in as a partner. He spent most of the show causing mini disasters in the office.
Phil was supposedly sick. His secretary did a body search each day to make sure there was no liquor on him. The office messenger would leave strategically placed paper for Phil to drink during the day.
Tim and Sally argued incessantly. Sally decided that they should change places and Tim agreed. On a shelf in their bedroom was a mystical statue from India called Mr Ram. On hearing Tim and Sally agree he came to life and granted the wish. Then the fun started. The doctor came and told Tim (now Sally) that she was having a baby.
They agreed to ask Mr Ram to change them back, which he did, so everyone was happy. But Mr Ram had made a mistake, and Tim was having the baby.

And I thought Arnold Schwartzenegger was the first.

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JackFavell
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby JackFavell » January 9th, 2013, 7:15 am

Ha! That sounds like quite the forerunner film. I guess we should have known that the idea came from classic film. The cast is to die for.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby Rita Hayworth » January 9th, 2013, 7:49 am

I'm going to check this movie out one of these days ... Sounds like a good film according to Fossy.

feaito

Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby feaito » January 9th, 2013, 3:31 pm

It's an excellent comedy. I watched it due to some heartily recommendations in these forums, where it was discussed profusely on some thread years ago.

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intothenitrate
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby intothenitrate » March 5th, 2013, 11:20 am

I watched this film over the weekend with my boys (12 & 14). It's a "novelty film," produced by the Hal Roach studios. In addition to the principals Fossy lists above, it has an excellent supporting cast that includes Veree Teasdale, Donald Meek, Marjorie Main, and Franklin Pangborn.

The "gag" is that a bickering couple (John Hubbard & Carole Landis) change bodies through the mystical agency of a bronze bust which the husband has collected in India.

Whenever my boys consent to watching one of my old films, the standing rule is that we give it twenty minutes, and then decide whether we will keep watching, or switch to something else. In this case, it took about 25-30 minutes for the "trick" to kick in. To Roach's credit, they were hooked.

What's hilarious about the treatment is that they dubbed Landis' voice over Hubbard's acting and vice versa...and did so quite meticulously. There's never a moment when the effect is ruined by a poor lip-synch. And the slightly long-ish first reel pays off again and again, having set up situations that are completely delightful and funny.

Some comments from the up-and-coming generation:
>> "These women have fur attached to everything."
>> "They can't show a couple in a single bed, but they can get away with racial stereotypes." (Actually, they weren't that bad.)
>> (Of Hubbard's take on a woman's mannerisms) "He's way too into this."

It's interesting that they weren't at all offended by the entrenched, sexist universe of a 1940 comedy, where the women absorb themselves with trifles, while the he-men turn the wheels of industry. But then, Hey, we're guys.
"Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."
Goodnight Basington

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JackFavell
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby JackFavell » March 5th, 2013, 2:29 pm

That's too funny, Intothenitrate! I can see how the general sexism would get a pass, but the racial stereotypes and one foot on the floor bedside manners would be spotted right away. Interesting how some things change and some things don't.

I love that your kids took that much time to get into the movie....most would not give it the 20 minutes you require, much less any more time. They must be slowly building up stamina and endurance. :D It's sneaky, but the more they watch, the better attention span they will have, since nowadays you have to practically throw bombs at the screen and edit very quickly to get kids attention.

My daughter Alice is getting far better at sticking with films as well, which as you say, leads to some great payoffs by the end of the film. You are doing a great job getting your kids interested in film, and they WILL remember good times they had with you watching classic films, which will make them want to go back and watch more. Alice turned twelve this November and has suddenly become addicted to Singing in the Rain, which she has seen off and on for years and now she sees it as almost a nostalgia trip. It is the gateway drug of classic films, I swear. It's irresistible for kids who like music or comedy or dancing or bright colors. Suddenly she's watching other things now too, she burst into tears the other day at the end of THE APARTMENT when she thought Jack Lemmon had killed himself, she had come in partway through and became enthralled with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Alice also put on Laurel and Hardy videos for the last two days after school. I bet if she watched Turnabout, she'd like it. sigh. I'm so proud. And you should be too.

The way you've described Turnabout, it reminds me of The Invisible Woman, a pretty good comedy with a 'trick' that's been dumped on because it is pure entertainment and unpretentious. Maybe Turnabout is a couple of notches higher than The Invisible Woman, but these kinds of films always get lost in the shuffle because people are more likely to discuss deeper movies. Others I've discovered I like very much that no one ever seems to have talked about (except here) are The Crystal Ball and some of the Betty Grable/Don Ameche movies, which I love. Carole Landis and Joyce Compton are favorites of mine. And what a supporting cast!

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CineMaven
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby CineMaven » March 5th, 2013, 5:39 pm

I'm so pleased that Alice is sort of inching her way to classic films, Wendy. That's great news!!! Slow and steady wins the race. But don't forget...boys are just around the corner. 0y vey!

INTOTHENITRATE wrote:>> "They can't show a couple in a single bed, but they can get away with racial stereotypes." (Actually, they weren't that bad.)


I just saw a little of the Johnny Sheffield dog movie "Little ORville" ( or something like that. ) The ( Black ) maid brought to her home a gigantic Great Dane who accosted her husband who was leaning back in a chair, hair unkempt, eyes bugged out...playing a BANJO. 1940. I was literally in shock saying aloud "J---- C-----! Holy Sh-t!" :shock: :shock: I was in total shock. I saw a few more moments with the cute Sheffield and Sharon Moffett ( who was wonderful in "Pride Of the Marines" ) and then I had to turn the channel. I'd rather even not see any minorities rather than what I saw this morning. A freakin' BANJO???

But glad that both of you are easing your children into classic films. I love 'em ( banjoes notwithstanding! )
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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intothenitrate
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby intothenitrate » March 6th, 2013, 9:07 am

Thanks for telling me about Alice, JF. She sounds like a sweet child. My kids aren't at the point where they would go to my library and pick out something for themselves. Then again, it might be a question of knowing what's out there in the classic film universe to choose from. I think they're beginning to appreciate the fact that a lot of today's output is derived from older sources, which in turn is derived from still older sources. I use the phrase with a little tongue in cheek, but these films are part of their entertainment heritage.

Just this last weekend, my 14-year-old Henry told me that in his social studies class, students had to choose a figure from the forties and do a report on them. He chose ( a little naively) Charlie Chaplin -- perhaps not realizing that the decade wasn't exactly a string of halcyon days for the filmmaker. We had watched the first part of The Great Dictator (1940) together, which on first viewing, didn't pass the twenty minute test. I sent him back to his mom's with that film, the TCM documentary "Life and Art of..." and Monsieur Verdoux. It will be interesting to see what he makes of the story.
"Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day."
Goodnight Basington

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JackFavell
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby JackFavell » March 6th, 2013, 10:11 am

That's interesting! Chaplin in the forties is at least interesting, if it's not the best part of his career. He'll be learning history and at the same time dealing with a movie icon. I just watched Verdoux myself and enjoyed it very much. I like that he took that risk...though the more appealing film is The Great Dictator. And the bigger risk too. Chaplin seems to have been able to take risks all his life and this is one of the greatest things a filmmaker can do. I hope he makes it through them, I bet he will since he has to report on it. And that's all for the best!

Alice told me yesterday in no uncertain terms that Singing in the Rain was her FAVORITE movie EVER. Of all TIME. Hallelujah! Let there be dancing in the streets!

A BANJO????? I missed that movie, thank goodness. I'm really astonished. Some movies seem to start out all stereotypical - I'm thinking some of Ford's early Will Rogers films, or his Prisoner of Shark Island; or Vincente Minelli's Cabin in the Sky. But then they subvert the dominant paradigm and actually make serious main characters out of those stereotypes, with real feelings and inter-relationships. So in those cases, it doesn't hurt as much. Then there are the other films, the ones where it's just really a slap in the face. ugh. I don't know if I could have stood it. No wonder Little Orville isn 't known today.

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Robert Regan
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby Robert Regan » March 6th, 2013, 11:10 am

I have to say that I was disappointed in Turnabout when I finally caught up with it a few years ago, in spite of the fine cast. Thorne Smith's novel wasn't really any better. Some years before I spent a lot of time on a story about a gender-switching couple, but I couldn't get it to work. A variation that I liked is Blake Edwards' Switch with Ellen Barkin at her best playing a reincarnated man. Another variation is What Women Want, both the original with Mel Gibson at his best, and the Chinese remake with Gong Li having a goods time for a change.

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JackFavell
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby JackFavell » March 6th, 2013, 1:33 pm

Also in that category is Goodbye Charlie with Debbie Reynolds though I haven't seen it in years, All of Me with Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin and of course there's Shakespeare...

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Robert Regan
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby Robert Regan » March 6th, 2013, 10:57 pm

Right, Wendy! I too haven't seen Goodbye Charlie in years, but All of Me is a real gem! I think Carl Reiner is one of the most underrated directors ever. Many laughs without putting anyone down. About gender in Shakespeare, one of my fondest memories is of As You Like It in NY's Central Park with the marvelous Paula Prentiss as Rosalind. Not only was she superb throughout, but she read the epilogue that I had never heard on the stage before or since. This gave the screw another turn, as it were, with the line "If I were really a woman" telling us that she was a woman playing a man playing a woman playing a man. Even Julie Andrews couldn't top that!

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JackFavell
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby JackFavell » March 7th, 2013, 7:00 am

I adore Paula Prentiss, so you are positively making my mouth water describing that production! I can hear her beautiful voice right now in my mind's ear.

Oh golly, sometimes I wish I could go back in time to see some of the stage productions of fame - If I could, I'd go back and see Barrymore's Hamlet, Ralph Richardson's Falstaff, Lunt, Fontanne and Coward in Design for Living, Boy Meets Girl witb Jerome Cowan and Allyn Joslyn, Tallulah Bankhead in Skin of Our Teeth, and Meryl Streep and Raoul Julia in Taming of the Shrew (in the park); not to mention the little plays with favorite actors and actresses that probably never would get mentioned.

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ChiO
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby ChiO » March 7th, 2013, 9:50 am

JF wrote:
I just watched Verdoux myself and enjoyed it very much. I like that he took that risk...though the more appealing film is The Great Dictator. And the bigger risk too.

Do you think THE GREAT DICTATOR was the bigger risk? It was risky, but it had many aspects of The Tramp, which undoubtedly provided some comfort to audiences. MONSIEUR VERDOUX, on the other hand, presents our beloved Tramp as not only a non-Tramp, but a serial murderer in the blackest of comedies. As for the political polemic at the end of THE GREAT DICTATOR, either one would buy it or not, but in MONSIEUR VERDOUX he challenges everyone to the very core -- not just politically, but the moral philosophy of the World as he saw it.

For me, MONSIEUR VERDOUX is Chaplin's greatest masterpiece in a career with more than most.

Tangentially, the assistant director of LIMELIGHT, a Mr. Robert Aldrich, said in an unpublished interview that Chaplin was "a great artist but a terrible director. He couldn't communicate ideas to a performer; he could only show them how he would do it." But he also said that Chaplin was "an enormous contributor to the film as art and as business" and he taught Aldrich "the impossibility of defeat. No matter what happens, he had enough energy and enthusiasm and confidence to overcome any disaster." That later reflection would appear to apply to Chaplin both as a person and his film persona.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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CineMaven
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Re: Turnabout (1940)

Postby CineMaven » March 7th, 2013, 11:36 am

I remember being quite surprised and enjoying "Turnabout" and being somewhat shocked at seeing Mary Astor in this litlle "B" comedy. It's just that I knew the fame and fortune that was to come her way, so seeing her in this was kind of surprising.

* * * * *

As for "Little Orville" it was 1940 which I thought was kinda late for bug-eyed, banjo-playing....uhmmmm..."types." Oy vey!!! Never too late, I s'pose. :roll:

* * * * *

ROBERT REGAN wrote:"If I were really a woman" telling us that she was a woman playing a man playing a woman playing a man. Even Julie Andrews couldn't top that!


Whew! What a mouthful of a concept. I love it.

Paula Prentiss? (( Sigh! )) Big fan of hers! I actually followed her and Dick Benjamin down the street and into a West side movie theatre in the 70's. I don't recall the theatre or the film I saw, but I sat two rows behind them. They are very tall. My stalker days are behind me now that I'm a Senior Citizen. ( 'Cept for Rachel Maddowwwwwww... )

I wish that I was more pro-active back in the day, and made the effort to go see Joe Papp's Shakespeare in Central Park. Raul Julia!!! :oops: STILL a great loss to my heart that even Benicio delToro doesn't assuage.

" 'SINGING IN THE RAIN' BEST MOVIE EVER!!!" Well go ahead kid, with your baaaad self. Go Alice!! She should make a three - minute video for teenagers, recommending classic films she likes. Shoot it in the backyard with Lily jumping up and down and all around. Kids don't listen to grown-ups ( luckily I'm not one ); kids listen to other kids.

...But instead of a twenty-minute time window, in all fairness to the film, there should be a forty-minute threshold before the DVD is gang-yaaaaaaanked out the player.

:)
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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