|Directed by||Alfred Hitchcock|
|Cinematography||Harry Stradling Sr.|
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 involved. 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 film.
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.
It’s unfair to look over this film because it is not a true Hitchcock film. It’s still a great film, and a great screwball comedy. It is very funny and contains at least two of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen, the one where Robert Montgomery plans to have premarital sex with Lombard, thinking she doesn’t know that they aren’t married, and the restaurant scene, where Montgomery pretends to talk to a really pretty girl who’s sitting next to him. You can just barely see Hitchcock in this film – there are a few marvelous camera movements and angles that seem like Hitchcock was sighing, saying, “God, I’m bored!” The two leads, Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery, are wonderful. Everyone else, Gene Raymond as Jeff and Jack Carson as Chuck (he’s especially hilarious; I wish he had had even more scenes!), and everyone else, too, is constantly hitting bullseyes.
Unfortunately, in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the film, it begins to fall apart, after the plot moves to Lake Placid. First off, it’s begins to grow tiresome. Lombard is starting to come off as unnecessarily cruel. The faux drunken mumblings of Montgomery aren’t as funny as they’re supposed to be. Jeff’s parents are getting in the way. At least the final scene makes up for some of that! 8/10.
I do, I do
Author: jotix100 from New York
11 June 2005
This film has nothing to do with the current film of the same title. Thank goodness for that! “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a rarity in that it was directed by that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The film pays in ways that only a crafty Hitchcock would know how. The director takes Norman Krasna’s screen play and gives it an elegant treatment.
The idea of a technicality annulling a marriage is at the center of the story. When David Smith is told about it, he sees the possibility of not telling his wife. Ann and David have a strange marriage life. They love each other dearly and they seem to work at maintaining their union as a fun enterprise where they are playful and do unexpected things to please one another. David miscalculates Ann’s reaction to his playing a joke and not telling her about their new status.
The revelation at the beginning of the film is made known to Ann, who goes along with the joke expecting to be asked that same day to run to a justice of the peace to get married again. When David doesn’t act on what for Ann seems to be essential, she flies into a rage and vows to get even with David. This is the basic premise of the comedy. Things get complicated, but we know all will be right at the end as Ann will come to her senses. David also is expected to legalize their status.
The film is a joy to watch because of the two stars. Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery were two charismatic performers that had an uncanny sense of timing. They make a delicious couple that deserve to be happy, even at the expense of making each other crazy in the process. Just to see a playful Carole Lombard giving a razor shave to Robert Montgomery is well worth the prize of admission!
The rest of the cast is outstanding. Gene Raymond plays David’s partner, Jefferson Custer, an upright man who admires Ann from a distance. Their scene when they get stuck in the rain at Coney Island’s parachute, has to be one of the highlights of the movie. That whole sequence after they return to Jeff’s apartment and he gets the “liquor” medicine from Ann is hilarious.
There is a cameo from the director that passes by too quickly and if the viewer is not paying attention, it will be missed. Jack Carson is excellent as the bad influence for David. Philip Mervale and Lucile Watson are seen as Jeff’s parents.
This film proves Alfred Hitchcock could have tried his hand at more comedies because he seems to be a natural to the genre. Of course, any director was going to excel with Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery playing the lead roles of any movie!