Jerry (Cary Grant) is trying to get tanned because he lied to his wife he'd travel to the South for two weeks. When he gets home he finds his wife away just to see her arrive in the company of another man, with whom she spent the night in a motel after their car broke down. Both shaken in confidence, half-jokingly, half sulkily they decide to divorce. Their dog (Skippy) is given to the wife, Lucy with the right for Jerry to visit him once a week. As soon as the first time of the visit, Jerry sees Lucy being courted by the rich hillbilly Dan (Ralph Bellamy). As a revenge, Jerry starts dating a bar singer. Of course, all of them has to happen to meet at same bar...
This is a comedy, do not look for a deep message hidden within; being a screwball comedy, we can see a love story with a quarreling couple, who go too far while trying to get rid of each other (who couldn't relate to this, when one's married...?) - but then they realise they still love each other and get reunited.
Being a 1937 screwball comedy, the jokes are based on situational comedy (i. e. hiding behind a door, unexpected people showing up), misunderstandings (i. e. when Lucy acts as Jerry's sister) and the fast, funny dialogues. Luckily, these dialogues do not sound artificial but fittingly to a married couple, they are lifelike, mocking pickings at each other. This latter quality distinguishes this movie from the rest for me: the divorcing couple hurt each other with joy not only via words but also via taking every opportunity to make the other's life unpleasant. There are gags running through the whole story, which first appear at the beginning and then re-occur at the end - this makes them funnier than they actually are. Only a few jokes come from the characters' character. One of these is the clumsiness of Jerry, the other is Dan's countryside naivety, what is in strong contrast to the others' more elaborate behavior.
Fortunately, there are only a few stumble-and-fall gags, but unfortunately, I noticed no visual jokes. It is said that McCarey, the director of this film, instructed and expected the actors to improvise, what Cary Grant hated because he felt insecure. Ironically, this insecurity of his character created the typical Cary Grant character which brought him success. Just like in case of Bringing Up Baby, I remarked nothing unusual or spectacular in terms of lightning, editing or camera movements, angles and compositions, therefore the most spectacular element of the film was again a trained animal, namely Skippy the dog. (Nonetheless, camera set ups and good timing in cuts are perfect, it's just that they are nothing unique to me which would make me remember this movie).
You can tell the importance of good timing by comparing the beginning and the end of the movie: the first punch lines were somehow not effective to me, but as the movie continued, it got more and more fun. The lightness of the story is somewhat deepened by the fact that we can see a couple with history, what makes us project more complicated emotions into the characters, which is why their reconciliation is more touching, lifelike and creditable.
- Actors we saw before: Cary Grant (Bringing Up Baby, Philadelphia Story, North By Northwest), Ralph Bellamy (Rosemary's Baby), Joyce Compton (The Best Years Of Our Lives), Robert Warwick (The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Lady Eve), Skippy dog (Bringing Up Baby)
- Ths film has won the Academy Award for best director, which is quite unusual for a comedy,
- The story is based on a popular play. Three other films were made of it, including a silent movie and a musical.