Ann and David Get Hitched As They're Getting Unhitched!
Alfred Hitchcock had been in America for a year, but had not made a real American movie yet. Rebecca (1940) was set in England and Foreign Correspondent (1940) took place all over Europe. For his first real American movie, Hitchcock made a comedy. A screwball comedy no less.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941), not to be confused with the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie, is about a tried and true subject in Hollywood movies: a couple finds out they really aren’t married. So the question becomes: if they had it to do over again, would they remain married? Psycho this isn’t.
Although this might not seem like a typical Alfred Hitchcock movie, it does feature some of his trademarks. Obviously it is a comedy, so there is humor which is always present in a Hitchcock movie -- typically it is used to counterbalance the suspense. There is also the breathtaking blonde, this time Carole Lombard, who plays Mrs. Ann Smith.
Lombard and Hitchcock were good friends, which is one of the reasons why Hitchcock agreed to work with her on this comedy. When she married Clark Gable, she agreed to rent out her house to Hitchcock when he arrived from England.
Their relationship was such that on the first day of shooting, Hitchcock arrived on the set to find a group of cattle in a pen. He thought this was funny. Of course this was a reference to Hitchcock’s famous quote about actors being cattle, although he always maintained that the quote was “actors should be treated like cattle.” Whatever the true quote was, the joke was not lost on the man who loved to play practical jokes.
As for the movie, well it is nothing special. Successful lawyer David Smith, played by Robert Montgomery, and his wife, Ann, have interesting marital fights. They lock themselves in their room together until their fight is over. This could last hours, weeks or months. During this particular fight, David informs his wife that if he had it to do all over again, he would not marry her. This seems perfectly all right with Ann. A few minutes later though, the couple as made up and they go their separate ways after spending so much quality time locked-up together.
When David arrives at his office, he is informed by a little man that he is in fact not married to his wife because of some legal technicality. When Ann finds this out, it is agreed that a little time with other people might be best. So the two go out looking for other mates. David has no luck, while Ann finds someone. This infuriates David and he tries his best to win Ann back. Most of the comedy comes from David trying to get back with Ann. The movie ends happily for all involved as David and Ann get back together.
This movie isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it is entertaining. Especially for those who enjoy eye candy. There is plenty of that on screen in the forms of Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. Otherwise, there just isn’t much here. There are no classic comedy routines, lines or scenes in this picture.