The Palm Beach Story

The Palm Beach Story

Infobox Film
name = The Palm Beach Story

image_size = 215px
caption = theatrical poster
director = Preston Sturges
producer = Buddy G. DeSylva "(uncredited)"
writer = Preston Sturges
starring = Claudette Colbert
Joel McCrea
Mary Astor
Rudy Vallee
music = Victor Young
cinematography = Victor Milner
editing = Stuart Gilmore
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = 2 November fy|1942 "(NY)"
7 November "(general)"
runtime = 88 minutes
language = English
country = FilmUS
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0035169

"The Palm Beach Story" is a fy|1942 romantic screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee. Victor Young contributed the lively musical score, including a fastpaced variation of "The William Tell Overture" for the opening scenes. Typical for a Sturges movie, the pacing and dialogue of "The Palm Beach Story" are very fast.


Thomas and Geraldine Jeffers (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert) are a married couple in New York City who love each other, but are down on their luck financially. Gerry decides that Tom would be better off if they split up, so she packs her bags, borrows some money from The Wienie King (Robert Dudley), a strange but rich little man who's stopped by because he's thinking of renting the Jeffers' apartment, and boards a train for Palm Beach, Florida, to establish residency in anticipation of a divorce, and in the hope of meeting a wealthy second husband who can help Tom. On the train, she meets the eccentric John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee), one of the richest men in the world (whose name is reminiscent of John D. Rockefeller's).

Because of an encounter with the wild and drunken millionaire members of the "Ale and Quail" hunting club, Gerry loses all her luggage and, after making do with clothing scrounged from other passengers, is forced to accept Hackensacker's charity, which turns out to be extravagant. They leave the train and go on a massive shopping spree for everything from lingere to jewelry – Hackensacker minutely noting the cost of everything in a little notebook, which he never bothers to add up – and make the remainder of the trip to Palm Beach on Hackensacker's yacht.

In the antic manner of their namesakes Tom and Jerry, Tom follows Gerry to Palm Beach by air, also with the impromptu financial assistance of The Wienie King. When Tom meets Hackensacker, Gerry introduces him as her brother, giving him the improbable name "Captain McGlew". Soon, Hackensacker falls for Gerry, while his often-married, man-hungry sister, Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor), chases Tom, much to the distress of her last lover, Toto (Sig Arno), who's still following her around. To help further his suit with Gerry, Hackensacker agrees to invest in Tom's grand masterpiece, a scheme to build an airport suspended over a city by wires.

Tom finally persuades Gerry to give their marriage another chance, and they confess their masquerade to their disappointed suitors. Even though he's disappointed, Hackensacker intends to go through with his investment in the suspended airport, since he thinks it's a good business deal, and he never lets anything get in the way of business. Then, when Tom and Gerry let slip that they met because they are both identical twins – a fact which somewhat explains the opening sequence of the film, which until now has not been referred to [The significance and meaning of the wedding montage which opens the film has been debated at length. TCM [ Notes] ] – Hackensacker and his sister are elated. The final scene shows Hackensacker and Gerry's sister, and the Princess and Tom's brother, getting married.

The film ends with the words: "And they lived happily ever after...or did they?"

(The rather obscure meaning of the opening is explained by the fact that both Tom and Geraldine are from sets of identical twins and there was a successful attempt to stop Gerry's sister from marrying Tom...Gerry got him instead.)


*Claudette Colbert as Geraldine "Gerry" Jeffers
*Joel McCrea as Tom Jeffers ("Capt. McGlew")
*Mary Astor as The Princess Centimillia
*Rudy Vallee as John D. Hackensacker III
*Sig Arno as Toto
*Robert Dudley as "The Wienie King"
*Arthur Stuart Hull as Mr. Osmond
*Torben Meyer as Dr. Kluck
*Victor Potel as Mr. McKeewie
*Robert Dudley as Wienie King
*Franklin Pangborn as Apartment Manager
*Arthur Hoyt as Pullman Conductor
*Al Bridge as Conductor
*Fred "Snowflake" Toones as George, Club Car Bartender
*Charles R. Moore as Train Porter
*Frank Moran as Brakeman
*Harry Rosenthal as Orchestra Leader
*Esther Howard as Wife of Wienie King :"The Ale and Quail Club:"
*Jimmy Conlin as Mr. Asweld
*Robert Warwick as Mr. Hinch
*William Demarest as First Member
*Jack Norton as Second Member
*Robert Greig as Third Member
*Roscoe Ates as Fourth Member
*Dewey Robinson as Fifth Member
*Chester Conklin as Sixth Member
*Sheldon Jett as Seventh Member

Cast notes:
*This was Sturges' second collaboration with Joel McCrea, following "Sullivan's Travels" from the previous year and they would work together again on "The Great Moment", which was filmed in fy|1942 (but released in fy|1944). Although Claudette Colbert and Sturges had both worked on "The Big Pond" (fy|1930) and the fy|1934 version of "Imitation of Life", "The Palm Beach Story" was the only time they worked together on a movie Sturges wrote and directed.
*"The Palm Beach Story" was Rudy Vallee's first comedic role, and it garnered him a contract from Paramount, as well as an award for Best Actor of 1942 from the National Board of Review. [Allmovie [ Awards] ] He would go on to appear in Sturges' "The Sin of Harold Diddlebock", "Unfaithfully Yours" and "The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend".
*Many members of Sturges' unofficial "stock company" of character actors appear in "The Palm Beach Story", among them Al Bridge, Chester Conklin, Jimmy Conlin, William Demarest, Robert Dudley, Byron Foulger, Robert Greig, Harry Hayden, Arthur Hoyt, Torben Meyer, Frank Moran, Charles R. Moore, Jack Norton, Franklin Pangborn, Victor Potel, Dewey Robinson, Harry Rosenthal, Julius Tannen and Robert Warwick.
*This was the seventh of ten films written by Preston Sturges that William Demarest appeared in (see note). [Demarest appeared in "Diamond Jim" (fy|1935), "Easy Living" (fy|1937), "The Great McGinty" (fy|1940), "Christmas in July" (fy|1940), "The Lady Eve" (fy|1941), "Sullivan's Travels" (fy|1941), "The Palm Beach Story" (fy|1942), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), "Hail the Conquering Hero" (fy|1944) and "The Great Moment" (1944)]


At least of the initial inspiration for "The Palm Beach Story" may have come to Preston Sturges from close to home, since his ex-wife, Eleanor Hutton, was an heiress who moved among the European aristocracy, and was once wooed by Prince Jerome Rospigliosi-Gioeni, among others. And Sturges himself had shuttled back and forth between Europe and America as a young man. Indeed one incident in film is based on something which happened to Sturges and his mother while traveling by train to Paris, when the car with their compartment was unhitched while they were eating dinner two cars away.Stafford, Jeff [ "The Palm Beach Story" (TCM article)] ]

The story Sturges came up with had the title "Is Marriage Necessary", and this, along with an alternative, "Is That Bad?", became a working title for the film. Unfortunately, "Is Marriage Necessary?" was rejected by the censors of the Hays Office, who also rejected the script that Paramount submitted to them because of its "sex suggestive situations...and dialogue." Changes were made, but the Hays Office continued to reject the script because of its "light treatment of marriage and divorce" and because of similarities between the "John D. Hackensacker III" character and John D. Rockefeller. More changes were made, including reducing the number of Princess Centimillia's previous marriages from eight to three (plus two annulments), before the script finally was approved.TCM [ Notes] ]

The cast Sturges assembled for the film was not che

The film went into production on 24 November fy|1941 and wrapped on 13 January fy|1942. [TCM [ Overview] ] It premiered in New York City on 2 November 1942 and went in to general release on 7 November. [IMDB [ Release dates] ] The film was released on video in the U.S. on 12 July fy|1990 and re-released on 30 June fy|1993. [TCM [ Misc. notes] ]

ee also

Dialogue from the film


External links

* [ Greatest Films- The Palm Beach Story] Critique and thorough plot description/analysis.
* [ Sturges Urges] at metroactive
* [ The Palm Beach Story] at Portico

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