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Auto magnate James Buchanan has a fiancée who doesn't love him and a board of directors who won't listen to him. Brooding on a park bench, he meets unemployed Joan Hawthorne, a fine cook who needs a partner to apply for a 'couple' butler/cook job with gourmet ex-bootlegger Mike Rossini. Bemused, Buchanan goes along with the gag, taking lessons from his own butler. But there's sure to be a day of reckoning... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In order to cash in on Frank Capra's popularity in England, Columbia Pictures released this film in London as "A Frank Capra Production, produced by Frank Capra." Capra who had never even seen the film was furious. This led to a bitter year-long dispute between the head of Columbia Harry Cohn, and Capra (who sued Columbia for libel). It almost cost Cohn his job and almost resulted in Capra leaving the studio. It was resolved when Cohn relented and promised to buy for Capra, the rights to the play "You Can't Take It with You" for $200,000, and pay him some back salary if he would drop the suit. And Capra did. See more »
Following a loveless wedding rehearsal, automobile designer Herbert Marshall (as James "Jim" Buchanan) has a bad day with his "Buchanan Motor Co" board of directors and goes for a walk in the park. Contemplating life on a park bench, Mr. Marshall meets attractive blonde Jean Arthur (as Joan Hawthorne). Assuming Marshall is likewise unemployed, Ms. Arthur shares the "Help Wanted" classified ads with him. She thinks they might improve their luck by responding to a "cook and butler" job offer together. They get a job working for shady Leo Carrillo (as Michael "Mike" Rossini) at "Rossini Manor", but must pretend to be husband and wife. When he discovers Marshall and Ms. Arthur are not sharing the bed in their living quarters, Mr. Carrillo decides to move in on Arthur...
Of course, Marshall and Arthur discover they mutually attracted. Partially because it's so expected, there is little interest or investment in Marshall and Arthur as a couple. The co-stars have a few good moments curiously, they are more appealing when they are not sharing the screen. The story seems to slow down as it progresses. Gravel-voiced Lionel Stander (as Flash) adds some much-needed spark. "If You Could Only Cook" is more famous as the film Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn falsely promoted abroad as a Frank Capra Production. The successful filmmaker was understandably miffed at the studio mogul.
****** If You Could Only Cook (12/25/35) William A. Seiter ~ Herbert Marshall, Jean Arthur, Lionel Stander, Leo Carrillo
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