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Four's a Crowd (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 3 September 1938 (USA)
Robert will do anything to get the big account that has eluded him. His public relations business makes public angels of rich scoundrels. Jean needs someone to save the paper and she wants ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
John P. Dillingwell
Butler Pierce
Joe Cunningham ...
Buckley's Secretary (scenes deleted)
Lansford's 1st Secretary


Robert will do anything to get the big account that has eluded him. His public relations business makes public angels of rich scoundrels. Jean needs someone to save the paper and she wants Robert. When he finds out that Pat is dating Lorri, John Dillingwell's granddaughter, he gets involved. Robert begins to make John the most hated man and Lorri blames Pat, the publisher. He then goes to John for a job to erase all the bad publicity that he has gotten from the paper. This works until Pat tells John that Robert was behind the smear campaign. But John decides that he does need some good publicity and hires Robert to provide it... Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two's company, three's a triangle but "Four's a Crowd!"


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

3 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

All Rights Reserved  »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bob's salary of $1,500 per week to return to the newspaper would be the equivalent of over $25,600 per week in 2016. See more »


The microphone is briefly visible, reflected in the window just before Jean sits for her shoe-shine. See more »


Robert Kensington 'Bob' Lansford: You know Miss Christy?
Patterson 'Pat' Buckley: Why yes, she helped me out with my pants this evening.
Lorri Dillingwell: What?
See more »


Featured in Breakdowns of 1938 (1938) See more »


Frühlingslied (Spring Song) Op. 62, No. 6
(1842) (uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Hummed and danced by Olivia de Havilland
See more »

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User Reviews

Mayhem and match mixes are too tangled to follow
10 January 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

What a wonderful cast this 1938 Warner Brothers film has. It's too bad it didn't have a script to match the 1936 MGM blockbuster that this movie seems to copy. William Powell, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy were the mainliners of "Libeled Lady" of 1936. Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Rosalind Russell and Patric Knowles have the similar parts in this film. But the scripts are a huge difference in the two films. The script of "Libeled Lady" is excellent, original and ingenious. The script of "Four's a Crowd" is terrible, and drags the entire film down.

There are so many fast scenes, sudden changes, and quick diversions here, that the movie has almost no cohesion. It comes across as a montage of a couple dozen sketches pieced together on film.

Most of the reviewers of this movie to date seem to be of the same mind about the incoherence of the plot. I was surprised to find one though, who differed. I note this only because that is one of a few frequent reviewers whom I always look for and whose comments I usually enjoy. I often agree with that reviewer, and even when I don't, I usually learn something new or interesting that I wasn't aware of before. Or, I get a different take that I hadn't considered. But, in this case, that reviewer thought this film to be better than the 1936 movie.

The screenplay here lacks any funny dialog. The film is all situational, and much of the humor is lost because of the fast, disconnected pace. Unless Warner Brothers thought people would consider the repetitive deceptions by Errol Flynn's character, Bob Lansford, to be humorous.

My rating of six stars for this film is based solely on the performances of the cast. All are quite good. Flynn's comedic situations are very amusing, and this film clearly shows that he can do comedy routines – if not comedy dialog. Russell and Knowles are very good. Walter Connolly, who frequently plays these types of roles, I think excels as the cantankerous J.P. Dillingwell, who relishes being regarded as the most hated man in America. And, Olivia de Havilland is exceptional in her role. She sparkles as Lorri Dillingwell, and shows that she can match the best of comical females as a ditzy dame. For the life of me, I can't understand why one or two people might think she was wasted in tackling such an unusually different role. I think it further proves her depth and ability as an actress.

Comedies often include nonsensical stuff. But we audiences need to be able to follow the details in order to appreciate and enjoy the humor. Here's an example, toward the end of the movie, of how this movie losses viewers. Lansford asks Jean Christy (played by Russell) if she would marry Patterson Buckley (played by Knowles) if she could. She says something like "you can bet I would." So, Lansford tells her to tell Buckley that he, Lansford is in love with her. He says that Buckley will then propose to her. Later she does that and sure enough, Buckley proposes. She is floored and comments on Lansford as a genius psychologist.

Later, the two couples are together and go to a justice of the peace to get married – Bob to Lorri and Jean to Buckley. Some slightly humorous confusion takes place with the foursome and the JP and his wife. Then the foursome simply change partners and Bob and Jean wed, and Lorri and Buckley wed. So, Jean didn't want to marry Buckley after all – but Bob instead? Were these the right matches, or weren't they? Or, maybe that's supposed to be part of the humor?

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