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Rich Man, Poor Girl (1938)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 12 August 1938 (USA)
A rich businessman wants to marry his secretary, but first he has to pass muster with her middle-class family.


(as Reinhold Schunzel)


(screen play) (as Joseph A. Fields), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Bill Harrison
Henry Thayer
Joan Thayer
Sally Harrison
Tom Grogan
Miss Selma Willis
Mrs. Gussler


A rich businessman wants to marry his secretary, but first he has to pass muster with her middle-class family.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 August 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

It's Now or Never  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was an adaptation of a Broadway play titled "White Collars" by Edith Ellis. The original stage production opened at the Cort Theatre in New York on Feb. 23, 1925 and ran for 104 performances. There was an earlier film adaptation called The Idle Rich (1929) starring Conrad Nagel, Bessie Love, Leila Hyams and Robert Ober. See more »


Referenced in The John Garfield Story (2003) See more »


There's No Place Like Home (Home, Sweet Home)
(1823) (uncredited)
Music partly composed, and arranged by H.R. Bishop from a Sicilian air
Played on piano by Lew Ayres
See more »

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User Reviews

delightful cast in a so-so movie
24 January 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I guess "Rich Man, Poor Girl" is supposed to be akin to "You Can't Take it With You" in that the Thayers are kind of whacko.

This is a pleasant film about a wealthy man, Bill Harrison (Robert Young), who falls in love with his secretary, Joan Thayer (Ruth Hussey). She is a member of the Great Working Class.

When she brings him home to meet the family, Joan realizes how far apart they are in terms of class and upbringing. She thinks they should wait to marry. To move the date sooner, Harrison moves in with the family. But when he tries to help them, his generosity isn't always well received.

Lana Turner plays Helen, Joan's sister. Here she's probably 17 or 18 and adorable. Helen is thrilled that there's going to be a rich man in the family and can't wait. Her cousin Henry (Lew Ayres) is constantly giving bombastic lectures about the curse of "the great working class" and boy, does he sound timely. His speeches could be written today. For instance, he complains that a poor man can walk into a hospital and be treated, a wealthy man can afford to be treated, but what about the middle class? He has to pay and it could easily wipe him out.

This is certainly a lively film, with Turner a standout. It's light but fun.

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