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Joseph I. Breen, director of the Production Code Administration, expressed displeasure with Franklin Pangborn's character, a rather effeminate hosiery merchant. Breen complained to Hal Roach that Pangborn's character was too "pansyish" and asked Roach to tone down the role's effeminacy. See more »
Watching Turnabout and knowing it was produced and directed by Hal Roach right after One Million BC which made stars of Victor Mature and Carole Landis, I'm wondering if Roach didn't want to do this film with both of stars from One Million BC. For whatever reason Mature didn't do this one, Roach co-starred Landis with John Hubbard who was also in the cast of One Million BC.
Known primarily for his short subjects, Roach occasionally did a feature film that bent a few rules of the Code. Possibly because he was not in with the major film studios, Roach had a whole lot more creative freedom and is Turnabout he made the most of it.
Landis and Hubbard are a young and constantly bickering couple. He's a partner in an advertising agency with William Gargan and Adolph Menjou. And her two best friends are Mary Astor and Joyce Compton, said wives of Menjou and Gargan.
After a day of quarreling both express a wish to live each other's lives and they express it before a statue of a Hindu deity named Ram which grants their wish. Whoosh, and they're in each other's attire and talking for the audience's amusement with each other's voices.
After that it's a succession of gender bending jokes and lines which come so fast it's a crying shame that Turnabout is not out on DVD or VHS. With those you have the luxury of rewinding and hearing it again to catch what you missed. And this is the kind of film where you can watch it over and over and still come up with a fresh laugh.
For a small studio Roach's reputation was such that he commanded a supporting cast that could and did equal a film from any of the major studios. Besides the names already mentioned Turnabout includes Marjorie Main, Verree Teasdale, Franklin Pangborn, Berton Churchill and Donald Meek.
The last includes the funniest sight gag in the film. Meek plays Hubbard's manservant and he's quite a sight trying to deal with a ferocious little dog that looks more like a bear cub. Absolutely hilarious and there's quite the story of how that dog came into the possession of Hubbard and Landis.
This film must have been in the inspiration for those Walt Disney Freaky Friday films and the Dudley Moore/Kirk Cameron film Like Father Like Son. But none of those could boast a cast like this.
This one is an absolute gem, just waiting to be rediscovered.
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