28 user 6 critic

H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941)

A man who lived his life as he was was told he should, not as he would have chosen to, is brought out of his shell by a beautiful young woman.



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

On Disc

at Amazon

2 wins. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Seeking US citizenship, a Viennese refugee arranges a marriage of convenience with a struggling writer.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Ian Hunter
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The beautiful wife of a tweedy astronomer becomes convinced that her astrologer's prediction of a new dream man in her life will come true.

Directors: Alexander Hall, Vincente Minnelli
Stars: William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, James Craig
Crossroads (1942)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Diplomat is blackmailed for crimes he committed before he had amnesia.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, Claire Trevor
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Georgi has attempted suicide in reaction to an earlier love affair. Now that Dr. Decker has married her he sets out to get her to love him. To make enough to give her what she wants he ... See full summary »

Directors: W.S. Van Dyke, Frank Borzage, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, Verree Teasdale
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

There is a problem with foreign nationals using Cuba as a convenient jumping off point for illegal entry into the United States. So U.S. Immigration Service Agent Peter Karczag (John Hodiak... See full summary »

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, John Hodiak, James Craig
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Playboy Bill Carey woos a half-caste beauty in French Indochina, but her second-class legal status makes a formidable barrier.

Directors: Jack Conway, Leslie Fenton
Stars: Robert Taylor, Hedy Lamarr, Joseph Schildkraut
White Cargo (1942)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

The story takes place at a British plantation in Africa where Tondelayo entices all the Brits, especially Harry Witzel.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Walter Pidgeon, Frank Morgan
Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Discovery by Flo Ziegfeld changes a girl's life but not necessarily for the better, as three beautiful women find out when they join the spectacle on Broadway: Susan, the singer who must ... See full summary »

Directors: Robert Z. Leonard, Busby Berkeley
Stars: James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr
Film-Noir | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1903, a doctor suspects murder in the gothic Bederaux family.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, George Brent, Paul Lukas
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An aging film star and her alcoholic daughter compete for a handsome extra.

Director: Harry Keller
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Jane Powell, Jan Sterling
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A bellboy at a swanky New York hotel starts to ignore his girlfriend after meeting a beautiful European princess.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker, June Allyson
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Vincent Van Der Lyn, a Dutch freedom fighter in WWII, is forced to neutral Lisbon to escape the Nazis. There he meets a small band of underground conspirators. The group's leader, Ricardo ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet


Complete credited cast:
Mr. Pulham Sr.
Bill King
Mrs. John Pulham
Douglas Wood ...
Mr. Bullard
Walter Kaufman
Rodney 'Bo-Jo' Brown (as Leif Erikson)
Joe Bingham
David Clyde ...
Hugh the Butler
Miss Rollo


Fortysomething, blue blooded Boston born and bred, Harvard educated businessman Harry Pulham leads a regimented, routinized life with his wife, the former Kay Motford, who he's known since childhood. Harry outwardly believes he is all the more happy because of the way his life is, which was somewhat predetermined as part of his upbringing. This day, he receives two telephone calls which make him examine his life. The first is from Bo-Jo Brown, a Harvard colleague who is heading a twenty-five year reunion committee, with Harry foisted into the job of writing attendee biographies, which is to include his own. The second is from Marvin Myles, a former work colleague from his time over twenty years ago at the J.T. Bullard Advertising Agency in New York City, that job which Harry got from his more liberally minded Harvard friend Bill King. The result of these two telephone calls makes Harry wonder if he is happy, if he is or ever was in love with Kay, and if he never was if he would have ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


MILLIONS HAVE READ IT!..A Book-Of-The-Month selection...as a Readers' Digest story...as a McCall Magazine serial. (original 6x7.5 newspaper ad) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »





Release Date:

13 August 1942 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Sol de Outono  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on July 13, 1942 with Hedy Lamarr and Robert Young reprising their film roles. See more »


The flashback scenes in a taxi take place in 1919, however, the footage through rear-projection through the back window of the cab clearly show late 1930s automobiles. See more »


Harry Moulton Pulham: They say that you can get over anything in time. I don't believe you can... but given enough time you can put it where it belongs.
See more »


Referenced in We Must Have Music (1941) See more »


The Band Played On
(1895) (uncredited)
Music by Chas. B. Ward
Played at the dance class party
Danced to by Brenda Henderson and Bobby Cooper
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Leisurely paced yet excellent drama is beautifully acted…
12 April 2008 | by See all my reviews

Produced by the MGM studios and directed by the prestigious King Vidor, H.M. PULHAM, ESQ. contains Hedy Lamarr delivering the best dramatic performance of her career. Here she is not the mysterious, distant, and seductive woman as in her other films; rather, she is warm, loving, kind, and human in her role as Marvin Myles, a career girl who works and eventually falls in love with the title character, Harry Pulham (Robert Young). This bittersweet film was Hedy's personal favorite film and the mild-mannered Robert was her favorite costar. Robert was not the first choice for the role: both Gary Cooper and James Stewart turned the role down, leading Vidor to offer the role to Robert Young, a solid actor but hardly a matinée idol. In order to fill up more theatre seats, studio executives ordered Vidor to cast the gorgeous Hedy Lamarr with Robert.

The film contains a superb supporting cast: Charles Coburn as Harry's father, Van Heflin as Harry's best friend, Ruth Hussey as the woman Harry eventually marries, and Fay Holden as Harry's kind and understanding mother. Under Vidor's meticulous direction, all the performances are excellent and the film contains a subtle quality that seldom dates the film. The film is the first to present a phone conversation as it would be heard in real life, while other films at the time would use distorted voiceovers. MGM composer Bronislau Kaper includes a sparse music score that heightens the reality of the film, despite the soap opera elements of the story. The screenplay, written by Vidor and his wife Elizabeth Hill, is intelligently written and is based on a bestselling novel by J.P. Marquand.

My only complaints for the film are its slow pace and two-hour length, as well as an obvious indoor set representing the exterior of Harry's Boston mansion in the winter. Some editing, some trimmed scenes, and a more realistic set could have made the film even better.

The film brought Vidor some of his best reviews since his silent films, and Hedy was lauded for her performance in some reviews and criticized for being miscast in other reviews. One critic for the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Every performance in the film achieves memorable quality…Hedy Lamarr undertakes the assignment of a business girl, Marvin Myles, and pre-production critics were quick to voice their objections to her so-called miscasting. The manner in which Miss Lamarr comes through puts to a glorious end all the controversy, leaving her critics with a lot of words to eat. She does Marvin Myles, the girl Pulham might have married, so that it is impossible to imagine another actress in the part—that's how excellent she is." Vidor also thought that Hedy's performance was excellent but he later stated that he wanted an American actress in the role.

Sadly, Hedy never again received an intelligent script or mature role in her career and returned to the bland typecast roles that she was known for. Despite its flaws, H.M. PULHAM, ESQ. is a thought-provoking and solid drama containing excellent and subtle performances.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 28 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page