Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) Poster

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With the Right Expectations, It Works Well Enough
Snow Leopard30 September 2004
This is a good example of a movie that could be quite disappointing for anyone who had too many or too specific expectations for it. It's an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but it's not at all like any of his better-known films. The offbeat premise leads you to expect a 1930s-style screwball comedy, but instead it has a different brand of humor altogether.

The tone of the film blends together the screwball plot idea with Hitchcock's dry sense of humor and the upbeat charm of Carole Lombard. It's something of an odd combination, but it works all right as long as you don't have too many preconceptions.

Lombard and Robert Montgomery work well as "Mr. & Mrs. Smith", who find out at the beginning of the movie that they are not really married. Most of the story that follows moves at a decent pace, and although there are never any big laughs, there is some good material. It never really hits high gear, but once you get used to the pace, most of it works well enough.

It does slow down quite a bit towards the end, as things run out of steam, and this keeps the movie from being better. A grand climax in the screwball tradition might have made it a very good movie. Instead, as it is, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is a pleasant, generally amusing, slightly above-average romantic comedy.
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Carole and Hitch
bkoganbing17 January 2006
According to the Films of Alfred Hitchcock, Carole Lombard prevailed upon Alfred Hitchcock to direct one her comedy films as a favor. Since Hitchcock admired her talent he did so.

It's important to remember that this is a Carole Lombard film and view it that way. Viewed as such it's not a bad marital comedy though if one is expecting certain Hitchcock touches they won't be there.

Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard are a constantly spatting married couple. They love each other, but to them arguing is like exercise. In a moment of oneupsmanship Montgomery answers in the affirmative to a question by Lombard as to whether he'd marry her if he had to do it all over again.

His words come back to haunt him when Charles Halton from Lombard's hometown in Idaho and says that because of a technicality they're not legally married. Montgomery spends the rest of the film trying to win Lombard back.

Some of the best movie comedies have been made on a premise flimsier than this one. Mr.&Mrs. Smith is not the best of comedies, but it is far from the worst.

I have a feeling that Alfred Hitchcock may have had Lombard in mind for future projects more of his own taste. I can see her easily in some of his later films. Lombard was only 32 when she died.

Pity we'll never know.
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this is hitchcock?
argento-421 May 2000
As a long-time Hitchcock fan, I avoided this as I would some of his silent dramas, as not typical of his work. However, I just watched one of the funniest, smartest, and sweetest screwball comedies I have ever seen, ranking for me with My Man Godfrey and Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Carole Lombard is absolutely radiant and I found myself laughing out loud many times, something I don't do usually when watching a movie alone. I adored it and I can't see why its rating isn't higher here. Hitchcock excelled as much at comedy as suspense and this one proves it.
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I do, I do
jotix10011 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film has nothing to do with the current film of the same title. Thank goodness for that! "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is a rarity in that it was directed by that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The film pays in ways that only a crafty Hitchcock would know how. The director takes Norman Krasna's screen play and gives it an elegant treatment.

The idea of a technicality annulling a marriage is at the center of the story. When David Smith is told about it, he sees the possibility of not telling his wife. Ann and David have a strange marriage life. They love each other dearly and they seem to work at maintaining their union as a fun enterprise where they are playful and do unexpected things to please one another. David miscalculates Ann's reaction to his playing a joke and not telling her about their new status.

The revelation at the beginning of the film is made known to Ann, who goes along with the joke expecting to be asked that same day to run to a justice of the peace to get married again. When David doesn't act on what for Ann seems to be essential, she flies into a rage and vows to get even with David. This is the basic premise of the comedy. Things get complicated, but we know all will be right at the end as Ann will come to her senses. David also is expected to legalize their status.

The film is a joy to watch because of the two stars. Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery were two charismatic performers that had an uncanny sense of timing. They make a delicious couple that deserve to be happy, even at the expense of making each other crazy in the process. Just to see a playful Carole Lombard giving a razor shave to Robert Montgomery is well worth the prize of admission!

The rest of the cast is outstanding. Gene Raymond plays David's partner, Jefferson Custer, an upright man who admires Ann from a distance. Their scene when they get stuck in the rain at Coney Island's parachute, has to be one of the highlights of the movie. That whole sequence after they return to Jeff's apartment and he gets the "liquor" medicine from Ann is hilarious.

There is a cameo from the director that passes by too quickly and if the viewer is not paying attention, it will be missed. Jack Carson is excellent as the bad influence for David. Philip Mervale and Lucile Watson are seen as Jeff's parents.

This film proves Alfred Hitchcock could have tried his hand at more comedies because he seems to be a natural to the genre. Of course, any director was going to excel with Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery playing the lead roles of any movie!
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zetes14 October 2001
It's unfair to look over this film because it is not a true Hitchcock film. It's still a great film, and a great screwball comedy. It is very funny and contains at least two of the funniest scenes I've ever seen, the one where Robert Montgomery plans to have premarital sex with Lombard, thinking she doesn't know that they aren't married, and the restaurant scene, where Montgomery pretends to talk to a really pretty girl who's sitting next to him. You can just barely see Hitchcock in this film - there are a few marvelous camera movements and angles that seem like Hitchcock was sighing, saying, "God, I'm bored!" The two leads, Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery, are wonderful. Everyone else, Gene Raymond as Jeff and Jack Carson as Chuck (he's especially hilarious; I wish he had had even more scenes!), and everyone else, too, is constantly hitting bullseyes.

Unfortunately, in the last 20 or 30 minutes of the film, it begins to fall apart, after the plot moves to Lake Placid. First off, it's begins to grow tiresome. Lombard is starting to come off as unnecessarily cruel. The faux drunken mumblings of Montgomery aren't as funny as they're supposed to be. Jeff's parents are getting in the way. At least the final scene makes up for some of that! 8/10.
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Enjoyable fluff from Hitch
Robert D. Ruplenas30 August 1999
Mr. Surif was wrong when he calls this Hitch's only venture into comedy, for "The Trouble With Harry" falls into that category as well. Not having seen all of Hitch's films, there could be others, for all I know.

Unlike "Harry", in which the peripatetic corpse gives the otherwise bucolic goings-on a zanily ghoulish air, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is an exercise in pure romantic comedy. Montgomery and Lombard work beautifully against each other, and the script is elegantly and effervescently witty. The opening scene, in which Hitchcock suggests the aftermath of a protracted and clearly energetic sexual romp, is surprisingly risque for its time, and far more erotically suggestive than some of the blatant stuff we see nowadays.

My only quibble is what I feel to be a rather unsatisfactory and hasty conclusion.
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Lombard and Montgomery are a great team....
tripper014 September 2001
When I put this movie on I was drowsy, and depressed. It did two things for me after I put it on. It kept me awake, thus entertaining me, and it put a smile on my face.

There are some genuine laughs in this movie, and the comedy is spread between all the characters. Robert Montgomery is extremely funny, with both excellent physical comedy, and great comedic timing with his dialogue. What surprised me most was the excellent comedic timing of Carole Lombard. She is extremely funny, but her chemistry with Montgomery in their scenes together is fantastic.

The direction, of course, is excellent. Not standard Hitchcock suspense, but classic Hitchcock comedy and romance, elements of his film making that a lot of people overlook.

Honestly, this is a fun movie. The humor is intelligent and never sinks to an infantile level. I had never heard of this movie until about two days ago, and I watched it and I was pleasantly surprised. 8 out of 10.
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Lombard + Montgomery + Hitchcock = Mediocrity
theowinthrop13 June 2006
Because it is somewhat unique in Hitchcock's works, there has been a continuous attempt in recent years to upgrade public opinion about MR. AND MRS. SMITH. Hitchcock explained to Francois Truffault in HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAULT that he always wanted to work with Carole Lombard, and she prevailed on him to do this film with her. But that does not really explain the choice of material.

Lombard, of course, is best recalled for her wonderful daffiness in screwball comedies like NOTHING SACRED, TRUE CONFESSIONS, and MY MAN GODFREY. Her co-star, Robert Montgomery, had been in many delightful comedies (PETTICOAT FEVER, PICADILLY JIM) too. But both performers had been in dramatic films. In this period Montgomery (fresh from his great performance as Danny in NIGHT MUST FALL) had made RAGE IN HEAVEN with Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders, and Lombard did VIGIL IN THE NIGHT with Brian Ahearn. They were both highly capable of dramatic performances.

So why couldn't they have sought a more typical Hitchcock screenplay? My suspicion is that Hitchcock chose to make a "screwball comedy" as an experiment. He did that frequently when he felt like stretching his abilities, and sometimes the results were not too good. When it was a technical experiment like ROPE or DIAL "M" FOR MURDER he still had the strength of the film script to fall back on if his nine minute shots or his use of three dimensional film did not quite work wonders with the audience. But when he tried humor, he had less success.

Hitch's sense of humor is not bad - but it works best when he uses it sparingly. In THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956), Hitch sets up a delayed joke involving Hillary Brooke and another actor coming to visit their friends Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day in London. Stewart and Day leave their flat because they are going to try to rescue their son (in the hands of the kidnappers). They apologize and tell Brooke and her husband they'll be back presently with their son. Brooke and her husband look confused as they leave. The remainder of the film, and the melodrama in the embassy is played out. Final scene shows Brooke and her husband have fallen asleep waiting for them. Day, Stewart and their son come in, wake up Brooke and her husband, and proceed to act as though nothing has happened for three or four hours.

That is an example of when the Hitchcock humor works. But then comes his full scale "black comedy" THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, and the viewer has mixed feelings. Individual moments work, like the manipulation of the dull sheriff Royal Dano. But one finds most of the humor about moving a dead body fairly unimaginative...surprisingly so from Hitch.

MR. AND MRS. SMITH is not a black comedy, but it's type of bedroom farce situation would have been better handled by Ernst Lubitsch or Leo McCarey or Preston Sturgis. The joke is that the surface-warring Smiths are really in love, but discover that their marriage was illegal. Montgomery had said he'd marry Lombard again if he had to (prior to the discovery of the illegal marriage), but instead of rushing Lombard off to any nearby church or justice of the peace he hesitates. And Lombard wonders what kind of man she has been illegally married to. So she turns to his partner Gene Raymond, who is interested in her.

There are some interesting moments in the film (Hitchcock has to be of interest always). The scene where Montgomery pretends to be talking to the pretty woman sitting next to him (incurring the ire of her date) is good, culminating in Jack Carson trying to stop a bleeding nose on Montgomery by using a "cold" knife as a cauterizing instrument. There is also a funny moment when Lombard and Raymond, on a trip to an amusement park, get stuck on a ferris wheel on top of it during a heavy thunder storm. But these moments are far and few. As a romantic comedy it is mediocre, despite it's stars and (unfortunately) because of it's director. Hitchcock must have realized it too - until THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY he never attempted a straight comedy again, and (as mentioned before) THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY was not a romantic comedy but a "black comedy".
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Wildly uneven, disappointing with flashes of genius
Dan13 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There seems to be little consensus on this movie; most people love it or hate it. I can see why. The movie has its golden gleaming moments, and then it has its moments that fall flat with a hollow thud. Unfortunately, the ending of the movie is the hollowest thud of all, and smacks almost of soap opera.

Also, Lombard hardly seems herself in this movie; she plays the foil to Montgomery's gleefully devilish protagonist, and only occasionally does she steal a scene. Hitchcock (or perhaps the screenplay) seems almost determined to keep her locked down. A pity.

Still, Montgomery's leering eyes and wicked yet boyish half-smile are by themselves reason enough to watch this movie. The whole issue of forbidden, illicit sex is handled beautifully, because, after all, the two are man and wife in everything but legal technicality. It seems odd that Lombard's character reacts with such savage anger about the whole thing. Considering the way she plays fast and loose with the affections of her husband's partner, even though she can't deny that she has been a common law wife of three years standing, one wouldn't expect such a prudish attitude from her. More likely, she would have joined her erstwhile husband in enjoying the hint of illicit passion. But it's best, in movies like this, not to examine the logic behind the story too closely.

Although Montgomery is the heart of the movie, nevertheless, perhaps the best scene in the movie is when the strait-laced genteel Gene Raymond proceeds from tipsy directly to dead-drunk and delivers possibly the funniest (because the most realistic) rendering of inebriation ever filmed. There's a point where he plants a foot on a step in front of him, a very low step, and one would think that in so doing he had just climbed Mount Everest. Priceless.

Others have noted, and I agree, that outside of Lombard, Montgomery and Raymond, the other characters are mere cardboard props and simply not funny. One can see that Hitchcock himself recognized this. When Raymond is closeted with his concerned parents in the bathroom at his office, the director is reduced to using gurgling plumbing sounds to punctuate the dialog--and for no apparent reason other than for some kind of comedic effect, because the dialog so clearly lacks any. When plumbing steals the show, you know you're in trouble.

One might see, in the trip to the rustic resort, an echo of Shakespeare's comedies, in which the scene always changed from the banal to the fantastical to underscore or even effect the transformation of the characters. But that doesn't happen here. Everyone continues to act the way they did before. That's not surprising, for in Shakespeare, the change in scene always happened at the beginning, not the end. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and the personalities of the characters are engraved in marble by this point.

These scenes mark the final transition of a movie that was already verging on stage-bound into more or less just another play on celluloid. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does little to revive the movie's already fainting comedic momentum. It attempts the usual farce, door-slamming, rushing to-and-fro, characters affecting dramatic poses, but it doesn't really work, and that devilish grin of Montgomery's seems long, long in the past. He becomes a cipher for the last part of the movie, Raymond's character was a cipher to begin with, and that leaves only Lombard, whose character was hemmed into a cage of shrewishness by the script (or the director) from the very beginning. The ending, therefore, is arbitrary and unsatisfying, and worst of all, not the least bit funny. The movie turns too late to pratfall comedy, and the image of Lombard tangled in skis simply doesn't work. She's been far too efficient and capable until now to be believable as the hapless, helpless, love-lorn buffoon.

Nevertheless, the movie was well worth watching. I'll never forget those gleaming eyes and that almost forward-leaning stride of Montgomery, as if he just couldn't wait to barrel into the next scene. One is almost tempted to forgive him his chumminess with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

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Mr. & Mrs. Smith
oOoBarracuda24 October 2016
The most surprising entry from the filmography of Alfred Hitchcock is his 1941 film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Hitchcock claimed he made the film as a favor to lead actress Carole Lombard; Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the only screwball comedy the famous suspense director ever made. Starring along with Carole Lombard is Robert Montgomery; the pair plays a married couple who find out that their marriage is unofficial, and instead of going through the legal paperwork to make their union legal, they question each other and their feelings. Out of his element, Hitchcock put forth a classic comedy that oddly still feels like a Hitchcock film, a true treat for the serious fan as they wade through Hitch's body of work.

Elite New York couple Ann Smith (Carole Lombard) and David Smith (Robert Montgomery) have enjoyed an affectionate, loving, wedded bliss for three years. After individual visits from their lawyers, however, they learn that a municipal technicality prevented their union from being legally recognized. What should be a simple fix, turns into a possible breakup for the couple as they start to wonder how much in love with each other they truly are. The day the couple was told of the technicality, David commented over breakfast that if he were to start his life over, he would never marry. Despite his love for his wife, David feels as though an immense amount of sacrifice of himself has taken place due to his marriage to his wife. That comment has stuck with Ann as she decides what to do about her defunct marriage to her husband. Ann decides that a separation is in order and she begins to live the life of a single woman, even re-adopting her maiden name. As Ann enjoys her new life and freedoms, David sets his sights to stop at nothing to win back the devotion of his wife. Winning back Ann's hand becomes much more difficult as she begins dating other men. As David becomes increasingly more disgruntled with life without his wife, he begins to realize that maybe he wouldn't remove his wife from his life if he had the chance to do it again.

As a fan of classic cinema, I was both surprised and embarrassed to realize that this was the first film I had seen of classic star Carole Lombard. I was happy to change that status and finally see her of a film; I found Lombard's acting exceptional and engaging, and cannot wait to see more of her work. This film is a lot of fun with the slight nods to silent cinema it seems to employ. The ways in which Mr. & Mrs. Smith plays out like a silent film, prove to be a perfect match to the plot of men's and women's relationships of the 1940's. As Lombard gains independence, she enjoys life without her husband more, therefore illustrating the liberation of women in the 40's. Although Mr. & Mrs. Smith has a very Howard Hawks feel to it, it is also clear that there are many aspects recognizable as Hitchcock touches. For instance, this journey through Alfred Hitchcock's filmography, I have grown quite fond of the way in which the auteur films faces. That same unique way faces are filmed are present in this film and are fun to watch. Sure, the film is a comedy, therefore Hitchcock touches are few and far between, but the film doesn't feel foreign to fans of Hitchcock and one can see his touches in it throughout the film. Fans of Hitchcock must see this film, if for no other reason, just to see the famous suspense director trying his hand at comedy; although, if given a chance, one won't be disappointed with a Carole Lombard film, either.
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By the numbers
keith-moyes23 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
First: a warning.

I recently saw this movie on DVD in the Universal 'Hitchcock Collection' series. The source print looks to be in immaculate condition, but the image is a bit soft, suggesting it might be a second generation copy straight from video. The framing is far too tight, so all the compositions are terrible. Even the title of the movie is cropped. I gather from other IMDb reviews that there is a much better version available.

Mr and Mrs Smith is just a footnote to Hitchcock's career.

In his lengthy interviews with Francois Truffaut in the Sixties, Hitchcock gave a comprehensive overview of his whole body of work, but all he could say about this picture is that he did it as a favour to Carole Lombard and that he didn't understand the characters so just photographed Norman Krasna's screenplay.

In truth, there is not much more that needs to be said.

It is a screwball comedy out of the same mould as It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday and Philapdelphia Story. Carole Lombard is a typically feisty wife who learns that her marriage is technically invalid, falls out with with her husband on the flimsiest of pretexts and spends most of the picture being 'adorably' unreasonable.

Robert Montgomery does well enough as the put upon husband, but it is hard not to lose patience with him. Long before the end of the movie the audience is saying: "dump the silly cow, she's not worth it."

Gene Raymond plays the best friend with whom she becomes engaged. He is supposed to be a courtly, 'old family' Southerner, although this is not obvious from his accent and only really becomes apparent in the drunk scene (which he otherwise plays very well). He is an honourable, generous, teetotal gentleman, so of course he is bullied and patronised by Robert Montgomery and made the butt of many of the jokes - although he is not as badly treated as the similar Ralph Bellamy character in His Girl Friday.

This movie feels like it was made by people who only knew of screwball comedies by reputation, but hadn't actually seen one. For example, a good screwball comedy has a strong central idea with a number of on-going comic threads that continually intertwine and overlap. Here, all the comedy elements are just strung out, like beads on a necklace. This is screwball comedy by the numbers.

It is the same with the direction. Typically, these comedies race along at an ever increasing pace that rises to near hysteria by the end. Hitchcock doesn't get this. His direction is somewhat lethargic and the picture becomes a stately succession of scenes that all seem slightly over-written (but under-nourished) and slightly too long. He was never a particularly good director of actors so he just lets the cast get on with it. They do OK.

Hitchcock had a good sense of humour, which he frequently used in his thrillers, but he had no feel for comedy as a genre. His later Trouble with Harry was also a misfire, for similar reasons to this movie, but at least he was involved in that picture. Here he is just going through the motions.

All the people connected with this movie were good solid professionals so it is not especially bad. It just feels a bit derivative, over-familiar, over-long and ultimately rather flat.

Mr and Mrs Smith is one for Carole Lombard fans and Hitchcock completists only.
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Weirdly Sadistic
af4010 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The big problem I had with this movie was that Lombard's character is, as another user put it, "unnecessarily cruel". Lombard plays the role of Ann Krausheimer Smith, who believes she is married to David Smith, played well by the sharply dressed yet appropriately bumbling Robert Montgomery. The movie has some funny moments, especially when Montgomery's character goes to great lengths to try to get his "wife" back. Understandably, she is upset because the marriage is technically not legal, but she only finds out three years into it.

Lombard's character seems quite cold to her "husband's" sincere attempts to woo her back. While not being highly adept in that effort, Montgomery is nevertheless visibly loving, and yet Lombard is as cool as a pillar of ice. There are almost no clues suggesting any sort of reconciliation between the warring couple for much of the movie, and it is hard to see any sort of comedy- even dark comedy- in that aspect. To some extent, the movie almost suggests a sadistic undertone, with Lombard's character getting a "kick" out of her husband's feeble efforts. While one might consider this another 'Battle of the Sexes' type of movie, the reality is that it is a highly lopsided battle, if that: Montgomery's character, while certainly flawed, is not flawed enough to make it a typical exemplar of the masculine chauvinist/misogynist (an excellent example of that is Michael Douglas in 'War of the Roses'). In fact, the character is largely effeminate, as revealed by not only the sharp dress of Montgomery (which probably owes largely to the perennially sharply dressed actor himself), but also to his discomfort in attempting-but failing- to play the role of a womanizing bachelor. His only major flaw is his vanity, but that fault does not balance out with his partner's excessive cruelty. And there is no suggestion that she is trying to instill any jealousy out of subconscious love. This is what makes it so cruel, and sad. Montgomery's character simply looks weak. In reality, no wife would want a man so weak unless she "wears the pants" in the marriage. But then again, a woman who wears the pants in a marriage would never seek to be so cruel because she has already affirmed that role early on. Hence, the whole theme seems weird. This movie is neither a champion of feminism (Lombard's character does show some signs of the sort of independent-oriented woman of the 60s, but that idea is soon quashed and the character falls back into the 1940s), nor an even-sided battle of the sexes (as Montgomery's character is truly a cipher of masculinity and therefore a lost cause).

This movie is, on the surface, a slapstick, but beneath that veneer it is really much darker, with sadistic undertones. All of which makes its resolution appear, well, odd. (Maybe that oddity was the whole point?). In any case, slapstick this movie is not.
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lesser Hitchcock
tday-118 May 2005
Hitch claimed he only directed the script as written as he had no feel for the material. It's an OK comedy but did anyone else notice how annoying Carole Lombard's character is? Even the people around her are a bit offbeat. She is so annoying shrill and dreary one wonders why Robert Montgomery is working so hard to get her back. Alright for your Hitch collection but not really a fantastic film. It's a look back into the social mores of yesterday as Montgomery exposes Carole as a married woman so the store she's employed at fires her as it's the store's policy not to employ married women. One wishes the characters could have been played a little more warmly instead of the tart,sharp way they were directed by Hitchcock. Since he wasn't crazy about the project,he might have injected a bit more cynicism than he thought.
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The Funny Side of Hitch
kenjha2 August 2009
In this comedy, a couple married for three years discovers that its marriage is not legal due to a technicality. A curiosity in Hitchcock's filmography, but the Master of Suspense shows a fine sense of comedy, not surprising given the effective use of comic elements in his suspense films. Montgomery shows a nice comedic flair while Lombard, in her penultimate role, once again demonstrates why she was the premier comedienne of her era. A highlight is the dinner scene where Montgomery tries to make Lombard jealous by pretending to be talking to an attractive woman seated next to him. The script runs out of steam towards the end, but it's generally enjoyable.
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One of Hitchcock's worst films
Martin Bradley14 August 2005
Alfred Hitchcock made this comedy of mis-marriage in 1941 but his heart doesn't appear to be in it. Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery are the couple who discover they were never legally married and spend the movie bickering their way back to true love. It doesn't have much of a reputation and it is easy to see why. The jokes are familiar from better films but here they don't gel. And the leads are uncharismatic. Lombard's performance is clipped and starchy and it's doubly sad to think she was dead only a year later. Robert Montgomery seems to know he's in a sow's ear and tries his damnest to make a silk purse out of it without much success. The best performance comes from Gene Raymond as 'the other man', (he has a lovely drunk scene). This is one of the few really bad Hitchcock films.
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Some golden moments but just doesn't work as a film
simon_acors14 August 2005
Even the talents of Lombard, Montgomery and Raymond can't really save this Hitchcock screwball comedy-curio. Some scenes are priceless - the scene in the Florida Bar where Robert Montgomery tries to make Carole Lombard jealous, and the scene where Carole Lombard gets Gene Raymond drunk are of the first rank - but more often than not the comedy falls flat. Whilst the plot of a comedy shouldn't have to bear too much scrutiny it should have its basis in truth, and unfortunately, here the characters fail to convince; in fact they become rather irritating and dislike-able. With Hitchcock directing and such a stunning ensemble of actors on show this has all the feel of a missed opportunity - its sum never fulfilling the promise of its parts. Shame. Though maybe worth watching just to see Lombard et al, strut their stuff.
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Mediocre Screwball
aberlour3625 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This screwball comedy is notable not for Alfred Hitchcock; his presence is virtually invisible. The film has any merit at all because of the fine acting of Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery. They do about all anyone could with a mediocre script by Norman Krasna. The film just isn't very funny. The quarreling couple bit wears thin very quickly, especially when you know that the two major characters will reconcile at the end. Perhaps the film needed an amusing subplot, featuring a comic sidekick or two. Gene Raymond has to play the Ralph Bellamy part as the third man, and it is far from amusing. Lombard, a great screwball comedienne and a first-rate actress, deserved a better film. She had only one more to make before her tragic death.
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I won't I won't
John Wayne Peel10 September 2007
I am astounded that so many people find this film even close to good. Let me make it clear that I am a HUGE Hitchcock fan and went out of my way to own as many of his films on video as I could but this one I felt was so below par not only for Hitch's films - aw heck, I'm being far too nice here. This pictured really sucked. I don't care that Hitch did a favor for the very talented Carole Lombard, but I have seen 50s sitcoms with more cleverness and style than this boring turkey. Chemistry between Lombard and Robert Montgomery? Listne I like mashed potatoes and ice cream but I wouldn't want to taste them together. I have seen better chemistry in chemical spills on th highway than here.

If you really love Hitchcock, avoid this film and see any one of his better ones. For crying out loud, the bits Hitch did on the old TV show were funnier than anything this film fails miserably to deliver.
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Hitch's One And Only Comedy
dougdoepke25 August 2016
A married couple (Montgomery & Lombard) suddenly find out they're not legally married, and thanks to hubby's reckless remark, the wife decides not to make it legal. Now hubby has to work at winning her back, despite his best friend and her new independence.

Fairly amusing comedy. For me, the storyline was a little too talky, especially several later extended scenes that appear to grant actor Raymond's character more screen time. What's needed, I think, is more spark, the kind provided by Jack Carson's steam room Lothario or the lively nightclub scene that's a real hoot. Otherwise, Lombard shows her comedic skills in a rather difficult role, while Montgomery mugs it up in unMontgomery fashion. However, pity poor Gene Raymond who's stuck with a boring role that appears out of sync for a comedy with the exception of his one well-done drunk scene. Overall, this sophisticated farce is a little too smooth and polished to really impress. And, despite scripter Krasna's many crafty innuendos, likely over-written, as well. Nonetheless, many amusing moments do remain. It's just not front-rank or what we might expect from an all-time great like Hitchcock. Rather, Hitch excelled at amusing moments, but as this effort shows, comedy as a format was not his world-class strength.
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Hitchcock isn't the master of screwball comedies.
moimoichan615 January 2007
"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is one of the not too well known early American Hitchcock's movie. But if "Lifeboat" (wich unfortunately also belongs to this category) is an underrated masterpiece, not all the movies signed by the master of suspense in that time (the early 40's) are really worth seeing. And to tell the truth, not discovering this film isn't really a lost.

"Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is an average and conventional screwball comedy, where it's rather hard to find the Hitchcock's touch. Maybe you can catch a glimpse of his shadow (wich isn't much) in the cruelty that Carole Lombard is sometime capable of (but it's well hidden in an impersonal package), in a vertigo scene where two of the characters are trapped on top of a trade fair attraction, and maybe in the character of the mother. And that's about it ! Even for the Hitchcock fan, there is little to connect with.

And for the screwball comedies amateur, there isn't very much more: none of the situation are exaggerated enough for being really funny, and we're far from the masterpieces of Hawks for instance. And if one or two scene are quite amusing, there're not even the funniest in Hitchcock's filmography, who created comical situations in almost all his movies (even "Psycho" could be considered full of very dark humor). So, there is really little to save in this movie, that can without annoying anyone (or maybe only both hardcore fans of Hitchcock and screwball comedy, who are in love with Carole Lombard), stays one of the not too well known early American Hitchcock's movie.
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Domestic Miss
Bill Slocum10 October 2009
Perhaps the wildest outlier in Alfred Hitchcock's career is this straight-out comedy vehicle by the director, pairing Carole Lombard with Robert Montgomery as a couple who discover a mistake has invalidated their marriage. Where do they really stand with each other?

Contrary to what others say, there IS an element of suspense here: The idea that these two miserable people might escape each other, free to inflict their awfulness on some other, undeserving mate.

It's funny reading comments here about how miserable Lombard's Ann Smith plays out in this film, because Montgomery's role is as much of a heel. He manhandles Ann, snaps at witnesses, short-shrifts clients - just the kind of lawyer who gives his profession a bad name. Ann is overbearing, too, of course, the kind of wife who holds her husband hostage from work for six days over a petty squabble, bringing up things like what he did in Paris when he was 20 and hadn't even met her yet. "I forgave you that!" she says, as if it was big of her.

For David, a revoked marriage is an opportunity to have a little illicit pleasure with his "mistress" before tying the knot for good. For Ann, it's an attempt at premarital sex that must be repelled with a bottle of champagne to the head, followed by expulsion from their apartment and her life.

The acorn doesn't seem to fall far from the tree, as Ann's mother is scandalized into apoplexy when she learns what David tried to pull: "Oh my poor baby! Thank Heaven your father is dead!"

That's a rare good line in this laughless, unlikeable comedy.

You can call this an example of the "remarriage comedy", in which the bonds of matrimony are challenged in order to be reaffirmed. You can also call this an example of what Roger Ebert calls the "idiot plot", in which the storyline depends on the main characters acting like idiots. Hitchcock seems to have a laugh at uptight American morality, but can't really do much more with it than a jokeless scene where an older couple is scandalized by the sound of loud plumbing.

Lombard died within a year of this film's release; it was the last film of hers she lived to see. What a shame it couldn't have been something better! She was overbearing in "My Man Godfrey", too, but in such a likable way you didn't just have to go with her, you wanted to. Here she plays for laughs that aren't there while sadistically breaking David's chops again and again. Montgomery rolls his eyes a lot like Groucho, a study in smugitude.

The only really decent thing in this movie that lasts more than a few seconds is Gene Raymond as David's law partner Jeff Custer, who makes a play for Ann and acts with honor and decency. Raymond underplays his many reaction shots, and even a drunk scene, all to good effect.

***SPOILER***So decent a guy is Jeff that Ann ends up rejecting him for not fighting David after she goads him into a confrontation, calling Custer "a lump of jelly". Jeff exits the scene, leaving Ann and David together for their future murder-suicide. Here's one Custer that managed to escape a massacre!***SPOILER END***
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Elegant and Empty
David (Handlinghandel)14 December 2004
What more can be said about any Hitchcock movie? He's been interviewed, reviewed, and analyzed possibly more than any other director and more will surely follow.

This peculiar entry stars two performers I don't much like: Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard. Nevertheless, watching it for the first time in at least ten years, I tried to keep an open mind, and did, really.

It's a romantic comedy -- not quite a screwball comedy -- like many that preceded and came after it. Myrna Loy and William Powell did a lot of them. This one is beautifully filmed and is directed in a precise fashion It may be too precise. Nothing seems left to chance, which is not always ideal for a comedy.

The plot is a trifle improbable. If these two people are so madly, zanily ion love when we meet them, why would a casual interchange followed by the circumstance of a technicality in their marriage vows rend them so far asunder? It's cite but not worth a lot of time and I doubt I will ever need to see it again.
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Silly, Naive and Completely Dated
Claudio Carvalho29 August 2006
I am a great fan of the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, but the comedy "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is not a good movie, indeed it is a great deception. In 2006, it is silly, naive and completely dated. The characters are simply awful: Mrs. Ann Krausheimer Smith (Carole Lombard) is a ridiculous bitch; Mr. David Smith (Robert Montgomery) is a sucker cheated husband without any self-respect and without knowing his wife and his own partner (his "friend" since elementary or high-school); and Jeff Custer (Gene Raymond) is a scum, betraying his old friend in a very sordid way. Therefore, the three lead characters have extremely unpleasant personalities. The motive for the separation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is horrible. The best scene in the movie is when Mr. Smith is in the club pretending to be speaking with a beautiful woman, it is really very hilarious. I saw this terrible movie on DVD on 31 January 2006 and I have no intention to see it again, but I respect other opinions. Unfortunately, the opposite does not happen with a silly fan of this movie. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Sr. e Sra. Smith" ("Mr. And Mrs. Smith")
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Hitch doing screwball comedy?
Jem Odewahn24 March 2006
Yes, this is an Alfred Hitchcock film, albeit a very different one. The Master of Suspense crosses over to the screwball comedy genre in the 1941 film 'Mr and Mrs Smith'. It's an interesting, yet ultimately flawed exercise.

Hitch filmed 'Mr and Mrs Smith' primarily because of his desire to work with the lovely Carole Lombard. She herself desperately wanted to work with Hitch, though not in a suspense film. He obliged with this piece, also starring comedy regular Robert Montgomery.

The somewhat convoluted plot has Montgomery and Lombard as husband-and-wife David and Ann Smith. One fine day Lombard questions Montgomery over the dinner table with the line 'If you had it all to do over again, would you still have married me?' His reply of 'Honestly, no' is not what she had been expecting. Coincedentally, on the same day David and Ann discover that, due to a technical glitch, they aren't really married after all. Like all, screwball set-ups, havoc quickly ensues.

The problem with Mr and Mrs Smith is that too many jokes simply fall flat on their face. The film does not have enough gags that truly work, with only a few moments that gain a genuine smile. Also, Lombard's character is also portrayed at many times as being unnecessarily cruel. Overall, Lombard and Montgomery play their roles very well, Lombard shines as usual, but the magic just isn't there. There a few good scenes, and probably the funniest is when Montgomery tries to make Lombard jealous in a restaurant.

It's remarkable that this is a Hitchcock film- it feels so American in style. A fun side point to note is that this film contains possibly the first Italian 'Pizza-Pasta' joint in America ever to be put on film.

It's a tragedy that Carole died the following year in a plane crash. She was a great comedic actress who may have blossomed into one of Hitchcock's 'cool blondes' in a suspense film. She certainly had the potential.

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"If you had to do it all over again…"
Steffi_P15 February 2009
This was Hitchcock's third Hollywood feature, and it appears he was yet to settle into a pattern of consistency, turning from faithful adaptation of classic novel in Rebecca, to espionage thriller in Foreign Correspondent, and now this romantic comedy in the mould of the "screwball" pictures of the 1930s.

Hitchcock's formal method, on the other hand, had by now settled into something consistent, so much so that he was unable (or at least unwilling) to deviate from it. It was unwise then for him to step outside his usual genre, and a romantic comedy was particularly inappropriate. In Rebecca it was actually great to see Hitchcock constrained by his producer and the source text, forced to turn his technique to heavy Gothic drama, but for Mr and Mrs Smith there is a huge mismatch between form and content. In other words, Hitchcock was no Ernst Lubitsch.

First, let's look at the romantic angle. The best love scenes in Hitchcock films were wild, passionate and slightly dangerous – the "ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have?" situation, and he was great at depicting that. This is something that makes a much earlier film, Rich and Strange, one of the few Hitchcock non-thrillers that really works. Hitch is not so good however when it comes to a more gentle and familiar love story. A light, tender touch is required and Hitch doesn't have it.

Secondly, take the comedy. Of course, Hitchcock films could be funny – The Lady Vanishes is probably the best example – but only when the jokes were sprinkled throughout the story. The master of suspense simply isn't enough of a comedy director to create a film that has funny bones. He cuts up scenes as he would in a thriller – snappy opposing angles of people talking, inserted close-ups of hands and feet, point-of-view shots – but doesn't allow for comic timing or focus on gags. For example, the business with Carole Lombard's dress bursting at the seems is shown to us with a couple of close-ups, but these are timed more as if he were revealing some crucial plot point, and have no comedic impact. Occasionally Hitchcock's style does roughly coincide with the comedy – for example the arrangement of characters in the scene at the club, where Robert Montgomery tries to make it look as if he is with the attractive, sophisticated woman at the next table – but such moments are few and far between.

Even the cast of Mr and Mrs Smith are not up to standard. I'm not sure this was Robert Montgomery's strength lay, and he is boring here. This was of course exactly where "Queen of Screwball" Carole Lombard's strength lay, and yet while she is clearly acting well the scenes are simply not geared to capturing comedy performances. Even Jack Carson, who could be hilarious when he was really allowed to let go before the camera, fails to perk things up at all. Of course, neither of these fine comedy actors is helped by the screenplay, which isn't exactly bursting with laughs in the first place, even if the basic story is a fairly good premise.

The only full-on comedy Hitchcock made after this was the Trouble with Harry, and that sort of worked because it played upon his familiar suspensefulness. However it was only when the story could exist independently of the humour, when the basic framework was suspense – as it is in The Lady Vanishes or Family Plot – that Hitchcock was capable of doing comedy well.
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