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The Palm Beach Story (1942)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance | 1 January 1943 (USA)
An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire.




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Set to music, a symphony conductor envisions multiple possible scenarios for dealing with his wife's infidelity.

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During the Great Depression, a wealthy banker throws away his wife's expensive fur coat; it lands on the head of a stenographer, leading to everyone assuming she is his mistress and has access to his millions.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
J.D. Hackensacker III
Mr. Hinch
Arthur Stuart Hull ...
Mr. Osmond
Dr. Kluck
Jimmy Conlin ...
Mr. Asweld
Victor Potel ...
Mr. McKeewie
First Member Ale and Quail Club
Jack Norton ...
Second Member Ale and Quail Club
Robert Greig ...
Third Member Ale and Quail Club
Fourth Member Ale and Quail Club (as Rosco Ates)
Fifth Member Ale and Quail Club


Gerry and Tom Jeffers are finding married life hard. Tom is an inventor/ architect and there is little money for them to live on. They are about to be thrown out of their apartment when Gerry meets rich businessman being shown around as a prospective tenant. He gives Gerry $700 to start life afresh but Tom refuses to believe her story and they quarrel. Gerry decides the marriage is over and heads to Palm Beach for a quick divorce but Tom has plans to stop her. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 January 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Atemlos nach Florida  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Preston Sturges came up with the character of J.D. Hackensacker III by accident. He wanted to see My Life with Caroline (1941), but arrived at the theatre an hour early. With nothing better to do, he caught the tail end of the second feature, the low-budget musical Time Out for Rhythm (1941). Radio crooner Rudy Vallee was the male lead and though he was primarily straight man for all the film's jokes, every time he opened his mouth the audience roared. Sturges immediately created the role with Vallee in mind. Studio management fought casting the radio star, since his early pictures had been flops, but Sturges persisted. Even with the failed films in his past, Vallee still commanded a high fee because of his success on the radio. See more »


On the train: the men with the shotguns shoot out the glass of the same window several times. See more »


Tom Jeffers: So this fellow gave you the look?
Gerry Jeffers: At his age it was more of a blink.
Tom Jeffers: Seven hundred dollars! And sex didn't even enter into it, I suppose?
Gerry Jeffers: Sex always has something to do with it, dear.
See more »


A Hunting We Will Go
Sung by the Ale and Quail Club members as they search for Gerty in the train
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User Reviews

It's a slightly cynical screwball comedy about lust and greed.
17 September 1998 | by (Seattle) – See all my reviews

The "Palm Beach Story" has a poor title but it's a hilarious movie by the sometimes cynical master of comedy, Preston Sturges. "Palm" comes a year after Sturges far lesser comedy, "The Lady Eve", staring Stanwyck and a dull Henry Fonda. The superior comedy, "Palm," rivals the greatest screwballs like "Bringing up Baby" and "The Awful Truth" for sustained insanity and strength of characterization.

In this screwball masterpiece, the characters' flakiness is shared by the rest of their absurd world. It climaxes in a fantastic scene set on a train where an "Ale and Quale" club goes on a drunken shooting spree, forming a posse that tramps from car to car singing "A hunting we will go".

As Anthony Lane argues, "Palm" presents a realist view of the prominence of sex and greed as motivating and blinding forces. In a key scene, Colbert gives a little speech about "the look", or the copulatory gaze, that she's been getting from every man since she was 14. This movie is slightly cynical and funnier for it's richness. Comedy is set off against discussions of lost opportunity and youth. "Topic A" is what runs the world of "The Palm Beech Story", but sometimes topic B, money, is temporarily more important. After leaving her struggling husband, Gerry gets prizes from any horny man she comes in contact with: rent money from the regretful wiener king, taxi rides, a train ticket from hunters, and dresses and rubies from a millionaire. Also, the Princess has a kept pet-man who tags along as she pursues new husbands.

Sturges shares with Wilder and Allen a slighlty cynical view of human "nature". As Lane points out, they don't have a conservative Catholic view of the inherent selfishness and sinfulness of human kind, but a liberal, more Deweyan, view of human potential, slightly jaded from their experience. They are not without hope, but aware of limitation. Sturges is beyond naivete, like many of his screwball compatriots, and frankly examines weaknesses that others avoid or deny, and he criticizes conventions that supposedly created a utopia in the 1950's.

This is one of the highlights of the screwball genre that illuminatingly explores, like no other group of films, life, love, gender, sexuality, and desire in 20th century America in an endearing and always fun manner.

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