The Palm Beach Story (1942)

Passed  |   |  Romance, Comedy  |  7 November 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 8,073 users  
Reviews: 88 user | 60 critic

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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Cast overview, first billed only:
J.D. Hackensacker III
Sig Arno ...
Robert Warwick ...
Mr. Hinch
Arthur Stuart Hull ...
Mr. Osmond
Torben Meyer ...
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
Roscoe Ates ...
Fourth Member Ale and Quail Club (as Rosco Ates)
Dewey Robinson ...
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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Romance | Comedy


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 November 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Palm Beach történet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In-joke: The character John D. Hackensacker performs the song "Goodnight Sweetheart", associated in the 1930s with Rudy Vallee who plays the part. See more »


When John finally introduces himself to Gerry, he is holding his book up, but in the next cut it is in his lap. See more »


Gerry Jeffers: Thank you for your chivalry.
Train Porter: Anytime from 8 to 12.
See more »


Listen to the Mockingbird
(1855) (uncredited)
Music by Richard Milburn
Lyrics by Septimus Winner
(Published under the name Alice Hawthorne)
Sung offscreen by the Ale and Quail Club members
See more »

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User Reviews

Sturges' Best: Funny, Sophisticated & Well-Studied by Billy Wilder
14 August 2000 | by See all my reviews

When commenting on a film as brilliantly constructed and deeply entertaining as The Palm Beach Story, it's hard to know just where to start.

Do you tip your hat to the uniformly wonderful performers?

Do you pay tribute to the bizarre and hilarious conversations held by the Weenie King (Robert Dudley), an incidental character who manages to be a lot more than a mere plot contrivance?

Do you mention the fact that the film was clearly an influence upon the (slightly superior) screwball classic Some Like It Hot?

Nope. You just say, Preston Sturges was a genius and this is his best film.

Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert) has decided that she needs to divorce her husband Tom (Sturges regular Joel McCrea). Why? We're not quite sure. Perhaps she's looking for thrills, perhaps she simply wants a partner who can pay the rent and perhaps she's truly come to believe that she no longer loves him. No matter. Her mind is made up and there's nothing Tom can do about it. Try as he might, Gerry slips through his fingers and ends up on a train to Palm Beach, the divorce capital of the world.

Echoes of Some Like first appear on the train ride when Gerry finds herself unable to sleep do to the racket being caused by The Ale and Quail Club. It's bad enough when they start shooting out windows, and what comes next... let's just say that it's a lot funnier than it would be if it happened in real life.

Still, Gerry makes it to Palm Beach, in the company of nutty millionaire John D. Hackensacker (Rudy Vallee). Things only get really out of hand once Tom arrives and becomes pegged as a bachelor, Captain McGlew. And spoil more of the plot for you I will not.

Sturges was capable of operating in many modes: responsible and patriotic (Sullivan's Travels) and outrageously madcap (The Miracle of Morgan's Creek) are two that come to mind. But Palm Beach shares its elegance, wit and reserve with The Lady Eve, in which con artist Barbara Stanwyck sets her sights on absent-minded professor Henry Fonda. (Even the mistaken identity plot is similar upon examination).

Between the two, Eve may end on a slightly more graceful note, but Beach seems to be made with a bit more... well, experience. Sturges seems at his most relaxed throughout the film and it does a world of good. (The story is bogged down only by brief moments of racism early on). And leaving, it's hard not to feel sunny and refreshed.

For those in need of a vacation, I recommend a stay at Palm Beach. And the rest of you should come along as well.

41 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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