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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Husband and Wife Can't Hate Each Other, No Matter How Hard They Try
"The Palm Beach Story" is a lopsided comedy (part of it's funny and part of it's not), but the movie is back-ended with all of the funniest bits, so it allows you to forget the slower parts and it sends you out on a high.
After a sensationally bizarre opening credits sequence, the movie settles down into a slightly less zingy version of "The Awful Truth." Claudette Colbert thinks her marriage to Joel McCrea isn't working, even though he doesn't think likewise. She thinks she's not a capable enough wife; he thinks he's a failure as a man and husband. She takes off for Palm Beach to get a divorce despite all of his attempts to stop her. On the train to Florida, she meets a wealthy tycoon who wants to marry her and give her everything she could possibly want, but she realizes that what she really wants is her husband.
This is all told with a lot of wit and flair. The early scenes with Colbert and McCrea drag, and an extended bit of nonsense on the train involving the Ale and Quail Hunting Club is superfluous and not very funny. But once everyone shows up in Palm Beach, the film becomes a delight, and a bonus is added in the person of Mary Astor, who plows on to the screen about half way through the film and decimates everyone in her path with her quick-tongued and hilarious performance as a rich society lady with a lot of time on her hands and her sights set on Colbert's husband.
What I liked about this film was that Colbert and McCrea don't seem to have a lot of chemistry in their early scenes together; he seems so stiff and bland, and you don't really blame her for wanting to get away. But after you've seen both of them with other people, they seem so much more right for each other when they get back together, and there's all this chemistry you didn't initially realize was there. I don't know if that's due to their performances, the writing, the directing, or whether it was just a happy accident, but it works beautifully.
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