Over 21 (1945)

 |  Comedy  |  8 August 1945 (USA)
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A woman screenwriter lives in a shabby bungalow in order to be near her husband, a 39-year-old newspaper editor who has just joined the army.



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Cast overview:
Robert Drexel Gow
Jeff Donnell ...
Jan Lupton
Loren Tindall ...
Lt. Roy Lupton
Lee Patrick ...
Phil Brown ...
Frank MacDougal
Cora Witherspoon ...
Mrs. Gates
Charles Evans ...
Colonel Foley


Max Wharton, 39, is the editor of the New York Bulletin -- or he was, until he announces that he's quitting to join the army. Robert Gow, who owns the paper, is furious. But Wharton wants more than anything to be close to the war. And his wife, Polly, wants to be close to him. And so she finishes up her latest movie script, and follows her husband to live near the barracks. She lives in a bungalow with no shower, lights that you have to turn on and off from the outside, a refrigerator that makes a hideous noise when she's lucky (that means it's working), moths and other niceties. Meanwhile, Max, studying hard for his exams, is starting to believe the saw that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis







Release Date:

8 August 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Addio vent'anni  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original Broadway play opened on January 3, 1944 with Ruth Gordon in the lead. See more »


When Polly (Irene Dunne) is writing columns for Max (Alexander Knox) while he's busy attending classes and studying, one of the columns has a typo in the title - "Victory is What You You Make It." See more »


[first lines]
Robert Drexel Gow: My editor! My paper! And this is how he tells me!
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User Reviews

war film
7 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Over 21" stars Alexander Knox, Irene Dunne, Charles Coburn, and Jeff Donnell in a wartime story based on a Broadway play written by and starring Ruth Gordon. Gordon joined husband Garson Kanin when he joined the service and the play is inspired by that experience.

Here, Knox plays the 39-year-old newspaper editor Max Wharton, who feels that he can't write about the war unless he gets into the fray himself. His boss, Robert Gow (Charles Coburn) has a fit and so does his wife Paula (Dunne) but he insists. Paula gets housing in a broken-down bungalow so she can be closer to him. Max, meanwhile, is having a tough time. There are lots of tests, and there is a theory that people "over 21" can't absorb anything. Also his boss keeps calling, intending to pressure him to return to the paper as he is needed. Paula keeps Gow from talking to Max, but acts as if Max has agreed to write editorials. She then, under the guise of working on a screenplay, writes them herself.

This is an okay movie, if somewhat frantic. Dunne always had a wonderful style and a flair for comedy. She does a good job here but it almost seems as if she's working too hard. She has a huge part and she's not really surrounded by people as good as she is at comedy, so perhaps that's why. Knox gives an excellent speech at the end of the film.

"Over 21" is enjoyable, it's pleasant, it's no great guns, but the speech at the end is inspired.

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