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She Couldn't Say No (1954)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 15 February 1954 (USA)
As usual with most of the RKO films from this era "presented" by RKO-owner Howard Hughes, the PCA number is usually 500-1000 digits lower than the one from other studios being released at ... See full summary »



(screenplay) (as D. D. Beauchamp), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Doctor Robert Sellers
Korby Lane
Odie Chalmers
Ed Meeker
Joe Wheelen
Raymond Walburn ...
Judge Hobart
Jimmy Hunt ...
Ralph Dumke ...
Hope Landin ...
Miss McMurtry
Gus Schilling ...
Ed Gruman
Eleanor Todd ...
Sally Watson
Pinky Tomlin ...
Elmer Wooley


As usual with most of the RKO films from this era "presented" by RKO-owner Howard Hughes, the PCA number is usually 500-1000 digits lower than the one from other studios being released at the time, indicating it was released a year or more after it was completed. This one finds heiress Corby Lane (Jean Simmons) coming to a small Arkansas town to play Santa Claus because, when she was a small child traveling with her impoverished father, the townspeople saved her life by donating money needed for medical treatment. She meets and falls in love with "Doc" Sellers (Robert Mitchum), an easy-going doctor who enjoys fishing and the unhurried pace of the town. Corby's gesture of handing out money and lavish gifts to the citizens backfires when, after it has been publicized, the town becomes the destination of every wayward traveler and fortune seeker. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Plot Keywords:

fishing | heiress | gift | doctor | diaper | See All (29) »


Comedy | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 February 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

She Had to Say Yes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Odie Chalmers: As sheriff of this county, I arrest you on three counts: count o' you parked your car in the bus space; count of assault and battery and count of you ain't no account
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User Reviews

A Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear
6 February 2013 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

This is one of those films which, for some reason or other, have become known by two quite different titles, in this case "She Couldn't Say No" and "Beautiful but Dangerous". To add to the confusion, it is not the only film to be known by either of those titles. There were three other films made between 1930 and 1940 entitled "She Couldn't Say No", the first of which (now believed lost) was made by the same director, Lloyd Bacon. Despite the coincidence, however, this film is not a remake of the 1930 one; indeed, it does not have any connection, as far as plot is concerned, with any of its namesakes. A Franco-Italian co-production from 1955, only a year after this film, is known as "Beautiful but Dangerous" in English, even though this is not an exact translation of either its French or Italian titles.

The film is set in the (fictitious) small town of Progress, Arkansas, population 200. (In America it would seem that no settlement, however insignificant, is happy to be referred to as a village, except perhaps in New England where the term "village" is thought to confer the sort of olde-worlde rustic charm that is good for the tourist trade). Corby Lane, a wealthy heiress, visits the town in order to express her gratitude to its residents, who had paid for a critical medical operation for her when she was a child. (In the IMDb cast-list her Christian name is spelt "Korby", but this is clearly an error as a set of monogrammed luggage bearing the initials "CL" plays an important part in the plot). Corby decides to help the local people by giving them money anonymously, but things do not turn out as she had planned. A romance also develops between Corby and the local doctor, Robert Sellers.

I watched the film because it features two major stars, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, but neither is at their best here. Mitchum was generally better in serious dramas, notably films noirs and Westerns; in comedies he could be too laid-back, and here he just seems content to stroll through the film without taking anything seriously. Jean Simmons could be better as a comic actress, but here she appears to be trying too hard to impersonate Audrey Hepburn, who had made a huge impression in her Hollywood debut the previous year in "Roman Holiday". There was, granted, a certain physical resemblance between Simmons and Hepburn, but Simmons here tries to imitate not only Hepburn's hairstyle but also her characteristic gestures, mannerisms and even voice, and her performance (predictably) ends up looking and sounding forced and artificial.

The main supporting actor is Arthur Hunnicutt who, as he normally did, plays a crusty old Deep South rustic with a thick accent virtually incomprehensible to anyone living on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, it is probably equally incomprehensible to anyone from any part of America apart from Arkansas and the adjacent states. Hunnicutt played an almost identical character in "The French Line" (also directed by Bacon) the previous year; although he was only in his early forties at the time his characters seem much older. Corby is supposed to be American by birth, but the explanation is given that she was educated in Britain, thus accounting for Simmons' accent. Hunnicutt's character Odie, however, assumes that she is from Boston; the difference between British accents and certain East-coast American ones is not as clear-cut as we like to imagine. (I myself have been taken for a New Englander while travelling in one Western state).

This was to be Bacon's last film - he died the following year- and I doubt if it is really the film he would have wished to be remembered by. It has been suggested on this board that it might have been better if it had been made by another director such as Frank Capra, but any director is only as good as his material, and the truth is that Bacon is here trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The basic idea could have been a good one, but it would have required a much funnier script; the one we actually have is leaden and humourless, with very few laughs to be had from beginning to end. When an inadequate script is combined with two below-par acting performances, the result is generally a predictably poor movie. 4/10 .

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