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If You Could Only Cook (1935)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance | 30 December 1935 (USA)
An executive lets an attractive cook talk him into taking a job as butler.


William A. Seiter


Howard J. Green (screen play), Gertrude Purcell (screen play) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Herbert Marshall ... Jim Buchanan
Jean Arthur ... Joan Hawthorne
Leo Carrillo ... Mike Rossini
Lionel Stander ... Flash
Alan Edwards Alan Edwards ... Bob Reynolds
Frieda Inescort ... Evelyn Fletcher (as Frieda Inescourt)
Gene Morgan ... Al
Ralf Harolde ... Swig
Matt McHugh Matt McHugh ... Pete
Richard Powell Richard Powell ... Chesty


Auto magnate James Buchanan has a fiancée who doesn't love him and a board of directors who won't listen to him. Brooding on a park bench, he meets unemployed Joan Hawthorne, a fine cook who needs a partner to apply for a 'couple' butler/cook job with gourmet ex-bootlegger Mike Rossini. Bemused, Buchanan goes along with the gag, taking lessons from his own butler. But there's sure to be a day of reckoning... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He gave up millions for her! She gave up a park-bench for him! (original glass-slide) See more »


Comedy | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

30 December 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Búsquenme una novia See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In order to cash in on Frank Capra's popularity in England, Columbia Pictures released this film in London as "A Frank Capra Production, produced by Frank Capra." Capra, who had never even seen the film, was furious. This led to a bitter year-long dispute between head of Columbia Harry Cohn and Capra, who sued the studio for libel. It almost cost Cohn his job and almost resulted in Capra leaving the studio. It was resolved when Cohn relented and promised to buy for Capra the rights to the play "You Can't Take It with You" for $200,000, and pay him some back salary if he would drop the suit. Capra did. See more »


Mike Rossini: You know, I had a hunch you wasn't married. That's why I made a play for you. And I still think you're pretty swell.
Joan Hawthorne: You make it very difficult for me to stay, sir, unless you treat me like a cook.
Mike Rossini: Well, I don't want to treat you like a no cook. I want to treat you like you was a, well, like you was a Mrs. Rossini. Yes, I"m a proposing to you. When I make up my mind, I make it up fast.
Joan Hawthorne: Oh, you really don't mean that Mr. Rossini. I'm afraid your stomach's gotten the better of your heart.
See more »


Featured in The Lady with the Torch (1999) See more »


The Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Played on piano at the wedding rehearsal
See more »

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User Reviews

nice Capra film
9 January 2013 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"If You Could Only Cook" is a small film apparently credited to Frank Capra at one point but actually not by Capra, made in 1935, and it stars Herbert Marshall, Jean Arthur, Lionel Stander and Leo Carillo. Carillo was the Cisco Kid's sidekick Pancho on the TV series that boomers may remember; and Lionel Stander's unmistakable voice will be remembered from the Robert Wagner TV show "Hart to Hart." This is a film made during the Depression, and it concerns a wealthy auto executive named Jim Buchanan (Herbert Marshall) who is about to be married to the right kind of woman and is dreading it. While sitting on a park bench trying to escape his board of directors and his fiancé, he meets a down to earth young woman (Jean Arthur) who is desperately looking for a job and can't find anything. Plus, she's just lost her room. She finds a job that pays well, but it's for a couple. She talks Jim into applying for it with her -- he's the butler and she's the cook in the home of a gangster (Carillo). Thanks to her sauce, she is hired. Thus begins Buchanan's double life. You can guess the rest.

A very charming movie with a delightful performance by Arthur and a good one by Marshall. It's always hard to believe that Herbert Marshall was ever a leading man given the roles he had later on, but he was a type that went out of style -- very formal, well spoken, a little stuffy, modeled on the British. Films in the '30s were often based on plays, and the plays of that era dealt with class differences.

Capra initiated a lawsuit against Columbia for crediting him with this film in England, where he was very popular, but Harry Cohn purchased "You Can't Take It With You" for him in exchange for dropping the suit. So a little film, never seen by Capra, paid him a big dividend.

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