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If You Could Only Cook (1935)

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
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 »


Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Written by Richard Wagner
Played on piano by Walter Byron at the wedding rehearsal
Reprised by the band at the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

Cooking For Employment and Husband Catching
16 January 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

If You Could Only Cook had been made over at MGM, Jean Arthur would have had her pick of leading men like Robert Montgomery, William Powell, Robert Young, or Franchot Tone all of who might have been a bit more believable as the auto tycoon who gets tired of his stuffy board of directors and walks out on them. As it was Columbia Harry Cohn got her Herbert Marshall is far better cast in more mature parts like in The Little Foxes or the head of MI5 in The List of Adrian Messenger. He really hasn't the touch for light fare like If You Could Only Cook.

That's what happens to Marshall though, he walks out on his board of directors and a week before his wedding to Frieda Inescourt who's from a family with an old name, but no dough. On the park bench he runs into Jean Arthur who is one of the great mass of unemployed. They get to talking about food and Arthur sees in the want ads one for a married couple to be cook and butler on an estate. On a whim as these things are in screwball comedies, Marshall and her agree to pose as husband and wife.

What they don't know is that who's hiring them is gangster Leo Carrillo who's particular about his food. Not unusual because if you remember Goodfellas the wise guys in stir were very particular about their food and were rich enough to buy what they want in the joint. Carrillo's number two, Lionel Stander, thinks these two just don't sound right.

The rest of the film is the normal antics of mistaken identities and mistaken motives and finding out who really loves who after all. It's not a bad film, but not particularly a memorable one.

But If You Could Only Cook attained a status way beyond its own importance in film history by becoming the object of a fraud perpetrated on the foreign markets by Harry Cohn. Seems as though when the film reached Europe, Cohn advertised it in the foreign markets as being a Frank Capra Production. When Capra found out about it, he went ballistic and ultimately his connection with Columbia was severed.

The story is described in great detail in Capra's memoirs and the whole saga is a great example of the power those studios had back when they were at their height.

In fact that whole story might make a great movie.

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