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I Take This Woman (1940)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 2 February 1940 (USA)
A doctor (Spencer Tracy) marries a suicidal woman (Hedy Lamarr) but begins to doubt her fidelity.


W.S. Van Dyke (as W.S. Van Dyke II), Frank Borzage (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


Charles MacArthur (original story), James Kevin McGuinness (screen play)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Karl Decker
Hedy Lamarr ... Georgi Gragore
Verree Teasdale ... Madame Marcesca
Kent Taylor ... Phil Mayberry
Laraine Day ... Linda Rodgers
Mona Barrie ... Sandra Mayberry
Jack Carson ... Joe
Paul Cavanagh ... Bill Rodgers
Louis Calhern ... Dr. Duveen
Frances Drake ... Lola Estermont
Marjorie Main ... Gertie
George E. Stone ... Sid
Willie Best ... Sambo
Don Castle ... Ted Fenton
Dalies Frantz ... Joe Barnes


Georgi has attempted suicide in reaction to an earlier love affair. Now that Dr. Decker has married her he sets out to get her to love him. To make enough to give her what she wants he becomes physician to the rich, abandoning his clinic services to the poor. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gentlemen of the Jury: Our case rests. The power and ability of a great studio is again revealed in the case of "I TAKE THIS WOMAN"


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »





English | Italian

Release Date:

2 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Esta mujer es mía See more »


Box Office


$1,271,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Cincinnati Monday 7 January 1957 on WXIX (Channel 19) (Newport KY); it first aired in Los Angeles 4 February 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Chicago 7 February 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 24 February 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in New Haven CT 30 March 1957 on WNHC (Channel 8), in Altoona PA 6 April 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Kansas City MO 4 May 1957 on KCMO (Channel 5), and in both Syracuse NY and Portland OR 25 May 1957 on WHEN (Channel 8) and on KGW (Channel 8) ; it was telecast in Minneapolis 9 October 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), but it was not seen in San Francisco until 17 August 1959 on KGO (Channel 7) and in New York City until 2 May 1961 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


When Georgi declines an apple from a street vendor, she says, "No, thank you very much", but her lips keep moving after the line - an obvious dub. See more »


Dr. Karl Decker: Nothing that happens is unfair.
See more »


Featured in Kisses (1991) See more »


Auld Lang Syne
Traditional Scottish music
Lyrics by Robert Burns
Sung a cappella by clinic patients at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

I TAKE THIS WOMAN (W.S. Van Dyke and, uncredited, Josef von Sternberg and Frank Borzage, 1940) **1/2
10 March 2011 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Without planning them as such, I ended up watching a Wallace Beery and Spencer Tracy double-bill on consecutive days; in fact, this follows Tracy's QUICK MILLIONS (1931) and Beery's SERGEANT MADDEN (1939) and PORT OF SEVEN SEAS (1938) – see their reviews elsewhere.

Incidentally, in my comments on MADDEN, I had written that it was Josef von Sternberg's only picture on the MGM lot but, actually, he had been entrusted with the title under review as well – only he somehow got fired…and the same fate apparently befell his replacement (Frank Borzage), since a third director (W.S. Van Dyke, here denoted as "II") ended up receiving sole credit for it! For this reason, the film is a fairly maligned one but the result is surprisingly not as despicable as I had anticipated (incidentally, my twin brother had previously watched it as a Saturday matinée' on Italian TV years ago but could not recall what he had made of the picture back then); truth be told, I had completely forgotten about the Sternberg connection but, thankfully, managed to acquire it in time for my current retrospective of that director's work.

The narrative is typical MGM 'mass appeal' fare: a romantic melodrama boasting sophisticated trimmings but maintaining a social conscience (from a story by Charles MacArthur and an uncredited Ben Hecht). A tall order, therefore, and working one's way around it would have probably defeated any film-maker (not least in the icky finale involving a number of children); given the amount of time and money spent on the production – so much so that it was derisively referred to as "I Re-Take This Woman"! – it is small wonder, then, that it eventually ended up in the lap of the legendary "One-Take" Woody (Van Dyke)! As I said, however, the film is enjoyable enough (indeed, it gets by on sheer professionalism alone!) when not lapsing into pathos (with the medical expose' at the center of the last act, it does seem like the makers were trying to bite off more than they could chew!).

Anyway, Tracy brings his customary intelligence to the fold, while leading lady Hedy Lamarr supplies the glamor (for the record, the two stars would be reteamed soon after in BOOM TOWN [1940] and, again, in TORTILLA FLAT [1942]). He is a doctor with a modest practice who runs into a lovelorn socialite aboard ship (at least in this the picture resembles Sternberg's THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK [1928], with which it also happens to share cinematographer Harold Rosson!). Their life together is fraught with complications relating, first and foremost, to her persistent attachment to a married gigolo (played by the bland Kent Taylor, replacing Walter Pidgeon!) but also his 'defection' to an upper-crust hospital; incidentally, Sternberg's appointment would seem to have aimed at endowing Lamarr with a Dietrich-like mystique (a vaguely weird scene has the woman's lover keep a private shrine in her honor!). The supporting cast is notable too: Verree Teasdale (as Lamarr's fashion-designer best friend, a garrulous sort in the Rosalind Russell vein), Paul Cavanaugh (forever epitomizing high society), Frances Drake (from MAD LOVE [1935], as the latter's alluring but venomous companion), Laraine Day (from SERGEANT MADDEN, as his rebellious daughter), Louis Calhern (as Tracy's unscrupulous boss when he comes up in the world), Jack Carson (as one of his many patients – despite a one-shot appearance, his credit suggests much of the role ended up on the cutting-room floor!) and Willie Best (again, a stereotyped characterization as the hero's lazy black janitor Sambo!).

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