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They Knew What They Wanted (1940)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 19 October 1940 (USA)
While courting a young woman by mail, a rich farmer sends a photograph of his foreman instead of his own, which leads to complications when she accepts his marriage proposal.

Director:

Garson Kanin

Writers:

Robert Ardrey (screenplay), Sidney Howard (from the Pulitzer Prize Play by)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carole Lombard ... Amy Peters
Charles Laughton ... Tony Patucci
William Gargan ... Joe
Harry Carey ... The Doctor
Frank Fay ... Father McKee
Joseph E. Bernard Joseph E. Bernard ... The R.F.D. (as Joe Bernard)
Janet Fox Janet Fox ... Mildred
Lee Tung Foo Lee Tung Foo ... Ah Gee, the Cook (as Lee Tung-Foo)
Karl Malden ... Red
Victor Kilian ... The Photographer
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Storyline

Tony (Charles Laughton), a successful but illiterate middle-aged grape farmer, sends the photograph of his handsome young foreman, Joe (William Gargan), instead of his own, hoping to woo and marry Amy (Carole Lombard), a waitress in a San Francisco restaurant. Through a series of letters, the two become close and Tony invites his "future wife" to visit. When the beautiful, young Amy arrives at Tony's Napa, California ranch she falls for the wrong man thinking that Joe is the wealthy Tony. When Tony tries to win her over in broken English, she is at first furious and then charmed. But Tony breaks his legs while showing off to impress Amy, and -- left alone to care for a cripple -- she reluctantly succumbs to Joe's charms and becomes pregnant. Although Tony discovers that he has been cuckolded and that Joe has run off, his anger turns to genuine love and he offers to take Amy back unconditionally for the sake of the child and his own true feelings for Amy. Written by E. Summer

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You have seen great motion pictures! We believe you have not seen a greater motion picture than this!

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

19 October 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sabían lo que querían See more »

Filming Locations:

Napa Valley, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Broadway production of They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard opened on November 24, 1924 at the Garrick Theater, ran for 192 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1925. See more »

Quotes

The Doctor: Lady, the things I don't know, you could herd like cows.
See more »

Connections

Version of Great Performances: The Most Happy Fella (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Adeste Fideles
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Roy Webb
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great Performance by Carole Lombard
5 November 2011 | by drednmSee all my reviews

This is the third filmed version of Sidney Howard's play. Previously this was filmed a THE SECRET HOUR (1928) with Pola Negri and Jean Hersholt and as A LADY TO LOVE (1930) with Vilma Banky and Edward G. Robinson.

Here, Charles Laughton plays the Italian Tony, a successful grape grower in Napa Valley. He goes to San Francisco and is smitten with a waitress named Amy (Carole Lombard) and decides to marry her. Back home he gets his pal (William Gargan) to write a letter. She answers back. Eventually they send a picture and invite her to Napa.

Unfortunately they send a picture of Gargan. But Lombard has nothing to go back to but her dreary and demeaning job so she stays. Despite her best efforts she falls for Gargan right under Robinson's nose.

Basically a love triangle story, there's enough humor to defuse the slightly clichéd story. Lombard give a great performance as the feisty Amy. Laughton is hammy and loud but a pleasure to watch. Gargan won an Oscar nomination for the hapless Joe, torn between his devotion to Tony and his love for Amy.

Supporting cast includes Harry Carey as the doctor, Frank Fay as the priest, Victor Kilian as the photographer, Janet Fox as Mildred, and the film debuts of Karl Malden and Tom Ewell.

Good location shooting in Napa Valley opens up the film and adds a nice touch.


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