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Careful, Soft Shoulders (1942)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance, War | 18 September 1942 (USA)
At a December 7, 1941 Washington cocktail party, Connie Mathew is not amused by the romantic advances of playboy Tommy Aldrich, son of an important Navy consultant. The party is shocked by ... See full summary »


Oliver H.P. Garrett (original screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Virginia Bruce ... Connie Mathers
James Ellison ... Thomas Aldrich
Aubrey Mather ... Mr. Fortune
Sheila Ryan ... Agatha Mather
Ralph Byrd ... Elliott Salmon
Sigfrid Tor Sigfrid Tor ... Milo (as Sigurd Tor)
Charles Tannen ... Joe
William B. Davidson ... Mr. Aldrich
Dale Winter ... Mrs. Ipswich


At a December 7, 1941 Washington cocktail party, Connie Mathew is not amused by the romantic advances of playboy Tommy Aldrich, son of an important Navy consultant. The party is shocked by the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Connie blithely announces she would like to serve Uncle Sam as a new version of Mata Hari. She finds Mr. Fortune waiting for her when she gets home and he introduces himself as a member of the Secret Service and asks her to join his staff. Thinking it is a practical joke by Tommy, she accepts. Fortune tells Connie her first assignment is to get friendly with Tommy, as the government suspects him of selling convoy information that he gets from his father to enemy agents. She does so, falls in love with him and finds out he is 100% loyal. Mr. Fortune takes Connie and Tommy captive. Connie's sister, Agatha, had earlier suspected Mr. Fortune and she was taken prisoner by his Axis spies. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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She'll kiss at the drop of a military secret -- and... SHE KNOWS ALL THE BEST FIRING SQUADS! See more »


Comedy | Romance | War


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User Reviews

A very interesting movie
4 March 2007 | by JohnHowardReidSee all my reviews

A very interesting movie. Screenwriter Oliver H.P. Garrett (City Streets, A Farewell to Arms, The Story of Temple Drake, Manhattan Melodrama, The Hurricane, Duel in the Sun, Dead Reckoning et al) directed only one film. This is it.

"Careful, Soft Shoulder" (the movie's correct title, an obvious pun on a commonplace roadside sign of the period) is both a fascinating and entertaining "B"-feature. Garrett's script employs a first-person narrative and his direction sometimes underlines this by the use of a first-person camera. The direction is not by any means always this imaginative, but Garrett does vary his style from sequence to sequence so that it never becomes monotonously routine.

Thus one sequence might be lensed with over-the-shoulder reverse angles between the two protagonists, while others intersperse a medium establishing shot into a waist-length two-shot. The attentive viewer will also notice the skillful use of occasional close-ups, especially towards the end of a long scene. Generally, there's a minimum of camera movement. The set-up angles are usually straightforward eye-level. When this angle is varied, it's always for a solid dramatic purpose, never for sheer ostentation. An excellent example can be found in the sequence that begins with a tilted overhead shot of Miss Bruce lying back on her bed as she talks on the phone. She kicks her slipper off and it lands on the bed beside her — an amusing little piece of business that almost justifies the tilted angle by itself. However, the camera then dollies in for a close-up as Miss Bruce moves to a crouching position and turns her head. The camera then follows the direction of her gaze, coming to rest on Mather's umbrella — which dramatic revelation is of course the complete and perfect justification both of the introductory angle and subsequent camera movement.

Garrett's screenplay takes in a lot of territory, beginning with the wartime Washington accommodation shortage, moving on to U.S. involvement in the war, and ending up with a trio of delightfully unlikely spies. Fortunately Nick De Maggio's film editing is sharp enough to give the film plenty of pace. Charles Clarke's photography shows signs of haste, but the sets are attractive and production values generally are well above average for a film of this class.

Virginia Bruce gives an excellent comedy performance as the dim-witted dupe of the delightfully, casually sinister Aubrey Mather and models an eye-catching number of fashionable Herschel costumes.

What a pity that Garrett did not pursue his career as a director! For a novice, this one shows uncommon skill. Yet here he is to some extent constrained by a limited budget. What wonders might he have performed on an "A"-feature — especially one derived from his own screenplay?

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Release Date:

18 September 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lady in a Quandry See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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