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The More the Merrier (1943)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance, War | 13 May 1943 (USA)
During the World War II housing shortage in Washington, two men and a woman share a single apartment and the older man plays Cupid to the other two.



(screen play), (screen play) | 4 more credits »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
... Connie Milligan
... Joe Carter
... Benjamin Dingle
... Charles J. Pendergast
... FBI Agent Evans
... FBI Agent Pike
... FBI Agent Harding (as Don Douglas)
Clyde Fillmore ... Senator Noonan
... Morton Rodakiewicz


It's World War II and there is a severe housing shortage everywhere - especially in Washington, D.C. where Connie Milligan rents an apartment. Believing it to be her patriotic duty, Connie offers to sublet half of her apartment, fully expecting a suitable female tenent. What she gets instead is mischievous, middle-aged Benjamin Dingle. Dingle talks her into subletting to him and then promptly sublets half of his half to young, irreverent Joe Carter - creating a situation tailor-made for comedy and romance. Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Home is where you hang your guests! See more »


Comedy | Romance | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Merry-Go-Round  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jean Arthur was getting into trouble with Columbia Pictures because she kept turning down roles. Rather embarrassed about this, she contacted her friend Garson Kanin and asked him to pen her something that she could take to the studio. Kanin was out of work at the time and readily accepted her proposal which Arthur ended up paying for out of her own pocket. See more »


Connie is in Mr. Dingles room having a discussion. They are both in pajamas. The top button of Connie's PJ top is unbuttoned. As she turns to her left to go to the next room the top button is buttoned and there are no gaps between buttons as before. Clearly not enough "real time" to have fixed it. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: Our vagabond camera takes us to beautiful Washington, D.C., the national capital of our United States, situated on the broad banks of the Potomac River. Living is pleasant and leisurely... for it is a city of formality and custom. Manners and courtesy are responsible for the well-ordered conduct of its daily affairs. The many fine restaurants of Washington are the delight of the epicurean and the gourmet, where one may enjoy to the full the rare dishes of the old south. ...
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Referenced in I Know Who Killed Me (2007) See more »


The Torpedo Song
(Published as "Damn the Torpedos-Full Speed Ahead")
Music by Jay Gorney
Lyrics by Henry Myers & Edward Eliscu
Recited often by Charles Coburn (uncredited)
Sung by Coburn and other members of the Committee at the end
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User Reviews

"Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead"
31 May 2007 | by See all my reviews

In her one and only recognition of sorts from the Motion Picture Academy, Jean Arthur got a nomination for Best Actress for The More the Merrier, a screwball comedy based on the housing shortage in Washington, DC. It was a tough field with veteran players like Greer Garson for Madame Curie, Ingrid Bergman for Casablanca, and Joan Fontaine for the Constant Nymph. But a fresh faced newcomer with only two previous film credits under a different and real name of Phyllis Isley copped the big prize. Spiritual and ethereal beat out funny and sentimental that year as Jennifer Jones won for The Song of Bernadette.

Arthur's well known stage fright manifested itself in non-cooperation with those that give out the awards. There are all kinds of Jean Arthur stories about her running and hiding from fans, her getting physically sick before shooting a scene and then giving a great performance, her total non-cooperation with the press that covers the film industry. It didn't redound to her benefit at Oscar time. Still The More the Merrier is one of her great roles.

My mother's older sister was also one of those government girls who went to work for a flock of new agencies that sprung up during World War II. The country and its people were mobilized to a degree never seen before or since. Would that this president could show the leadership now that FDR showed then against a group of people who would destroy our way of life.

My aunt met her husband in Washington who was deferred from military service because of tuberculosis he had suffered. If she were alive she could attest to the things shown in The More the Merrier. Washington, DC simply did not have the housing available for all the folks now working in the capital.

Jean Arthur is one of those women and to show her patriotic spirit she offers to take in a roommate for splitting the rent. She gets quite a roommate in Charles Coburn, a millionaire who's been caught without a reservation at a hotel.

Coburn was the only one who took home an Oscar from The More the Merrier as Best Supporting Actor. He's one roguish grandfatherly type who decides Arthur needs some male involvement even though she has an engagement of sorts to bureaucrat Richard Gaines. If he was 30 years younger he'd do the deed himself.

So when homeless soldier to be Joel McCrea shows up, Coburn gets his matchmaking skills honed to a fine edge. Dolly Levy could have learned from this man.

McCrea was at the high point of his career, he was taking a break from westerns and doing some of the best comedies around with Preston Sturges and this one with George Stevens. This was his third and final film with Jean Arthur. He had done the Silver Horde a Victorian melodrama with Arthur as the other woman and Adventures in Manhattan where he was miscast. This one however was a winner in every way for him.

Best scene in the film is after Coburn as sublets half of his half of Arthur's apartment to McCrea and they haven't broken the news to Arthur yet. He gets into the shower and while some of us sing, McCrea likes to imitate a seal. Arthur's expressions on hearing the seal noises is priceless.

The More the Merrier got a remake in the Sixties with Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar and Cary Grant in his final film in the Charles Coburn part. It was good, but not nearly as good as the original.

Don't believe me, see both and compare.

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