Ellen McNulty loses her hamburger joint and goes to see her son, who marries a socialite at the same time. Due to her modest background and a case of mistaken identity, Ellen poses as the newlyweds' cook.


Mitchell Leisen


Charles Brackett (written for the screen by), Walter Reisch (written for the screen by) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Tierney ... Maggie Carleton
John Lund ... Val McNulty
Miriam Hopkins ... Fran Carleton
Thelma Ritter ... Ellen McNulty
Jan Sterling ... Betsy
Larry Keating ... Mr. Kalinger, Sr.
James Lorimer James Lorimer ... George C. Kalinger, Jr.
Gladys Hurlbut ... Mrs. Conger
Cora Witherspoon ... Mrs. Williamson
Malcolm Keen ... Mr. Williamson
Ellen Corby ... Annie
Billie Bird ... Mugsy
Mary Young ... Spinster
Samuel Colt Samuel Colt ... Colonel Conger
Grayce Hampton ... Mrs. Fahnstock


Ellen McNulty leaves her New Jersey hamburger stand and heads west to pay a surprise visit to her son and his new bride. When Ellen arrives, her daughter-in-law mistakes her for the maid she has hired for a big party they are throwing. Rather than cause any embarrassment, Ellen goes along with the charade, which leads to many complications. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's a 3-Woman Honeymoon and a Thousand LAFF-RIOT See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The actor listed as James Lorimer is the same actor listed as James Larmore in the 1948 film "A Foreign Affair". See more »


Ellen McNulty: Well, who stole the meat outta her sandwich?
See more »


Je n'en Connais pas la Fin
Music by Marguerite Monnot
Lyrics by Raymond Asso
Sung by Gene Tierney and others at the party
See more »

User Reviews

Thelma's Show
7 November 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Though Gene Tierney and John Lund are the leads in this film, Thelma Ritter steals it completely as Lund's down to earth plebian mother from New Jersey. Thelma got one of her Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress, the second of six she was to earn in her career.

Mitchell Leisen directs this charming comedy about a pair of sudden newlyweds, she a débutante and him a working stiff reporter. They meet when Lund saves Tierney's life as she goes off the road and drives precariously on to a cliff's edge. Both abandon their respective prospective mates, Lund says goodbye to Jan Sterling and she to James Lorimer who also happens to be the son of Lund's boss Larry Keating.

Tierney's one nervous new bride wanting to make sure her first dinner party goes right and when Ritter comes knocking at her door, Tierney mistakes her for the new maid she wanted. God knows Thelma Ritter played enough maids in her career, it was an honest mistake. Then of course Lund can't quite break it to her, even after grand dame Miriam Hopkins as Tierney's mother arrives on the scene.

It all sounds real silly, but it actually does work, Leisen's direction and the talent of his cast actually carry this off.

Thelma Ritter went six times to the Oscars as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress and she could have won in any of those years. This year of 1951 her nomination and everything else that year had to face up against A Streetcar Named Desire and she lost to Kim Hunter as Stella Kowalski.

Maybe she should have been up for Best Actress though I doubt Thelma Ritter would have won against Vivien Leigh. Still she's the main reason to see The Mating Season.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 32 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

12 January 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Relative Stranger See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed