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The Palm Beach Story (1942)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 3,785

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Movie Info

As for the opening reels, the principal motivating factor is money. After a deliberately confusing pre-credit sequence (not explained until the film's punch line), Tom Jeffers (Joel McCrea) and Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert) are married. "And so they lived happily ever after," exults a title card, "...or did they?" Well, they didn't. After five years of marriage, Tom hasn't raised a dime with his pie-in-the-sky inventions. Using the sort of logic common to Sturges heroines, Gerry decides that


Romance, Classics, Comedy

Preston Sturges

Feb 1, 2005

MCA Universal Home Video

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All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (0) | DVD (7)

This Prestton Sturges production is packed with delightful absurdities.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rudy Vallee turns in his best performance as a gentle, puny millionaire named Hackensacker in this brilliant, simultaneously tender and scalding 1942 screwball comedy by Preston Sturges.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hilarious, irresistible, impeccably cast.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It should have been a breathless comedy. But only the actors are breathless -- and that from talking so much.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sturges' dialogue, as always, is not only sharp, but cutting, delivered with typical flair by the charter members of Sturges' company of actors.

July 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sturges at his confident best.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

It remains a delight.

November 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

...screwball comedy of the highest order.

January 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

Prime Preston Sturges, which means sublime sophisticated zaniness.

September 30, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

One of Preston Sturges' best films.

August 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Way before there was "Mamet talk" there was "Sturges talk,"--and his humor is sharper pronged and more scathing."

January 20, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Almost certainly not Preston Sturges' best film, but it very well might be his funniest.

March 19, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Sturges on the importance of money, sex, and guns -- not necessarily in that order.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The lines come fast and furious.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The Palm Beach Story (1942) is a hilarious, zany, marital screwball comedy by writer/director Preston Sturges - it was his last romantic comedy and

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Audience Reviews for The Palm Beach Story

Written and directed by Preston Sturges ("Sullivan's Travels", "The Lady Eve"), The Palm Beach Story once again shows his knack for wittiness and light-hearted cynicism when it comes to conniving females. This time it's Claudette Colbert who uses her feminine wiles to manipulate wealthy men into doing her bidding. Her husband (Joel McCrea) doesn't want to let her go, but she's decided to leave him for the noble cause of letting him live within his means. This means she'll be free to pursue wealthy old men and live the kind of lifestyle she feels she's meant to live, but this of course is only a lucky coincidence for them both. Even with her self-sacrifice, her husband would rather keep ahold of her, and follows her down to Palm Springs where she's latched onto a wealthy poindexter by the name of J.D. Hackensacker the Third (Rudy Vallee). Of course his sister, The Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor) thinks the husband is a dreamboat, but she'll chase after any guy, apparently. Colbert convinces her wealthy beau that her husband is actually her brother, and this leads to double dating and double courtships.

The Palm Beach Story stands out from other farcical comedies of it's day because it's rapid fire dialogue and quick pace are still just as clever today as they were when the film was made. Colbert and McCrea are fine as the leads, but it's Vallee and Astor who steal the show. The hedonistic playground of the wealthy is rich fodder for comedies of deceit, and this one takes quite a bit of the cake.
March 29, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

A woman separates from her husband so she can gold dig for his benefit.
I'm confused by the unanimous approval this film garnered. There are a lot of madcap absurdities from beginning to end, including the most gullible millionaire in film history and some crazy gun-toting club who shoot up a train. More importantly, Claudette Colbert's character's objective is to seduce men into giving her money, which, although believable, makes her character difficult to identify with even if she plans to use the money for a "good cause." And the deus ex machina at the end is too ridiculous to believe.
Overall, after a finished watching this film, I was convinced that it was proof that not all old films are gold, and even after I finished reading critics' uncritical support of it, I can't say I've been swayed.
October 25, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Madcap, screwball, shenanigans and hooligan antics abound in this, another Sturges comedy. Starring Claudette Colbert, in another of her zany roles, and the much underappreciated Joel McCrea, there are some immensely funny moments nestled in between the sheets of this 40's film. Besides Colbert's great comedic chops, her character easily falls into desperate situations aboard a train full of gunmen, then takes advantage of a wealthy millionaire to finance her unsuccessful husband's ventures. Great scenes include a featuring of William Demarest (My Three Sons) shooting out a train window with live ammunition, the performance of Sig Arno as the foreign born and unintelligible Toto, and Rudy Vallee serenading his beloved from below while she reconciles with her beau. With some great romantic lighting to set an amorous mood, and the charm of such innocent namecalling as "you cluck" you can't help but enjoy it. The only qualm I hold is that it wasn't a comedy classic such as It Happened One Night or Capra's Platinum Blonde. Still, it holds water.
May 4, 2011

Super Reviewer

I remember loving this movie, but from reading the synopsis on here, it didn't remind me of the plot any, so I can't remember at the moment. I want to see this movie again.
October 3, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. John D. Hackensacker III: I happen to believe that tipping is un-American.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
    1. Gerry Jeffers: Can't you ever learn to be practical? Don't you know that the greatest men in the world have told lies, and let things be misunderstood if it was useful to them. Didn't you ever hear of a campaign promise?
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
    1. Taxi driver: Yes Maam.
    2. Gerry Jeffers: Where's the best place to get a divorce?
    3. Tom Jeffers: Gerry, for heavens sake!
    4. Taxi driver: Well most people go to Reno, Nevada, but for my money, it's Palm Beach. This time of the year you've got the track, you've got the ocean, you've got the palm trees. Three months, you leave from Penn Station.
    5. Gerry Jeffers: Look, I'm in an awful hurry. I haven't got a dime - will you take me there for nothing?
    6. Taxi driver: To where, Palm Beach?
    7. Gerry Jeffers: No no, just to the station
    8. Taxi driver: Oh, sure. Hop in babe.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
    1. Tom Jeffers: Well, if you want a divorce you're certainly entitled to it. I don't know where the money's coming from.
    2. Gerry Jeffers: Oh the next husband always pays for that.
    3. Tom Jeffers: Oh, you've got him all picked out, have ya?
    4. Gerry Jeffers: You're such a child.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
    1. Gerry Jeffers: You'll never make a success with me around - I-I-I'm just a milestone around your neck.
    2. Tom Jeffers: Millstone.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
    1. Tom Jeffers: Everybody's a flop until he's a success.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (10 months ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • The Palm Beach Story (1942) (DE)
  • The Palm Beach Story (UK)
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