The Palm Beach Story - Rotten Tomatoes

The Palm Beach Story (1942)


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Romance , Classics , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Preston Sturges
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 1, 2005
MCA Universal Home Video


as Tom Jeffers

as Gerry Jeffers

as J.D. Hackensacker II...

as Princess Centimillia

as Mr. Hinch

as Dr. Kluck

as Mr. Asweld

as Mr. McKeewie

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Members of Ale and Q...

as Wienie King

as Pullman Conductor

as Conductor

as Brakeman

as Orchestra Leader

as Wife of Wienie King

as Man in Apartment

as Prospect

as Conductor

as Doorman

as Near-sighted woman

as Officer in Penn Stat...

as Gateman at Penn Stat...

as Waiter in Diner

as Shoe Salesman

as Taxi driver

as Jewelry salesman

as Rough-looking comic

as Steward

as Best man

as Proprietor of Store
Show More Cast

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Palm Beach Story

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5)

This Prestton Sturges production is packed with delightful absurdities.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 9, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Hilarious, irresistible, impeccably cast.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Leave it to Preston Sturges to create the sexiest and most grown-up romantic comedy of his day.

Full Review… | March 14, 2015
Parallax View

It's about as breezy, carefree, and anarchic as romantic comedies get. Full of absurd comedic digressions and bookends that still don't quite make sense, this eccentric road trip comedy would likely never get made in today's Hollywood climate.

Full Review… | February 28, 2015

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.

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.

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.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

The Palm Beach Story Quotes

– Submitted by Christopher B (21 months ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (21 months ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (21 months ago)
– Submitted by Christopher B (21 months ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Palm Beach Story on our Movie forum!