Turnabout (1940)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

One of several "naughty" screwball comedies based on the works of Thorne Smith (of Topper fame), Hal Roach's Turnabout stars Carole Landis and John Hubbard as unhappily married couple Sally and Tim Willows. Bored with her humdrum existence, Sally spends most of her time figuring out ways of spending her husband's money, while hard-working Tim plots and plans to "step out" on the Missus in the company of his business associates Manning (Adolphe Menjou) and Clare (William Gargan). All of this changes when an effigy representing an Oriental deity comes to life and exchanges Sally and Tim's personalities. As a result, Sally awakens with a deep voice and dons Tim's business suit, while Tim speaks in a falsetto and favors Sally's frilly frocks. The complications ensuing from this role-reversal are much better seen than described, while the film's hilarious denouement was tipped by United Artists' ad campaign, which heralded that "The man's had a baby instead of the lady." Though not nearly as risque as it seemed to be back in 1940, Turnabout is full of wonderful vignettes, including a priceless bit involving veteran screen "pansy" Franklin Pangborn.
Classics , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
United Artists


John Hubbard
as Tim Willows
Carole Landis
as Sally Willows
Adolphe Menjou
as Phil Manning
William Gargan
as Joel Clare
Veree Teasdale
as Laura Bannister
Verree Teasdale
as Laura Bannister
Mary Astor
as Marion Manning
Donald Meek
as Henry
Joyce Compton
as Irene Clare
Inez Courtney
as Miss Edwards
Franklin Pangborn
as Mr. Pingboom
Berton Churchill
as Julian Marlowe
Margaret Roach
as Dixie Gale
Ray Turner
as Mose
Norman Budd
as Jimmy
Polly Ann Young
as Miss Twill
Eleanor Riley
as Lorraine
Murray Alper
as Masseur
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Turnabout

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (2)

This probably seemed daring once, but hasn't worn well.

Full Review… | October 5, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

This self-conscious fantasy of a husband and wife who reverse their biological status is a tired and tiresome jape, as subtle as a five-cent stogie and just as aromatic.

Full Review… | October 5, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

Though there are a few chuckles, the presentation is predictable slapstick and takes much longer than need be to get to the main point.

Full Review… | August 2, 2011
TV Guide

A daring for its time but now dated screwball comedy.

Full Review… | October 1, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Turnabout

The original body switching comedy is well played by the stars but nothing extraordinary.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

[6.0] Despite some offensive, outdated assertions about gender roles, I enjoyed this movie. Maybe it's just my fondness for body-switching movies, but I thought this played a bit like a breezy Howard Hawks comedy. John Hubbard and Carole Landis did good jobs portraying the opposite sex without going over the top. The large supporting cast is also amusing. Sure, it's silly -- body switching movies always are, with their talking Buddha statues, Zoltan fortune telling machines, birthday wishes, and other magic bullshit. But I think this particular conceit is inherently provocative, allowing for some unique exploration of sex and gender. Even in a light comedy like this one, you get to see a man respond to the revelation that he is going to give birth. While I've never seen a great body-switching movie, except maybe for Penny Marshall's "Big", I keep holding out for a rare gem. In the meantime, I'll take "Turnabout".

Scott Schirmer
Scott Schirmer

Turnabout Quotes

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