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Mr. and Mrs. Smith Reviews

This was Hitchcock's only full-out American comedy (if we discount the black humor of THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY) and is not entirely satisfying. He agreed to direct it because Lombard was a close friend and felt that his style might widen the thin material and make it something better than it was. Lombard would film only one more movie after this, the wonderful TO BE OR NOT TO BE, before dying in 1942 in a small plane. Lombard and Montgomery are a happy, if always-battling, couple. Their love is strong and they respect each other so much that they are willing to listen to the brittle dialog each hurls. When first married, they agreed that they would never walk out on the other while having an argument and since they are totally opposite in so many ways, that forces them to stay together for periods up to a week. As the picture begins, they have been quarreling side by side for three days. Once that's over, Lombard sweetly asks Montgomery if he would marry her again, given the opportunity. He thinks a moment, shrugs, and says he wouldn't, even though we know that he is mad about her. It's just Montgomery's way of teasing his bride but she doesn't find it at all funny. Montgomery goes to his office and is met by lawyer Halton, who explains that Lombard and Montgomery really aren't married because the state in which they married had shifted boundary lines just before the service. There's no problem, though, as all the couple has to do is remarry. Montgomery goes home for dinner and doesn't know that Halton has also visited Lombard at their residence. She eagerly awaits Montgomery's suggestion that they get married again but he says nothing about it. She suggests they return to the Italian restaurant where they spent so much of their courtship time but the dinner turns out to be a shambles. The restaurant has a new owner, Edmunds, and nothing is as they remember it. The soup they order is so vile that the scruffy restaurant cat even refuses it. They return home and Lombard, who has been waiting for her husband's proposal, realizes that he has no desire for another wedding, becomes enraged, and locks Montgomery out of the bedroom. She announces that she is going to retake her maiden name (Krausheimer) and since they are not married, there will be no need for a messy divorce. Montgomery moves to his men's club, has a few scenes with Carson in the steam room, and is totally perplexed about how to win back his wife. Raymond is Montgomery's law partner and he has been mad about Lombard for years, so he thinks the time is ripe for him to declare his affection for the sultry blonde. Raymond moves in and begins to woo Lombard, who is using that ploy as a tool in her effort to win back Montgomery. Lombard and Raymond go to a Lake Placid lodge and Montgomery won't let them alone. His attentions eventually convince Lombard that he does indeed love her and she willingly tosses Raymond aside for Montgomery. It's a cute film, not nearly as funny as most of Lombard's other comedies, but there's enough good humor in MR. AND MRS. SMITH to make it pleasant. Hitchcock's direction is flawless, but with no chance for suspense or thrills. Hitchcock went out of his way to hire Compson for her role in this film; she had been kind to him when he was a lowly set designer in the 1920s and he was never a man to forget. The director knew that her star had faded considerably and she was down to acting in small roles so he made sure she had a substantial part in MR. AND MRS. SMITH. With the leading players he was genial, particularly with the often ribald Lombard who had long wanted to work with him. Hitchcock's remark about all actors being cattle (the printed source of this remark has never been pinpointed) brought about an elaborate joke. When he appeared on the set to begin shooting, Hitchcock found a small pen with three calves. Around the neck of each hung a sign with the name of the three leading actors' names on them. Hitchcock countered this Lombard jest by having assistants suddenly hold up cue cards during her important scenes which caused Lombard's perfect delivery to go awry so that she muffed her lines. She retaliated when it came time for Hitchcock to make his cameo appearance, this time as a bum cadging money from Montgomery for a drink. Lombard herself directed the bit, making Hitchcock do the tiny scene over and over again, insisting that more and more powder from the makeup people be added to his slowly reddening face.