Category Archives: 1940

This Thing Called Love (1940)

rosalind russell this thing called love
Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Banned in Australia, Ireland, and by the Catholic Legion of Decency, This Thing Called Love is a fun romantic comedy with innuendos a-plenty. Although any mention of sex in this film is only implied (and it is implied quite a bit), such implications were enough to cause the ban. It is interesting to think that both Australia and Ireland’s censors were more conservative compared to the United States in 1940 than they are today. Today, most people would agree it is the complete opposite.

rosalind russell melvyn douglas this thing called love
Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas in This Thing Called Love (1940)

This Thing Called Love also marked the first time Rosalind Russell would star opposite Melvyn Douglas, one of my favorite actors. He was a little on the underrated side and not one of the most conventionally handsome types, but he was always bursting with exuberant charm and his most wonderful asset was his voice. I have always loved that voice of his and he was always a good match for many popular leading ladies of the time, appearing in many comedies with the likes of Greta Garbo, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunne, Gloria Swanson, Claudette Colbert, Jean Arthur, Mary Astor, and Joan Blondell. He always had fantastic chemistry with all of his leading ladies. There must have been something about him that made him easy to get along with and work with. This was the sixth comedy in a row for Roz (although No Time for Comedy is also part drama) and it was clear what a bright comedienne she was. She was becoming known for comedy and perfectly showed off her flair for it.

rosalind russell this thing called love
Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Tice Collins, played by Melvyn Douglas, is on a ship sailing from South America (Peru, to be exact) back to New York City. He has had one woman on his mind during his trip and is excited to get back to her. Also on the boat with him is a successful banker named Julio Diestro (Lee J. Cobb), and his wife and children. Tice is trying to get a large business loan ($1 million) to finance a new mine (he’s an engineer) and has been busy trying to charm Diestro into getting him that loan. Meanwhile, back in the Big Apple, Ann (Rosalind Russell) is trying to win over her bosses at the insurance company where she works as a statistician. She wants them to finance a project she is planning. She has written a book called The Practical Plan for Marriage and her idea is that after couples get married, they should live together in name only. This means they shouldn’t consummate their marriage for three months. Couples need to get to know each other better before they bring sex into it. She believes that this idea needs to be tested to see if it works and her soon-to-be husband, Tice, has no idea he will be the guinea pig in her experiment.

melvyn douglas rosalind russell this thing called love
Melvyn Douglas and Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

When Ann goes to the docks to meet Tice, it is obvious how smitten they are with each other. They don’t even speak when they see each other. They kiss and kiss for what seems a long time, while Tice’s lawyer, Harry (Allyn Joslyn) and his secretary, Charlotte (Binnie Barnes) stand right next to them. Of course, they are so wrapped up in each other that they don’t even hear Harry and Charlotte attempting to talk to them. Tice and Ann have been separated from each other for six months, but it is soon revealed that they only knew each other on the boat for one week when they fell in love and decided to get married. Ann’s sister Ruth (Leona Maricle) is getting divorced just as Ann is about to marry. Predictably, when Ann whispers her plan in Tice’s ear, he yelps, “WHAT?! YOU’RE CRAZY!” As she gets up to leave the courtroom where they came to watch the divorce proceedings, Tice whimpers like a hurt puppy before following her out. Ann explains to him that she isn’t sure their marriage will work because they fell too hard too fast.

rosalind russell this thing called love
Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

The next day, Tice decides to discuss Ann’s plan with Harry. Harry and his wife Florence (Gloria Dickson) are cause for a lot of friction in this story. They are constantly bickering and insulting each other. In fact, they fight so much that there are about five or six dents in their bedroom door where Florence throws a shoe at him as he closes the door. Harry thinks Ann’s plan is silly and she will soon forget it as long as Tice turns on the charm for her after they’re married.

sig arno melvyn douglas rosalind russell this thing called love
Sig Arno, Melvyn Douglas, and Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

So they get married. On their wedding night, they both get dressed up to have dinner together downstairs in their new house. As Ann gets ready, Tice gets ready… to ply her with champagne and whichever tricks he may have up his sleeve to seduce her. When she comes down, they embrace and kiss each other. As he holds her, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and salutes. Even though the objective is for Tice to charm Ann into the bedroom, there is a moment where Ann kisses him and immediately wants to kiss him again, but he actually turns away, almost as if he’s playing hard to get for a brief moment. They start drinking champagne, something that Ann thoroughly enjoys. As Tice continuously refills her glass, she remarks that she can “drink quarts and quarts of it [champagne] and it never affects me one way or another.” She spies a little statuette on the table and he explains that it is the Aztec god of plenty, a fertility god that will “ensure abundant crops and offspring.” She makes with the big eyes and turns away from him, changing the subject.

melvyn douglas rosalind russell this thing called love
Melvyn Douglas and Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Tice’s next technique is to play the song that was playing when they first met. She immediately recognizes it and with goo-goo eyes, she starts to dance with him as they reminisce about that night. She starts complaining about it being too warm and Tice suggests that they go upstairs because it’s much cooler up there. She refuses, but he doesn’t give up. He slyly turns on the heater so it won’t cool down as she opens the window. The champagne begins to make her act silly and when the phone rings, she makes herself comfortable on the couch and answers with a shrill, very relaxed “Hellooooo!” She half listens to her colleague talk about a business proposition, saying things like “They’re just putting in these perfectly looooooooooooooovely safety belts.” After Tice unplugs the phone, Ann grins at him and tells him the place is “sooooooooooo nice.” Ann is just about to crack as Tice starts kissing her from her temple down her face and neck, but then she catches sight of the pamphlet about her plan. She comes to her senses, gets up, and bids Tice good night, but not before she takes the groom off their wedding cake, bringing him with her.

rosalind russell this thing called love
Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Tice grumbles and stares at his reflection in the mirror, saying sarcastically, “You’re irresistible! You’ve got charm!” Not long after this, Diestro comes over to their house for dinner, not sure he wants to give Tice the loan because he isn’t the family man he was hoping for. Harry and Charlotte mistakenly lead Diestro to believe that Ann is pregnant (which of course would be impossible) and so they will start their family very soon. When Tice is let in on this secret, they all desperately do their best to conceal the news of Ann’s alleged pregnancy from Ann herself. Ann arrives home and literally jumps with all the gusto she could muster into the living room, which shocks the Diestros, not wishing to see a pregnant woman acting like that. That part always makes me laugh because seriously, who does that? Only Rosalind Russell, of course. At dinner, Tice constantly changes the subject away from babies or anything related to them and Ann starts to think he’s insane. He, Harry, and Charlotte change the subject to football, to sluices (water channel controlled at its head by a gate, from Wikipedia), to the world’s fair, then they all stand up and toast three times—to South America, to the United States, and to both Americas! In a final ditch effort to steer the conversation, Tice breaks into song, singing “America the Beautiful” until everyone in the room is singing along, including Ann, who is shooting Tice a dirty look.

Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas in This Thing Called Love (1940)
Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Tice calls his own phone from the extension upstairs and as he gets Ann’s boss, Gordon Daniels (Paul McGrath), on the phone, he informs him that his office is on fire in order to clear out the house. As Ann is giving the Diestros a tour of the house, she catches them in the act as she watches Harry splashing in the bathtub, pretending to be putting out the “fire.” She then discovers that Tice has invited the Diestros to stay for the weekend, which means he gave up his bedroom for them. Oh, what a sacrifice he made! I guess that means he has to stay in Ann’s room this weekend. Meanwhile, Harry’s wife Florence finds Charlotte outside doing some work. They get into an argument, which culminates in Florence literally tearing the black dress (which was a cause for friction between her husband and herself) off Charlotte’s back. Ann plays cards with the Diestros and keeps dropping hints about what a bad idea it was for them to leave their children at their hotel. When she mentions that she had a friend get lost in the hotel for days, Mrs. Diestro can’t stand it any longer and insists they go back to the hotel. They go outside and there is an awkward moment as Ann finds her husband draping a towel around Charlotte.

rosalind russell melvyn douglas this thing called love
Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Now that the Diestros aren’t staying, Tice tries again and this time, he helps Florence and Harry make up, inviting them to stay for the weekend. However, before the now happy couple enters Tice’s bedroom, Ann takes Harry aside and lets him know that Florence called him some names in front of other people. “It was something awfully silly. I think it was, um… chowderhead.” Harry snaps at Florence: “When are you gonna learn to shut that flannel mouth of yours?” They start bickering again and leave. Tice is angry that his plans didn’t come to fruition and goes to take a swim with Charlotte. When some neighbors come walking by, Charlotte tells Tice they need to hide in the nearby bush because she doesn’t want to get into trouble with another wife. Unfortunately, as the neighbors remark, what they just jumped into was poison oak.

this thing called love poster
This Thing Called Love poster

In the last half hour of the film enters “Sexy Rosalind.” She wears a total of four nightgowns or negligées in this span of time. I wonder how she liked to parade around in nightgowns because it was not something she usually did in films. It is a very interesting change for her and she does it very well (for people who don’t think Roz can pull “sexy” off). The next morning when Ann finds Tice’s bed hasn’t been slept in, she decides once and for all to forget her plan and have a real marriage. Of course, by this time, Tice has decided to play hard to get. When Ann calls him up at the club and mentions that if a man claims he has a wife and really hasn’t one, that would be insurance fraud, she purrs into the phone, “Wellll, I don’t want you to go to jail.” When Tice arrives home, he finds Ann trying to be as sexy as possible for him. He tries to put the flowers he brought in some water, but he can’t ignore Ann. He drops the flowers and reaches out to kiss her, but the telephone rings. Tice has started scratching himself and as Charlotte tells him on the phone, he finds out why. They both have poison oak and he will come down with it badly very soon. He turns to Ann and they start drinking champagne. She says, “You know, one sip of this and I don’t remember a thing,” a statement very different from the one earlier in the film.

melvyn douglas rosalind russell this thing called love
Melvyn Douglas and Rosalind Russell in This Thing Called Love (1940)

Tice takes her wedding ring off her finger and throws it into the fireplace. He puts another on her finger and tells her it’s the real one since now they will start a real marriage. Trying to keep the conversation with Charlotte from his wife, he tells her it was Harry. She keeps wanting to get close to him, so he asks her to dance instead. They start dancing, but he has the urge to scratch. He starts doing a funny sort of “rumba” dance, but is really just rubbing himself against the post behind him to scratch that itch, while making bizarre jerking movements. He has the operator call him and pretends he is on the phone with a friend named “Shorty” in Cheyenne. He has to go out of town right away to Cheyenne and immediately leaves Ann hanging. Ann responds, “I don’t get it.” Then she turns to the camera, as if she is talking to us. “Do you?”

rosalind russell on the set this thing called love
Rosalind Russell on the set of This Thing Called Love (1940)

Sometime later, Ann’s boss, Gordon, completely drunk, has driven her home from a business dinner. He passes out and Ann lets him sleep it off in Tice’s bedroom. Tice suddenly comes home the next morning, surprising her. As he takes Ann into his arms, over Tice’s shoulder she sees Arno (Sig Arno), the butler, go into the other bedroom. She tries her best to keep Tice out of his own bedroom. Unfortunately, as Arno tries to get Gordon out, they both fall down the stairs and make a racket. Tice sees Gordon in his pajamas and shoots Ann an angry look. She tries to explain what happened, but he won’t listen to her. He is in trouble, too, because she sees the label on his cowboy hat and it was made in New York City. Then medicine for poison oak falls out of his coat pocket. She begins to realize that he never went to Cheyenne after all and he has poison oak, which she knows Charlotte also has. She lifts up his shirt and he slaps her hand away. They do this over and over until she glares at him and says, “Did he [his friend Shorty] give you his spots, too?” He replies, “They’re birthmarks!” “Whose birthmarks—Charlotte Campbell’s?”

alexander hall rosalind russell this thing called love
Director Alexander Hall and Rosalind Russell on the set of This Thing Called Love

Just as Ann is about to board plane for Reno, she hears Tice has gone a little nuts and is selling his mine for much less than it’s worth. She asks her brother-in-law, who is a psychiatrist, to get him out of the meeting and take him home. “You gotta get him out of there, even if you have to put him in a straitjacket!” Which is exactly what he does, and Tice is stuck at home in one. At the last minute, Ann changes her mind and runs back home. When she can’t find Tice anywhere, she sobs, knowing she’s lost him. But when the phone rings and she hears Tice on the extension, she gets excited and grabs the fertility god from downstairs. She slowly puts the statuette on the dresser in Tice’s room and he knows what this means.

IMDB page for This Thing Called Love

TCM overview of the film

No Time for Comedy (1940)

rosalind russell james stewart cbs radio
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart on CBS radio

Around 1938, Rosalind Russell was teamed with James Stewart for a radio play, and although I am no biographer so I cannot confirm this, it is probably around this time that she befriended him. This cute couple were known to be dating on and off from around 1938 to early 1940. Rosalind met her future husband in late 1939, but she didn’t settle for one man right away. By 1940, she had fallen in love with Frederick Brisson and married him the following year. But her friendship with Jimmy Stewart persisted until her death in 1976. Although she did not marry Jimmy (she said in an interview later in life that they liked each other very much, but they just weren’t right for each other), I have always considered them an adorable couple. This is another great romantic pairing for Roz that only produced one film. The other one I’m speaking of is, of course, Cary Grant and His Girl Friday. And just like with Jimmy, Cary and Roz forged a very long friendship also lasting until her death.

james stewart rosalind russell
James Stewart and Rosalind Russell out at a restaurant

When Jimmy and Roz were put into No Time for Comedy (ridiculous renamed when it was re-released years later as Guy with a Grin), Rosalind had just come off of a phenomenally brilliant performance in His Girl Friday. She was on top of the world professionally and so was Stewart, who had given a talented performance in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which had been released the previous year. In comparison, No Time for Comedy is very weak in story, but I believe it makes up for it with those two sparkling, talented stars who share an amazing chemistry. They would both go on to make greater films, but we are lucky to have this one film so we can all watch them together.

Rosalind Russell plays Linda Paige, a Broadway stage actress, and a successful one to boot. She is rehearsing a new play called Dilemma at Dinner, which was written by an unknown from Minnesota named Gaylord Esterbrook (what a name!). The new writer hasn’t arrived in New York City and the director bursting with bad attitude, Morgan Carrell (Allyn Joslyn), has little faith in the play, while the producer who is backing it, Richard Benson (Clarence Kolb), is about ready to give up on it. On the other hand, Linda finds it to be a brilliant play and wants them to give it a chance. It just needs a little touching up by the playwright… if he ever comes to town.

james stewart rosalind russell on the set no time for comedy
James Stewart and Rosalind Russell on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

When we first see this group of colorful characters, they stop into the local bar and order an aspirin, bi-carbonate, and Bromo (-Seltzer) when asked what they would like. With an order like that, it’s clear how well the play is progressing.

Gaylord Esterbrook (herein called Gay, played by James Stewart) finally arrives in town when the cast is in the middle of a rehearsal. When he stops outside the theater and sees a poster promoting his play with his name in bold letters, he beams with pride. The stagehand tries not to let him in because being a small town boy from Redfield, Minnesota, he doesn’t look like the type who would write a play about some high class socialites who live on Park Avenue. Before he is finally let into the theater, we meet Clementine, another actress in the play and also a friend of Linda’s. The actress who plays this actress is Louise Beavers, who always plays fun, gregarious types.

james stewart rosalind russell on the set no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell feeding James Stewart cake on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

However, because she was African American and especially because of the time period, she was usually relegated to roles as maids or nannies (in this film as well), which is downright unfair and something that causes me anger. Who knows what amazing, inspiring characters she could have brought to the screen? She immediately has friction with the director, who always seems to be on edge.

When they finally believe that Gay is who he says he is, he is let in and as Benson and Carrell go out, Morgan remarks, “What does he know about Park Avenue?” Benson responds, “Doesn’t mean a thing. I don’t know anything about Park Avenue, either, and I live on the darn street.” Inside the theater, Linda meets Gay for the first time, and assuming he is just some guy wanting to watch a rehearsal, she asks him to run out and get her a pack of cigarettes, handing him a quarter. He’s supposed to be watching the rehearsal and she thinks nothing of this until Benson and Carrell come back. She is introduced to Gay as the star of the play and he to her as the playwright.

james stewart rosalind russell no time for comedy
James Stewart and Rosalind Russell in No Time for Comedy (1940)

She is taken aback and asks for her quarter back, laughing. It is at this point that they shake hands and the viewer can size them up. It is ob vious what a good choice Jimmy is for Roz. It’s his sheet height that does that trick. Roz was tall (about 5’8”), so Jimmy’s 6 feet 3 inches definitely meant no awkward dance scenes or things of that nature. They have a wonderful rapport and you can tell right off they were friendly behind the scenes.

They all sit down in the same row to watch the next scene. As they do, Gay stares at Linda without blinking. Sensing his stare, she looks at him out of the corner of her eye, turns to him, and smiles. As Benson lights her cigarette, Gay whispers to Carrell (but not out of earshot of Linda) “Is that really Linda Paige?” Carrell crosses his heart with his finger. “Cross my heart.” “For my money, she’s a little skinny to be a star.” Linda responds to this with a simple smile. They all agree to meet at Benson’s later for a meeting on the script and as they all start to go home, Linda notices Gay looking at a map. She offers to take him home, but he insists on taking the subway back to the Y because he longs for the city experience.

rosalind russell james stewart no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart in No Time for Comedy (1940)

Linda informs him that the subway at this house is “undeclared war,” but she offers to accompany him so she can “identify the body” after the subway dwellers gang up on him. Linda has immediately taken a liking to this country boy, and she is pleased when he walks on the outer part of the sidewalk in order to protect her from the danger of the street (Cue the ladies swooning). Gentlemen are few in the city and he is a rare breed.

Later that night when Gay arrives at Benson’s for dinner, he is embarrassed to discover that all the men are dressed in tuxedoes while he is dressed plainly in a suit. He immediately runs back home to change into a tux. However, by the time he gets back to Benson’s apartment, the men have changed back into regular suits. During their discussion, Morgan vocalizes how much he hates the play, enlightening everyone, especially the author, with plenty of negative adjectives. Linda still really loves the play and convinces Benson to continue backing it. Linda and Gay have a discussion on the terrace about their backgrounds (Linda’s real name is not Paige but “Haggerty,” revealing her Irish roots).

rosalind russell james stewart on the set no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart goofing off on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

Gay sticks to the belief that people are pretty much the same all over, no matter how their lifestyles may differ. When Linda gives Gay his chocolate mousse, he doesn’t even recognize it, even though it is a dessert that is mentioned more than once in his play. Unfortunately, Benson decides not to produce the play after all because his butler doesn’t approve of the script.

In the morning, Linda gathers all the actors together and they agree to waive their salaries for the first two weeks since the theater has already been paid for that allotted time anyway. The play opens and as both Gay and Carrell prepare for the controversial third act that Carrell hated so much, they drop in at the bar. When Gay sees Carrell order six scotches, all glasses set before him in a row, Gay decides to replicate that. “Give me six champagnes.” “What kind of champagne do you like?” “Uh, the type with bubbles.” Always that small town boy at heart without much world experience, he hadn’t mastered the art of drinking alcohol (he would show just how much he improved upon this later on).

rosalind russell james stewart on the set no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

He emerges from the bar drunk and accidentally finds himself at the wrong play at the wrong theater. He sees Carrell outside and blames him for ruining his third act. He starts a brawl with him and they end up at the police station.

After Linda gets them out, she and Gay wander over to Central Park and wait for the 5 am reviews. It is adorable as he stays up while she sleeps on his shoulder. “You don’t look bad at all for a girl who’s just getting up in the morning,” Gay quips. “Well, for a man who’s stayed up all night, you look great.” The newspapers start circulating. They discover they have received rave reviews for both acting (Linda) and writing (Gay). Gay then starts reading about what Linda did to save his play and he tenderly kisses her on the cheek to express his gratitude. Linda informs him she was about to “attack” him, too (as if a kiss on the cheek is an attack) and she asks him to marry her. “I don’t know whatever gave me the idea you’re skinny,” he says, and then kisses her.

rosalind russell james stewart on the set no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

Before you know it, they are enjoying wedded bliss. But it doesn’t take long for problems to surface.

Although as the time has passed, Linda has appeared in a string of successful comedies all written by Gay, he has found himself in a rut. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. He has developed a drinking problem (a far cry from the man he used to be) and goes on drinking binges when he is in between writing ideas. One night at a party, Gay and Linda meet Philo and Amanda Swift (Charlie Ruggles and Genevieve Tobin), a very strange couple indeed. Amanda flutters around the party until she finds a man in which she sees “possibilities” and encourages him until he has a swelled ego. Philo is very indifferent to his wife’s activities. He just goes back to his reading or his drink, not giving a damn either way. Amanda decides her new “project” will be Gay. She sees the unhappiness in him, but she knows she can fix that.

rosalind russell james stewart on the set no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart on the set of No Time for Comedy (1940)

The way she fixes her gaze on Gay is an immediate cause for trouble. I personally (and I hope I’m not alone in this) find Genevieve Tobin absolutely irritating in this film. It’s not just her character, but her whiny, high-pitched voice and the fact that her beauty is nothing compared to the beauty that Rosalind Russell possesses. So why would any man (even temporarily) drift to her instead? I suppose it might mainly be because of the lovely lies she tells him, but it is a bizarre situation nevertheless.

Under Amanda’s guidance, Gay decides to steer away for comedies for which he is known for and sets his sights on a great drama. It is difficult for him and he doesn’t make much progress on it as time passes. He starts frequenting more and more of the local bars and Linda and Clementine (who is now her personal maid—yep!) have collected a long list of these bars’ numbers on their notepad. When Gay doesn’t come home, they can dial these numbers to try to find him. One day when Philo comes over to the Esterbrook residence, he lets Linda know that she will be able to find Gay at his house.

rosalind russell no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell in No Time for Comedy (1940)

He has been spending a lot of time with Amanda there. She is surprised at the news, but she acts like she’s fine with it, smiling her way out of it. After he leaves, Linda adds the Swift number to her pad of bars’ numbers. When Gay arrives home the next day, in spite of their recent troubles, it is still so obvious how much they love each other. A cute, charming moment occurs when Gay lies down on the couch with his head in Linda’s lap. Before he gets up, she ruffles his hair by running her fingers through it. Even though the scene ends with an argument about what Gay does with his time and Gay’s childish accusations against Linda, I love this scene anyway. Gay recognizes Amanda’s number on the pad and accuses Linda of spying on him and storms out of there.

Linda shows up at Amanda’s house and has a talk with her about what she’s doing to Gay and to their in sweetness by crying like a baby. “You’re hateful and horrid and I hate you!”

james stewart rosalind russell no time for comedy
James Stewart and Rosalind Russell in No Time for Comedy (1940)

When Amanda runs from the room crying and Gay yells viciously at Linda for upsetting her, Linda is left alone with Philo. At first she seems to have her wits about her and in control of her emotions, but just like turning on a dime, Linda is suddenly hysterically sobbing about the predicament she’s found herself in. Even though he’s awkward and uncomfortable about it, Philo allows Linda to sob on his shoulder. She cries out to him: “I don’t want to lose him!” and how completely unrestrained her sobs are gives us a glimpse of what a great actress Roz is. It is with moments like these that we can see how realistic of an actress she can be.

rosalind russell james stewart no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart in No Time for Comedy (1940)

When Gay returns home, Linda acts like she hasn’t been worried about him at all. During this scene, when Gay asks Linda if she thinks Amanda is an idiot and Linda replies, “I think she’s a clever idiot, but an idiot nevertheless,” I always think of the blooper Roz made when filming this scene. As part of their Breakdowns of *insert year here* series, Warner Bros. included Jimmy and Roz in 1940. Roz flubs her lines and says, “I think she’s a clever idiot, but an idiot never the same. I mean…” I just love stuff like that!

Gay tells Linda that he wants to marry Amanda, whom he nicknames “Mandy.” Again, I’m thinking, “Really? You’d rather marry her?” But anyway, Linda acts very noble about her marriage crumbling around her. She tells Gay that she’ll just let him do what he wants and she won’t stand in his way. Feeling defensive, he insults her in the worst way possible:

rosalind russell no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell in No Time for Comedy (1940)

“You can preen yourself. You can revel in your own superiority. You’re self-sufficient. You don’t need anybody but your press agent. And then you can turn and gaze at yourself in a full-length mirror!” Her feelings hurt, she tells him to stop saying those things and asks him to leave, tears stinging her eyes.

 

Before we all know it, Gay has finished his tragic drama and it is about to open on Broadway. Linda and Philo attend the play. Linda knows how talented Gay is, and even though many of the patrons laugh during his drama, Linda feels deeply for the play, especially for its writing. Before the third act starts, Philo is ready to leave because Gay has clearly failed.

rosalind russell james stewart no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart in No Time for Comedy (1940)

Assuming Linda will go with him, she surprises him by staying for the remainder of the play. Amanda has already set her sights on Morgan in whom she sees “latent possibilities.” The theater empties very quickly and the only two people left in the theater are Gay and Linda. She starts applauding him loudly and yelling “Author! Author! Speech! Speech!” with tears filling her eyes. He delivers a beautiful but sad speech about what has become of him and his admitted failure with this play. It is quite reminiscent of his moving speech delivery in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He is a truly gifted actor. Linda, who is indeed very moved, runs toward him, telling him of her idea for a new comedy he should write (with her as the star, of course).

rosalind russell james stewart no time for comedy
Rosalind Russell and James Stewart in No Time for Comedy (1940)

She looks around the theater and remarks, “Gosh, all those seats,” which is a throwback to the moment when they first met. He starts to go out to get her a pack of cigarettes when she touches his hand. He gazes down at her and says, “Gosh, I haven’t kissed you for two months.” “That’s nothing to brag about, you long drink of water.” The movie fades out, ending as we wanted and expected it to.

 

rosalind russell james stewart on the set no time for comedy
More fun on the set with Roz & Jimmy

 

IMDB page for No Time for Comedy

TCM overview of the film

Clip from the movie: