The Palm Beach Story
is a 1942 screwball comedy from writer/director Preston Sturges
. The story concerns a New York couple who are struggling to make ends meet. Gerry, the wife (Claudette Colbert) comes up with a Zany Scheme
to divorce her husband Tom (a struggling inventor played by Joel McCrea) so she can get a new rich husband to help her ex-husband with his plans for an above-ground airport. Gerry runs away to Palm Beach to get her divorce, Tom right behind her because he disapproves of the whole thing, and she captures the eye of one of the richest men in the world, Hackensacker (Rudy Vallee). Tom butts in and has to pretend to be his wife's brother, and he becomes the target of affection from the multiple-divorced sister of Hackensacker, the princess Centimillia (Mary Astor). As they get deeper and deeper into this scheme, Gerry begins to have second thoughts.Hilarity Ensues
- Affectionate Nickname: The Princess calls her brother "Snoodles".
- Alcohol Hic: One of the members of the Ale and Quail Club.
- All Women Are Lustful: The Princess.
Princess Centimillia: Is there anything else?
- Brick Joke: The opening sequence.
- The Cast Showoff: Rudy Vallee doing his own singing for an in-character, yet totally gratuitous musical scene.
- Curtain Clothing: Gerry moans about not being a good housewife at the beginning, lacking an ability to make a dress out of window curtains, yet later she has to improvise a skirt made from a Pullman train blanket.
- Enormous Engagement Ring: Claudette Colbert's character is proposed to by one of the richest men in the world. The ring so large that she tells him to put it away, or else the sight of it will convince her to go through with it (she is married already, anyway). She takes a final look at it before putting it away forever.
- Fourth Date Marriage: The Princess is extremely fond of these:
Hackensacker: You don't marry someone you just met the day before; at least I don't.
Princess: But that's the only way, dear. If you get to know too much about them you'd never marry them.
- Funny Name: Captain McGloo, the alias Gerry thinks up for Tom. to be fair, it was the best she could do on short notice.
- Funny Foreigner: Toto. We don't know where he's from or what language he speaks. He's more like a dog than a companion.
- Hypocritical Humor: Hackensacker calls his sister out on her tendency towards marrying men so quickly after she's met them, yet he's willing to do the same thing with Gerry.
- Nice to the Waiter: Played with; Hackensacker is generally nice to all the service people he encounters, he just doesn't believe in tipping.
Hackensacker: Tipping is un-American.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever the hell was going on under the opening credits before Tom and Gerry's wedding.
- Pair the Spares
- Punny Name: Toto, a Funny Foreigner speaking an incomprehensible language and following the princess like puppy.
- Running Gag: "Nitz!" "Yitz!"
- Settle for Sibling: In a particularly insane, madcap ending.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense
- Take That:
Gerry: 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?
- Zany Scheme: The thrust of the plot, which is a divorce to get her husband money from a new rich husband.
- Zip Me Up