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Film / The Voice of the Turtle

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The Voice of the Turtle is a 1947 romantic comedy film directed by Irvin Rapper, starring Eleanor Parker and Ronald Reagan. It was adapted from the hit 1943 Broadway play of the same name by John Van Druten.

The film is set in December 1944, with World War II still underway. Sally Middleton (Parker) is a struggling actress in New York. As the film opens, she is getting dumped by her boyfriend, Broadway producer Kenneth Bartlett (Kent Smith). Ken explains to Sally, gently but firmly, that he isn't looking for long-term attachments.

Sally is friends with Olive Lashbrooke (Eve Arden), also a stage actress. Olive is signaled as clearly as a 1947 movie can signal as a woman who has lots of boyfriends and is far more casual about sex than dreamy romantic Sally. One night, when she gets a call from a Navy officer beau, Olive asks Sally to entertain her other boyfriend. That other boyfriend is Bill Page (Reagan), an Army sergeant who is in New York on leave.


Naturally, sparks fly.

This film was later re-released as One for the Book, and is almost always referred to by that title when it's aired on television.


  • Aborted Arc: Much commentary about how Sally's co-star Henry Atherton likes romance with his leading ladies. Henry gazes lecherously at Sally when she comes to the theater. Later, Henry asks Sally to come over for a rehearsal in his apartment—and nothing comes of this subplot whatsoever, as we don't even see the rehearsal.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Bill quotes from Song of Solomon 2:12. "“For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone... And the voice of the turtlenote  has been heard in our land.”
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After a phone call where Olive bills and coos to Ned on the other end of the line, she looks straight at the camera and says "There is an object lesson in how not to deal with a man.
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  • Contrived Coincidence: Seven years and a few thousand miles away, Bill spots his old girlfriend from Paris in the nightclub where he and Sally dance.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: About 48 hours in which Bill and Sally fall in love.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Bill is telling Sally he loves her after knowing her about 36 hours.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Sally, a struggling actress who apparently hasn't had a part in a few months, is living in your standard palatial New York apartment.
  • Friends with Benefits: Apparently this is what Ken thinks his relationship with Sally was. He isn't mean about it, but he tells her that she wants more than he wants to give, so they break up.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: There's a good amount of wink-and-nudge dialogue about how Olive Really Gets Around. When Sally offers her a drink right before Olive is about to go out with Ned, Olive says "Hard drinks make me weak. I'm saving my weaker moments." This all slyly skirts passed the restrictions on sex imposed by Section II of the Hays Code.
  • In Love with Love: Ken thinks Sally is "in love with the idea of being in love." It seems like he's right. Whenever Bill or Olive or whoever mentions an old fling Sally says "We're you in love with him/her?" She also has a tendency to be melodramatic, like when Bill tells her to not answer the phone—when it stops ringing, she says it feels like it died.
  • Male Gaze: Sally shows up at the theater to rehearse her part and meet her leading man, Henry Atherton. Atherton, who is clearly a sleaze, orders her to walk up a flight of stairs so he can get a look at her butt.
  • Meet Cute: Bill meets Sally after Sally is left covering for Olive after Olive gets a different date. And then he winds up sleeping in her guest bed due to the lack of hotel space and the pouring rain storm.
  • No Antagonist: There's no villain, just a gentle story about two people falling in love. Olive is kind of a schemer but she doesn't pose any obstacle to the romance and she steps aside with grace when Bill says he's no longer interested.
  • Serious Business: A long comic sequence ensues after Olive comes calling while Bill and Sally are having breakfast, because Sally doesn't want Olive to see Bill having breakfast in her apartment.
    Sally: She'll think things!
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Ned takes Olive to a Hawaiian-themed restaurant where the waitresses are in hula gear. As a waitress in a sexy backless outfit passes, an irritated Olive pronounces the waitresses there "well upholstered."
  • Stripping Snag: The Zip Me Up scene where Sally asks Bill for help with her stuck zipper ends with Bill accidentally (accidentally?) yanks her zipper all the way down and yanks her dress all the way off, leaving Sally in nothing but a slip.
  • 20 Minutes into the Past: A 1947 movie set in 1944 before the war was over. (It's an adaptation of a hit 1944 play.)
  • Zip Me Up: Sally's zipper gets stuck as she's trying to change out of her dress into pajamas. She asks Bill for help, leading to some Fanservice.