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Film / Third Finger, Left Hand

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Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) is a Screwball Comedy starring Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas.

Margo (Loy), a fashion editor, has the perfect idea to ward off unwanted suitors: pretend she’s a married woman by wearing a wedding ring and having the magazine’s photographer, Gus Winkler (Felix Bressart), write phony love letters to her. She’s able to dupe everyone from her lawyer friend, Philip (Lee Bowman), to even her own family.

But a chance meeting with painter Jeff Thompson (Douglas), has her falling in love. But Jeff suspects something fishy when he finds out about her "marriage", leading him to investigate and decide to impersonate her made-up husband.

Hilarity Ensues, of course.


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Tropes:

  • Bad Liar: Margo can’t keep her fake husband’s identity straight, making Jeff rather suspicious to his actual existence.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: It’s a screwball, what do you expect?
  • Bridal Carry: Angry about his impersonation, Margo digs her nails into Jeff’s cheeks when he picks her up for this trope.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Margo imitates a Brooklyn accent to embarrass Jeff in front of his friends that he accidentally meets in Niagara Falls.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Happens with Margo and Jeff.
  • Career Versus Man: Surprisingly averted! Margo is never told that she must decide between marriage and work.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Philip becomes this when Margo wants to get her divorce from Jeff.
  • Divorce in Reno: Margo eschews her divorce proceedings to go settle property documents with Jeff while he heads back home to Ohio.
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  • Exiled to the Couch: When Jeff sneaks his way into Margo’s family, they are obviously put in the same room to sleep in. Margo takes care of this by locking Jeff on the patio outside.
  • Funny Foreigner: Gus Winkler is the sweet, nervous photographer that helps Margo keep up her rouse.
  • Living a Double Life: Margo pretending to have a husband far away in South America.
  • Marriage of Convenience: To appease the tabloids and her own family, Margo marries Jeff for real, so they can get a real divorce and be done with each other.
  • Married to the Job: Margo loves her job so much that she’s willing to
  • Meet Cute: Margo accidentally shoos away an art critic that was interested in Jeff’s work and has to fix her mistake.
  • Rom Com Job: Margo’s a fashion editor and Jeff’s a painter.
  • Romantic False Lead: Philip has been trying to woo Margo for a long time, and she gives him a chance when the whole issue of Jeff props up, but she chooses Jeff over him.
  • Running Gag: Jeff is from Ohio, so he constantly sings the Ohio riddle note  and he has everyone singing it by the end of the movie.
  • Wedding Day: Margo and Jeff spend a boring wedding day in Niagara Falls.
  • Wedding Ring Defense: The whole plot of the film revolves around this trope and the problems it causes Margo.
  • Zany Scheme: Margo and Jeff must get married in order to get a divorce.

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