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Film / Turnabout

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Turnabout is a 1940 comedy directed by Hal Roach.

Tim and Sally Willows (John Hubbard and Carole Landis) are a young married couple. They are stuck in endless, pointless bickering over trivial subjects like Tim's gigantic, overly friendly Great Dane dog Dopey, and their great big ugly Indian idol, Mr. Ram, who looms over their bedroom staring at them.

One day their mutual carping reaches a climax during which they wish they could trade places; Tim wishes he could relax at home instead of working his stressful advertising job, and Sally wishes she could escape the tedium that is the life of a pampered society wife. They are surprised to discover that Mr. Ram the Indian idol is actually a magic, and sentient, Indian idol, who grants their wish.

One "Freaky Friday" Flip later, Sally is in Tim's body, wrestling with problems at the advertising firm of Manning, Willows, and Clare. Tim is in Sally's body, causing upset with the domestic staff and getting into fights with her society friends, the wives of Manning and Clare.

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Mary Astor has an oddly small role, billed sixth as Marion Manning, wife of David's partner Phil Manning.


Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Phil Manning (Adolphe Menjou) is routinely searched for alcohol flasks by his secretary in the morning, which is why he has the elevator attendant hide his flasks. The attendant also hides stashes of liquor for Phil in the trash can by the water fountain. Marion calls her husband "rum-soaked".
  • As You Know: The first scene with the three advertising wives together starts with Marion saying "Well here we are again girls, the wives of Willows, Manning, and Clare!"
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Manning and Clare are drinking together when a radio turns itself on to broadcast a show sponsored by Marlowe Pineapple Juice, the account that they just lost.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Sally is complaining about the giant dog.
    Sally: He goes to the kennel tomorrow, or I go!
    Tim: Darling, you wouldn't have much fun in a kennel.
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  • Drowning My Sorrows: Manning and Clare do this after Sally's blundering (as Tim) loses them a crucial account.
  • Fanservice Extra: Strangely, most of the campaigns at the firm of Manning, Willows, and Claire involve women in either lingerie or swimsuits.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Thirty-six years before the Trope Codifier movie from 1976 (the Trope Maker is an 1882 novel called Vice Versa). Tim and Sally get switched into each other's bodies after an ill-considered wish. The voices going along with their souls, much to the consternation of their friends. This film is a relatively rare example of the trope in which the two people who switch are opposite genders.
  • Gender Bender: Unlike most examples of the "Freaky Friday" Flip, Tim and Sally swap bodies. This could lead to all kinds of weird fetish stuff but since this is a 1940 movie it results in gags like Tim in a nightie and Sally in Tim's baggy pajamas, as well as Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast humor such as Sally's decidedly different approach to Tim's job.
  • Intro Dump: The arrival of Miss Gale, Clare's new secretary, provides a chance for another secretary to introduce Miss Gale and the audience to the other partners in the firm, Manning and Clare.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Tim takes petty pleasure in calling his butler Henry "Hank".
  • Mr. Seahorse: The film ends with a gag revealing that while Sally and Tim have both switched back into their real bodies, Tim is still pregnant.
  • Shower Scene: Provides some comedy when Tim, now in the body of Sally, calls in Henry the butler while Tim/Sally is in the shower.
  • Sleeping Single: Tim and Sally sleep in separate beds.
  • Spit Take: Done by Tim, in the body of Sally, when Marion shows off her stockings by hiking up her skirt.
  • Swapped Roles: Sally gets a new appreciation for how difficult Tim's job can be, while Tim freaks out when he discovers that Sally is pregnant.
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