Review: Alexander Hall’s “They All Kissed the Bride,” Starring Joan Crawford

Roland Young, Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas, and Emory Parnell in
Roland Young, Joan Crawford, Melvyn Douglas, and Emory Parnell in "They All Kissed the Bride"

For anyone who found comedy Take a Letter, Darling somewhat tiresome, Columbia’s They All Kissed the Bride manages both to make the same basic premise even less funny, and to present an even worse view of women in the workplace.

Instead of Rosalind Russell, Joan Crawford plays the ruthless female executive, and wooing her is Melvyn Douglas rather than Fred MacMurray. Maggie (Crawford) runs her late father’s trucking company with absolute efficiency, to the point of not always treating her workers right. Michael (Douglas) interviews a number of disgruntled drivers (including Allen Jenkins) for a book that will expose her heartlessness—but when they meet, he decides to teach her a few things about the world that could change this character trait.

The rehashed plot and tired gags don’t completely sink the film, but the clear contempt for Maggie as a female executive does. Writer P.J. Wolfson clearly believes that all a working woman needs is the right man to save them; when Maggie first sees Michael, she gets weak in the knees, a beat that becomes an astoundingly unfunny recurring joke. His romantic gestures range from gifting her the smallest bouquet of flowers to ever appear on the screen to introducing her to the aphrodisiac of hot dogs.

It doesn’t help that Crawford, in an especially rough patch of her career, was never exactly a screwball comedy queen. The much funnier Carole Lombard had been signed on to the script before her death; Crawford replaced her, donating her salary to charity.1 Douglas sleepwalks through it all—he had been through this kind of plot twice already with Greta Garbo in Ninotchka and Two-Faced Woman. Roland Young as Maggie’s attorney is the only one in the cast who is genuinely amusing, though only in cutaways; his one extended gag in the film falls completely flat.

Crawford may have donated her salary to charity, but her real generosity was agreeing to appear in the film at all. Perhaps she expected freshly Oscar-nominated director Alexander Hall to produce something worthwhile, but even a genius could only do so much with this worthless material.

Where to Watch

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For More on They All Kissed the Bride

Read the review in The New York Times

Read the review in Variety

References   [ + ]

1. Frank Miller, “They All Kissed the Bride (1942),” Turner Classic Movies, accessed March 27, 2017.