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The Lady Takes a Sailor
1949 Jump to Synopsis and Details
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Jennifer Smith heads a "Consumer Reports"-type company and her reputation for honesty is her greatest asset. While out boating one day she encounters a secret prototype submarine piloted by Bill Craig. Trying to explain her absence after her boat sinks becomes very difficult as Bill and his cohorts attempt to discredit her story. ~ Ron Kerrigan

Review from NY Times

Published: December 17, 1949

The spirit of Mack Sennett is merrily evident in the new Warner Brothers offering at the Strand. "The Lady Takes a Sailor" is a wild farce-comedy to which Director Michael Curtiz has liberally and unashamedly applied the slapstick. Sometimes the helter-skelter antics are so ridiculously absurd that they are howlingly funny. Let's not kid about it; a wet paint brush in the face, a flop into a puddle of mud, a crazy ride in an automobile when the steering wheel comes off in the driver's hands, etc., etc., can be vastly amusing under the right circumstances. Screen comedy was elemental before it acquired pretentions of sophistication and lost much of its zest under a weight of tarnished bright sayings, and perhaps we haven't changed so much after all.

In fact, "The Lady Takes a Sailor" runs downhill when it has to depend on dialogue. To be fair, though, the scenarist gets across a couple of fast lines open to vulgar interpretation and the wonderfully caustic Eve Arden never falters when running with a quip. But Mr. Curtiz doesn't let the talk get too much in the way of action so about two-thirds of the film is racy slapstick. This spectator was tempted to find the nearest exit when Jane Wyman showed up as one of those frighteningly efficient business administrators who, as the director of the Buyers' Research Institute, builds her whole life and reputation on telling "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the products she tests for endorsement.

But we are glad that patience prevailed, and respectfully advise that you stick around too. For when Miss Jennifer Smith is caught up in a fantastic set of circumstances which label her the biggest liar in the world, "The Lady Takes a Sailor" starts to perk along. Her zany troubles begin on Long Island Sound when an underwater tractor comes bubbling to the surface and upsets her sailboat. Dennis Morgan takes her aboard, introduces himself as Davy Jones and hours later, after feeding her sleeping pills, deposits her on a lonely stretch of beach and vanishes in his submersible.

Miss Smith's explanation of her disappearance is enough to topple her off her pedestal of "truth above all" and leads to a frantic search for Mr. Jones and some pictures she had taken in his strange mechanical monster. The pictures would prove her veracity, but it seems Mr. Jones is doing some top secret Government work and so. . . . Well, there's no point in laboring the story. It wasn't meant to be told without a lot of embellishment which would stretch this report from here to there.

Although Miss Wyman and Mr. Morgan are not the snappiest funsters imaginable, they carry off their assignments quite happily and get expert support from Miss Arden, Tom Tully, Robert Douglas and Allyn Joslyn. You can have a good time with "The Lady Takes a Sailor" if you give it half a chance and overlook certain scenic attributes which are not at all like the North Shore of Long Island.

Featured in the Strand's stage show are The Ravens, Frank Marlowe, Dinah Washington, Max and Gang; June and Martin Barrett and the Strand Orchestra led by Dave Schooler.


Jane Wyman as Jennifer Smith

Dennis Morgan as Bill Craig

Eve Arden as Susan Wayne

Robert Douglas as John Tyson

Allyn Joslyn as Ralph Whitcomb

Tom Tully as Henry Duckworth

Lina Romay as Racquel Riviera

William Frawley as Oliver Harker

Richard Ryen as Apartment house clerk

Jack Boyle as Intern

Kenneth Britton as Davis

Bridget Brown as Hat Check Girl

Sonja Bryden as Arlette

Frank Cady as Mr. Crane

Harry Cheshire as Judge Vardon

Fred Clark as Victor Santell

Russ Conway as Constable

Luther Crockett as Doctor

Ray Erlenborn as Photographer

Phyllis Godfrey as Hilda

John Halloran as Homer Benton

Len Hendry as Constable

Hallene Hill as Flower Woman

Leyland Hodgson as Tour Guide

Leslie Kimmell as Conrad Updike

Jack Lee as Capt. Cutter

Ruth Lee as Miss Brand

Wendy Lee as Telephone Operator

Jack Lemmon as Plasterer / painter at end of movie

Ruth Lewis as Miss Clark

Robert Malcolm as Chief of Police

John McGuire as Coast Guard Officer

Joe McTurk as Waiter

Charles Meredith as Dr. McKewen

Ray Montgomery as Lab Assistant

John Morgan as Constable

Kenneth Patterson as Reporter

Stanley Prager as Taxi driver

Nina Prescott as Tyson's Secretary

Emil Rameau as Dr. Mittenwald

Dick Ryan as Apartment House Clerk

Walter Shumway as Dr. Coombs

Olan Soule as Tyson's Assistant

George Spaulding as Adm. Morell

Craig Stevens as Danvers

Tom Stevenson as Institute Guide

Henrietta Taylor as Dr. Anna Sparton

Josephine Whittell as Reporter


Directed by
Michael Curtiz

Writing credits

Everett Freeman - Screenwriter
Jerry Gruskin - story "The Octopus and Miss Smith"

Produced by
Harry Kurnitz - producer

Original Music by
Max Steiner

Cinematography by
Ted D. McCord

Film Editing by
David Weisbart

Art Direction by
Edward Carrere

Set Decoration by
George James Hopkins

Costume Design by
Milo Anderson

Makeup Department
Betty Lou Fredericks - hair stylist
Al Greenway - makeup artist
Perc Westmore - makeup artist

Production Management
Eric Stacey - production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sherry Shourds - assistant director

Sound Department
Everett A. Brown - sound

Special Effects by
Roy Davidson - special effects
Hans F. Koenekamp - special effects

Camera and Electrical Department
Bill Clapem - grip
Ellsworth Fredericks - camera operator
Charles O'Bannon - gaffer
Bert Six - still photographer

Music Department
Murray Cutter - orchestrator

Other crew
Irva Mae Ross - script supervisor

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