Hedy Lamarr has a problem and it has to do with immigration!! It’s 1941, the Nazis are invading Europe and Hedy(Johnny Jones(why Johnny is her name is never explained…nickname for Johanna???), has managed to flee Austria to live in the United States. Johnny is settled in NYC in a gorgeous apartment as she is the new love interest of a married publisher, Mr. Bart Kendricks(Ian Hunter), who is in what is termed an “Open Marriage”. His wife, Diana(Verree Teasdale) has dinner and dancing evenings planned out almost every night with some new guy in her life, so why shouldn’t Bart pursue the beautiful Viennese refugee and pay for her gorgeous apartment? Johnny’s problem arises one evening when the Immigration Office sends an investigator(Barton MacLane), over who tells Johnny that her temporary 3 month visa has expired. She’ll have to be deported. Johnny, with tear-filled eyes, pleads with the investigator and at the sight of such a beautiful damsel in distress, the investigator has a change of heart. He tells Johnny that if she can get married in one week to an American guy, then she can remain.
James Stewart has a problem too. He’s Bill Smith, a guy from a rural hamlet in New York state, trying to make it as a great writer in NYC. He’s had rejection slip after slip after slip in his mailbox and he’s sitting in a park commiserating with the delightful Donald Meek(playing a bum who may not really be a bum!), as to how life as a bum is really not too bad.
A sudden thunderstorm drives Bill to the nearest diner where he just happens to meet Johnny Jones. The wheels of an idea begin to turn in Johnny’s lovely head and pretty soon she is in Bill’s hovel of an apartment, asking him to marry her, so that she can stay in America. Bill is stunned, but decides to agree since Johnny says she will pay him a weekly stipend as a way to thank him for marrying her. Bill has her add us his budgeted purchases for a week and the weekly check she gives him will be for $17.80.
Bill hits upon a new writing idea, he’ll write about this marriage of convenience and it proves a popular book idea, especially to Diana Kendricks. who helps husband Bart run Kendricks Publishing. She contacts Bill and invites him to their headquarters. She informs Bart about this new book, about the new writer, and Bart deduces that Bill has married Johnny! He is worried that Bill might steal her away from him, so after Bill receives a $500 check from the publishers, Bart decides to find out where Bill will be going that day.
Bill decides to buy a new car, pick up Johnny, and off they’ll go to visit his grandmother. Johnny had asked Bill for a divorce so she could then be free to marry Bart, but Bill, who has fallen in love with Johnny, tells her that first she must go on a trip with him for the weekend, so they can get to know one another, and then, if she still wants the divorce, he’ll give her one.
This movie is a light-hearted, fun way to while away 85 minutes. James Stewart is very believable as the bewildered and then lovestruck Bill. Hedy Lamarr is great as the take charge kind of gal that has to decide which man she will be with. The supporting cast is good and they give strong performances. Verree Teasdale gives her character a sophisticated wisdom and a hint of a forgiving spirit as she may take Bart back and quit her boyfriend of the week club. Ian Hunter, who I had only seen before in the Shirley Temple film The Little Princess, as Sarah Crewe’s father, has a way with comedic scenes that was very good to view. Adeline de Walt Reynolds is cute as Grandmother, who doesn’t know the full story about Johnny and Bill;she thinks they are just dating, but she gives Johnny good advice when Bart decides to crash the weekend plans. There is also a cute anecdote about lightening bugs and how and why the males and females flash those lighted ends of their bodies.
Directed and produced by Clarence Brown, distributed by MGM, screenplay by Patterson McNutt from a story by Virginia Van Upp. try to find this little gem of a romance comedy. Come Live With Me is available at TCM’s Shop, it’s available to purchase through Amazon, and it is shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies(TCM). So keep your eyes on their schedule!
I’ll end this post with a few more publicity shots for the film.