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Turnabout (1940)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Fantasy | 17 May 1940 (USA)
Bickering husband and wife Tim and Sally Willows mutter a few angry words to a statue of Buddha and wind up living each other's life.


Hal Roach


Thorne Smith (novel), Mickell Novack (screen play) (as Mickell Novak) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Adolphe Menjou ... Phil Manning
Carole Landis ... Sally Willows
John Hubbard ... Tim Willows
William Gargan ... Joel Clare
Verree Teasdale ... Laura Bannister
Mary Astor ... Marion Manning
Donald Meek ... Henry
Joyce Compton ... Irene Clare
Inez Courtney ... Miss Edwards
Franklin Pangborn ... Mr. Pingboom
Marjorie Main ... Nora
Berton Churchill ... Julian Marlowe
Margaret Roach ... Dixie Gale
Ray Turner ... Mose
Norman Budd ... Jimmy


Bickering husband and wife Tim and Sally Willows mutter a few angry words to a statue of Buddha and wind up living each other's life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A SEX-SWITCH COMEDY! (original poster-all caps) See more »


Comedy | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 May 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Matrimonio al revés See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Roach Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


No "name" actors would accept the role of Tim Willow. See more »


Hubbard enters his home with a large box, supposedly containing a bear cub. He calls his great Dane, who rushes over to greet him, completely ignoring the box. If a bear had really been in that box, the dog would be all over it. The bear does not come out of the box until the dog is not in the room--obviously, it was not put into the box before then. See more »


Miss Edwards: You haven't lived yet. Not till you get a load of Mr. Manning. That's something.
Dixie Gale: Is he nice?
Miss Edwards: Mmm, well, he doesn't exactly poison babies. But then I don't think he knows many babies.
See more »


Followed by Turnabout (1979) See more »


(1920) (uncredited)
Music by Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson
Lyrics by Benny Davis
Sung by a chorus on radio with modified lyrics
See more »

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User Reviews

To Live Each Other's Lives
26 September 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Watching Turnabout and knowing it was produced and directed by Hal Roach right after One Million BC which made stars of Victor Mature and Carole Landis, I'm wondering if Roach didn't want to do this film with both of stars from One Million BC. For whatever reason Mature didn't do this one, Roach co-starred Landis with John Hubbard who was also in the cast of One Million BC.

Known primarily for his short subjects, Roach occasionally did a feature film that bent a few rules of the Code. Possibly because he was not in with the major film studios, Roach had a whole lot more creative freedom and is Turnabout he made the most of it.

Landis and Hubbard are a young and constantly bickering couple. He's a partner in an advertising agency with William Gargan and Adolph Menjou. And her two best friends are Mary Astor and Joyce Compton, said wives of Menjou and Gargan.

After a day of quarreling both express a wish to live each other's lives and they express it before a statue of a Hindu deity named Ram which grants their wish. Whoosh, and they're in each other's attire and talking for the audience's amusement with each other's voices.

After that it's a succession of gender bending jokes and lines which come so fast it's a crying shame that Turnabout is not out on DVD or VHS. With those you have the luxury of rewinding and hearing it again to catch what you missed. And this is the kind of film where you can watch it over and over and still come up with a fresh laugh.

For a small studio Roach's reputation was such that he commanded a supporting cast that could and did equal a film from any of the major studios. Besides the names already mentioned Turnabout includes Marjorie Main, Verree Teasdale, Franklin Pangborn, Berton Churchill and Donald Meek.

The last includes the funniest sight gag in the film. Meek plays Hubbard's manservant and he's quite a sight trying to deal with a ferocious little dog that looks more like a bear cub. Absolutely hilarious and there's quite the story of how that dog came into the possession of Hubbard and Landis.

This film must have been in the inspiration for those Walt Disney Freaky Friday films and the Dudley Moore/Kirk Cameron film Like Father Like Son. But none of those could boast a cast like this.

This one is an absolute gem, just waiting to be rediscovered.

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