Bedtime Story (1941) Poster

(1941)

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8/10
March Wants Her Back
bkoganbing24 August 2009
I was looking at the Citadel Film series book The Films of Fredric March while watching Bedtime Story and the author there makes the point that this seemed to be something that might have been originally designed for Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. That might be the case, but I doubt even those two could have done as good a job as Fredric March and Loretta Young did in this film.

March and Young both knew how to play comedy and well, despite both of them primarily known for drama. With something like Nothing Sacred among March's best films who would doubt that? As for Loretta, she's every bit as sparkling as Irene Dunne at her best.

To make the analogy complete, there's even a Ralph Bellamy part in this film, ably done by Allyn Joslyn. In fact in many ways Joslyn's the best thing in the film.

The lead characters seem to me to be based on that noted theatrical couple, playwright Charles MacArthur and actress Helen Hayes. The film begins with Loretta Young taking a curtain call and giving a farewell to the theater. She and her hubby want to settle down and enjoy life. But Loretta should have suspected something when March wasn't around to take the bow with her.

Good reason because that isn't March's idea at all. In fact he's written a new play for his wife, but she wants nothing to do with it. She's made her mind up and that breaks them apart. And good old Allyn Joslyn, stuffy banker in the Ralph Bellamy tradition, is ready on the rebound. He catches her all right, but the game isn't over, not from March's point of view.

Bedtime Story starts out a little slow, but really makes up for it in the end. That final scene as the newly married Joslyn and Young are trying to get down to business is absolutely hysterical. The situations are funny enough, but Joslyn's reactions are what really put it over. It's something borrowed from A Night At The Opera.

In fact I spotted elements from The Awful Truth, His Girl Friday, and Twentieth Century as well as the Marx Brothers classic. And producer B.P. Schulberg and director Alexander Hall make it all work.

Rounding out the cast in familiar type cast parts are Helen Westley, Robert Benchley, Eve Arden, Joyce Compton and Grady Sutton. You just mention those names and any devoted film buff can tell you exactly what they played.

I'm surprised Bedtime Story isn't rated higher by fans of both leads. It's a real gem of a screwball comedy, don't miss it.
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7/10
A life in the theater
jotix10029 March 2006
"Bedtime Story" is an enjoyable comedy with a plot that seems to have been borrowed from other, most successful films. This 1941 Columbia release is fun to watch because it is seldom seen and the brilliant cast that was put together for it. Frederic March and Loretta Young are wonderful as the sparring Drakes, a theatrical couple, at the center of the story. The Broadway scene of the times is captured in the film.

Alexander Hall directed this stylish comedy with sure hand. Mr. Hall got excellent performances all around, especially of the two principals. Frederic March was at the height of his movie career and he shows why he was one of the best actors working in films at the time. Loretta Young also has some wonderful moments in the film as the suffering wife of Luke Drake, the playwright of the moment.

As with other comedies of that period, the supporting cast in "Bedtime Story" shows some accomplished actors of the caliber of Eve Arden, Allyn Joslyn, Helen Westley, and Joyce Compton, among others.

The film will delight classic movie fans.
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10/10
A jewel
aberlour362 September 2007
I caught this on Turner Classic Movies, at a time when most of the truly different and interesting films are shown: in the middle of the night. This movie is about as good a light comedy as you'll ever see. The writing is exceptional, keeping the pace flowing and featuring often sparkling dialog. The acting is superb. Loretta Young again shows her broad dimensions as an actress, here being sophisticated, worldly, and wise. Not the farmer's daughter. Frederic March is perfect as the actor-playwright who is constantly devising plans to persuade his wife to end her retirement and star in his new play. And the character actors are just right, especially Eve Arden. Even Robert Benchley fits in well here. The director deserved an Academy Award for his flawless control of the story. In short, this is a delightful film that adults won't want to miss. In a just world, this would out in DVD.
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8/10
Okay first half is more than made up for my a terrific finale
MartinHafer8 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This was a pretty interesting film for me because my wife and I watched it and had rather different ideas about the film--at least until the final half hour which we both enjoyed. She hated most of the film--mostly because Frederic March's character was such an awful liar and manipulator. I think she just wanted something terrible to happen to him once and for all! I loved the film and didn't mind that March played such a cad. After all, the guy who manipulates his wife and tries to prevent her from remarrying is a rather common plot element--used in such wonderful movies as HIS GIRL Friday and THE AWFUL TRUTH. I could let this go and just enjoy. Which camp you fall into might just determine whether this movie is for you.

The film begins with Loretta Young on stage at the end of a performance. She announces that she and her playwright husband (March) are retiring. It seems that they have long talked about giving it all up once they made a fortune and moving to a farm. The trouble is that March has suddenly changed his mind and he never bothered to tell his wife!! And, when he mentions that he has just written ANOTHER play and wants her to star in it, she walks out and gets a divorce.

Again and again, March connives to get Young back, though it mostly seems because he wants her in the new play and not because he really loves her. My wife was yelling at the television at these points--calling March a "schmuck" and advising Young not to believe his lies! Well, being a Hollywood film, the ending was not too unexpected. However, I was delighted how well it was handled. Once Young remarried but before she could consummate the marriage, March did some truly amazing things to prevent this. You have to see it to believe it, but the whole thing is rather reminiscent of the stateroom scene from A NIGHT AT THE OPERA.

Funny and charming--I really liked this film and think my wife is wrong. Fortunately, she rarely reads my reviews and so I'm probably not "in the doghouse"--unless someone would tell her. Can you please keep it a secret folks?!
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7/10
Twilight of screwball comedy:
eebyo29 March 2006
All the previous commenters are right: you'll find some things to like here. Exactly which things they are will depend on what you're hoping for. I think Fredric March is terrific as Luke, for the same reason other folks didn't enjoy him so much -- he's not what you're expecting, perhaps because his buttoned-down good looks make a great foil for his deviousness. Here, in mid-career, March's role is the kind Harrison Ford occasionally takes to lighten up. Benchley's Benchley (that's a plus) and Eve Arden has a great turn as an actress who must absorb withering directorial scorn for no good reason. Loretta Young is where this potentially fizzy movie goes flat in spots. She's ladylike to a fault.

After I saw this movie on TCM I decided it must've been written as a Powell-Loy vehicle -- theirs is the kind of chemistry that would've put more zip in this script. But March's performance is a treat.
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8/10
Thoroughly Enjoy This Movie
misctidsandbits30 December 2012
Whatever you may think about this movie as it goes along, most will agree that the ending is absolutely hilarious -- Fredric March working his one-man phone bank from the lobby directing havoc to his wife's room. I personally don't see any good reason to compare this one with others that may be similar or with actors who have routinely made this type of film. This is a standalone film these actors made and I think they did it well. Fredric March is always a good actor, and he was convincing with what he had to do here. His earnest straight face in itself was more than amusing as he performed his chicanery throughout. Loretta Young is always beautiful, extremely well costumed and generally ladylike and can be enjoyed for those reasons. Additionally, unless prejudiced, one would have to admit that, despite her very strong beauty, she is a more than competent actress. She's the first to receive both an Oscar and an Emmy, with many, many other acting awards along the way of her extensive career. During that span, she has played a wide variety of characters and types. She especially enjoyed her long-running television program because she could vary her roles. This is a good movie.
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March and Young
Michael_Elliott28 February 2008
Bedtime Story (1941)

*** (out of 4)

Delightful and often times hysterical comedy about a playwrite (Fredric March) who will stop at nothing to get his actress wife (Loretta Young) out of retirement to star in his latest play. The story might be typical for this type of comedy but the incredible cast really makes this one of the most memorable films of its type. March is downright brilliant as the obsessed writer who puts his play over his wife. March keeps his serious tone throughout the film but the way he makes it a tad bit lighter than we typically see just shows what a great actor he was. Young is also perfect in her role, which requires her to be funny and even dramatic during a few scenes. The chemistry between March and Young is wonderful and they make for a terrific duo. Robert Benchley, Allyn Joslyn and Helen Westley add great support and make the film even more funny. The film ends on a hysterical note as a riot breaks out in a motel room, which features just about everything you could imagine.
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6/10
Light-Hearted Fun Tempered A Bit With A Main Character You Can't Really Like
sddavis6313 September 2011
For the most part, "Bedtime Story" is a piece of light-hearted fluff, pleasant enough, often amusing and sometimes downright funny. The last 15 minutes or so, in fact, are downright hilarious. It features a couple of very good leads in Fredric March and Loretta Young, and a good supporting cast alongside them. It's an enjoyable watch, with only one exception that hung over me all the way through and prevents me from saying that I found this to be a truly good movie: for a light-hearted comedy, March's character of Paul Drake came across as too manipulative and self-serving most of the way through to be really likable, and somewhere along the way - especially in a comedy - you have to be able to develop some warmth for the main characters; some sense that you like them and care about them. Young's Jane Drake you feel that for, because of course she's the one who has to put up with Paul's manipulative, self-serving ways, but Paul never came across to me as sympathetic.

The Drake's are a theatre couple - Paul a playwright and Jane his leading actress. They've been very successful, but as the movie opens we discover in a closing curtain call speech from Jane that they've decided to retire and leave the theatre behind while they're still young enough to enjoy life. They've bought a farm in Connecticut and the show is over. But Paul has had second thoughts, and the rest of the movie basically details the various ways in which Paul tries to manipulate Jane into changing her mind. Some of the story is funny, yes, but I just did not find Paul likable. A good performance from March (and from Young) but I had no sense of connectedness with the character. Mind you, the last 15 minutes of this are truly quite hilarious. Jane has remarried, and Paul has come up with all sorts of ways to disrupt their wedding night in the forlorn hope that he'll be able to win Jane back. It's a good culmination to the movie, and in the end Paul doesn't get what he wants, although he does get good news - which is perhaps the best ending possible for the character.

This is enjoyable enough. Not great, but worth watching. (6/10)
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8/10
Scene Stealer
pizzgwn25 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
While watching this movie today, I noticed that the 'play within a play' scene that takes place is verbatim the scene in 'Theadora Goes Wild' when Irene Dunne blasts the ladies of the 'Garden Club'. I was amazed to find that none of the writers associated with the story/screenplay were credited for 'Theodora'. Loretta Young to me is always enjoyable no matter the caliber of movie in which she appears. I was disappointed in the casting of Fredric March. He always struck me as comfortable in dramatic roles but just not very good in comedic roles. He had the same uncomfortable quality in 'Nothing Sacred' and 'I Married a Witch'. Though these movies were entertaining it was the other cast members who carried the films.
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5/10
Occasionally funny fracas with a free-for-all ending...
moonspinner555 August 2009
Popular dramatic starlet on the Broadway stage announces her retirement and plans to move to a Connecticut farm with her playwright husband; he has other ideas...and a great new play waiting in the wings. Romantic complications and screwball shenanigans featuring two stars (Fredric March and Loretta Young) who are very charming though very grounded. One doesn't quite believe March as this comically half-crazed writer trying to keep his marriage and his project afloat, nor Young as a youthful, beautiful actress eager to permanently put her successes behind her. It doesn't really jell, and the large amounts of money we're told about--flowing freely from one wallet to the next--is perplexing; instead of anticipating the happy ending, we're left wondering who's footing the bill for all this. Production values high, supporting cast (including great sidekick Robert Benchley and scene-stealer Eve Arden) first-rate. The stars themselves work well together, yet this vehicle doesn't feel tailored to their personalities (March's, in particular), turning a friendly comedy into a rather lumpy one. ** from ****
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6/10
Uniformly Stylish, Sometimes Funny
Handlinghandel28 March 2006
Fredric March is credible as a great playwright. Loretta Young, whom I love, is somewhat less so as his actress wife. Young was indeed a good actress but I don't quite buy her as the toast of Broadway.

The plot is reminiscent of "The Awful Truth." However, if it's difficult to imagine going from Cary Grant to Ralph Bellamy, imagine going from March to Allyn Joslyn! Young's character does it, though.

The Joslyn character is treated no less shabbily than had been (in many movies) the Bellamy. But there is a touch of hostility in it, or so I felt. He is not presented as gay, exactly. But he is a prissy creep.

Joyce Compton, of "The Awful Truth," turns up, as does Robert Benchley. Benchley isn't given much of a part. Of the supporting players, Eve Arden is given the juiciest role. She is delightful.

Everything is right about the production except for one thing: It seems forced. Chic -- but forced.
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To Think What Might Have Been ...
GManfred31 October 2013
This picture had a lot going for it; a good cast, good supporting cast, fairly good story and direction. But several reviewers have already mentioned the miscasting of Frederic March, who was one our best actors, in a role for which he was unsuited - because he's just not funny. He lacks Cary Grant's facial expressions and air of controlled hysteria, and comes off in some scenes as forcing the issue of humor.

Have you seen "Les Miserables" or "The Best Years Of Our Lives"? There was March at his considerable best. Or "Inherit The Wind". Here, he does his level best in a thankless role as a selfish playwright married to Loretta Young, who is gorgeous as his celebrated actress/ wife. The story itself is OK but becomes tiresome before the madcap, slambang ending which saves the day.

As mentioned, the support cast was good but wasted - not enough screen time for Robert Benchley and Eve Arden, who appears here in a straight role without her sarcastic darts. Hard to figure how you can waste Eve Arden. A good, entertaining movie which could have been much better.
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6/10
miscast but Loretta looks fabulous
blanche-224 January 2012
"Bedtime Story" is a quasi-screwball comedy from 1941 that stars Frederic March, Loretta Young, Robert Benchley, Alan Josslyn, and Eve Arden. It's a little miscast but manages to be entertaining.

March and Young play theatrical couple Luke and Jane Drake. He's a playwright and she's a great actress. Jane is planning to retire to a farm she and Luke have bought, and the two plan to spend time doing something besides work. Well, that's what Jane is planning. When she finds out Luke has written another play, she goes ballistic and leaves him. The separation doesn't last long.

Jane comes back, but she discovers that Luke has sold the farm and is putting the money into a new play. She leaves again. For the rest of the film, Luke attempts to win her back by any means necessary. He hires a comedienne (Eve Arden) to pretend to be doing the lead in the play and then in front of Jane, she quits, and Luke "cancels" the show. Things like that. Meanwhile, Jane's engagement to a banker (Josslyn) has been announced.

Cute comedy that becomes a complete free-for-all at the end and is slightly miscast. I say slightly because these two stars are just fine. Young is impossibly beautiful, with gorgeous clothes, and she acquits herself well, as does March as her manipulative playwright husband. With Powell and Loy, however, this could have been fabulous. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur. Light comedy was not March's forte, and although Young did light comedy, she wasn't as sharp at it as the other actresses mentioned.

This is interesting casting, a little against type, which I'm all for, but it doesn't really come off. Excellent work by Helen Westley as a tell it like it is actress and Eve Arden.
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9/10
Under-rated delight!
CrashRiley22 January 2012
I discovered Bedtime Story this morning on TCM quite by accident, and I couldn't have been more pleased. This is one of the most well-written, intelligent, marvelously-acted films I've ever seen, and I'm a devoted fan of old films; I'm always hoping to run across a wonderful film that I've never seen or heard of before, and Bedtime Story fit this criteria perfectly.

Loretta Young and Fredric March have such sparkling chemistry together, and I was most impressed by March's comedic acting ability, as I've always associated him with great dramatic parts; to me, he always brought a kind of gravitas to the roles that I associated him with, so this was a pleasurable comedic turn to watch. The supporting cast was equally good, with the delightfully funny Robert Benchley and a sly Eve Arden injecting real energy into their parts.

I rated this film a "9", but if I find myself enjoying it as much on repeated viewings, I might easily up that score to a personal "10", but I usually reserve 10's for what I consider "important" or groundbreaking films, or those which define a genre. For me, a "9" is a thoroughly enjoyable film that I would watch again and again, a film which gives me considerable pleasure. Don't miss it!
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5/10
Where was Cary Grant when they were casting the lead?...
Doylenf22 January 2012
BEDTIME STORY is an uneven comedy with screwball touches for the slapstick finale which seems like something out of a Marx Bros. comedy. Although the cast is good, the script is all over the place between comedy, drama and screwball nonsense as it tells a non-too-convincing story about a show biz couple torn between the wife's retirement and the playwright's ambitions.

The manipulating role that March plays would have been perfect for a lighter comedian such as Cary Grant. March is much too saturnine in nature to be believable in a romp such as this, only occasionally giving his character a deft touch. Allyn Joslyn, on the other hand, proves himself a genius at light comedy, easily walking off with many of the film's best moments.

Loretta Young acquits herself believably and well in the role of a wife who is fed up with the manipulations of her husband to get her back on the stage. Eve Arden, Robert Benchley and Helen Westley offer fine support but the end result is a formula comedy with mixed results.

Fredric March, although a fine actor, is out of his element here in a role that could have seemed more likable if played by Cary Grant or Ray Milland. His wild schemes to prevent his wife from marrying another man are often on the mean-spirited side and March doesn't have the light enough touch to make his character sympathetic.
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7/10
We know where it's going...and we can enjoy the performances
vincentlynch-moonoi29 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed this film, but that's not to say it's a perfect movie. The first problem is that it's one of those stories where a couple is feuding, and rather than simply talking things out, one or both sets up all sorts of clever manipulations to bring things to the conclusion he or she prefers. Okay, but there is such a thing as taking the concept too far. The other problem is that one of the lead supporting actors -- Robert Benchley -- isn't very humorous in this film...which is odd...that's his trade.

But, Loretta Young is quite appealing (and beautiful) here as the stage actress who wants to retire, and Frederick March is quite good here as the husband and playwright who wants to continue working. I think the comedy works, in part, because bother actors are more dramatic actors than comedy actors. Of course, the legal aspect of Reno divorces may confound people nowadays, and understanding divorce in that era is key to appreciating the film.

While Young and March did very nicely, the supporting actors were not as appealing here. As mentioned, Robert Benchley, a true wit, wasn't very funny here at all. Allyn Joslyn, usually a very funny character actor (and here the "other man" seemed a bit too frantic here, and a chance for a great scene was missed when you only heard about him being arrested at what I assume was a house of ill repute, rather than saw him being arrested; it could have been very funny. Eve Arden also seemed a bit out of place here.

But, don't get me wrong. This is a very watchable film, and it's worth your time to enjoy two fine actors who move toward a somewhat predictable ending.
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6/10
Nodding Off In A Moving Vehicle
boblipton28 March 2006
Some wonderful actors are a lot of fun in a curiously unengaging screwball comedy. The cast is a great one: Fredric March and Loretta Young in the leads, with Robert Benchley, Eve Arden, the unfortunately forgotten Allyn Joslyn and Joyce Compton as a blonde bimbo. It has some wonderful comedic moments -- the one where Young orders Westley to sit down and play the piano is priceless. However, the whole thing never quite gels.

Perhaps it is because of the theatrical background of the story: March gives one of his few miscalculated performances. It is impossible to tell when his character is being sincere and when his character is trying to manipulate the other characters. When he is in full blown theatrical mode, as in THE ROYAL FAMILY OF Broadway, he is hilarious. When he he plays a small-time chiseler, as in NOTHING SACRED, he is hilarious. Perhaps it is because there seems to be no chemistry between him and Young. It is appropriate to their characters' relationship in the movie, but it is not, very interesting. And that pretty well describes this movie. Watch it for the moments, but not for the movie.
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7/10
This flick suggests that lots of guys should encourage their wives . . .
pixrox120 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
. . . to get married to someone else for a day every now and then. As the old saying goes, "Variety is the spouse of Life." BEDTIME STORY's "Jane" is a stymied would-be mom, frustrated that her husband "Luke" always is too busy seeding his ideas into his stage plays that will fill the theater to get the lay of the land and do any sowing in her garden. All it takes is part of one evening in a hotel honeymoon suite with interim hubby "Bill" for Jane to prove her fertility. Hot on the rounded heels of BEDTIME STORY's release, sperm "banks" opened their drawers across the USA. Plain Jane's no longer needed to play the mating game to fool their Bill. However, as FIVE FEET APART has been preaching this month in movie theaters, some gals still are dead-set in favor of the "human touch." For such Fundamentalist women, a maid performing "dust" service is of little interest. However, a man serving as husband-for-a-day and performing his "conjugal duties" could easily get her maternal oven baking. The niceties of Roman Censorship may have veiled much of BEDTIME STORY's message for contemporary viewers. But with so many Perps on offender registries nowadays, forcing ladies to stick with just one spouse at a time should be the least of Rome's worries.
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