Leo McCarey’s initial production for RKO as a producer-director offers an entirely new approach to accepted technique. Basically, it’s the regulation formula of boy-meets-girl [story by McCarey and Mildred Cram]. But first half is best described as romantic comedy, while second portion switches to drama with comedy.
Aboard boat sailing from Naples to New York, Charles Boyer starts a flirtation with Irene Dunne. He is engaged to heiress Astrid Allwyn, and she to Lee Bowman. They separate on docking with pact to meet six months later atop the Empire State building.
Dunne slips to Philadelphia to sing in a night club, while Boyer applies himself to painting. While on her way to keep tryst on appointed day, Dunne is injured in a traffic accident. Faced with life of a cripple, girl refuses to contact Boyer to explain.
Dunne is excellent in a role that requires both comedy and dramatic ability. Boyer is particularly effective as the modern Casanova. Maria Ouspenskaya provides a warmly sympathetic portrayal as Boyer’s grandmother in Madeira.
1939: Nominations: Best Picture, Actress (Irene Dunne), Supp. Actress (Maria Ouspenskaya), Original Story, Art Direction