They Knew What They Wanted

  • Film
  • Comedy
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More concerned with selfless charity than the title might suggest, this astringent social comedy (the third screen adaptation of Sidney Howard's play) sets an Italian grape-farmer to woo his San Franciscan mail-order bride, and embodies its implicit racial tensions in the opposed acting styles of the central characters: ugly Laughton, unabashedly running the gamut of racial stereotypes (virility-conscious, volatile, forgiving), against the effortless acting of WASP pin-up Carole Lombard. His tolerance eventually conquers her more venal qualities, but the ending is left peculiarly open - presumably by a studio wary of the star system and anxious about the implications of miscegenation. CPea.

Release details

Duration: 96 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Garson Kanin
Screenwriter: Robert Ardrey
Cast: Charles Laughton
Carole Lombard
William Gargan
Harry Carey
Frank Fay
Karl Malden
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