They Knew What They Wanted

Film

Comedy

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Time Out says

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.
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Release details

UK release:

1940

Duration:

96 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Garson Kanin

Cast:

Frank Fay, Harry Carey, William Gargan, Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, Karl Malden

Music:

Alfred Newman

Art Director:

Van Nest Polglase

Editor:

John Sturges

Cinematography:

Harry Stradling

Screenwriter:

Robert Ardrey

Producer:

Erich Pommer

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