Retro: The Unquiet American


Hal Roach
USA 1940
83 min

A bickering husband and wife (John Hubbard and Carole Landis) switch bodies and lives (but not voices) after encountering a Buddhist curse. Hal Roach directed this extremely odd 1940 comedy – the only feature I’ve selected not because it’s good, exactly (some would regard it as pure camp), but because of how singular and uncanny it is as a kind of freakish prelude to <![CDATA[<i>]]>Adam’s Rib<![CDATA[</i>]]>, with gay undertones to spare. (Not surprisingly, the Catholic Legion of Decency found it “objectionable”.) It’s adapted
from a novel of the same title by Thorne Smith (1892–1934), who became one of the most popular sources of erotic fantasy and whimsy used in Hollywood movies of the 1930s and early 40s (in <![CDATA[<i>]]>Night Life of the Gods<![CDATA[</i>]]>, <![CDATA[<i>]]>Topper<![CDATA[</i>]]> and its sequels, and René Clair’s <![CDATA[<i>]]>I Married a Witch<![CDATA[</i>]]>, among others). The secondary cast is also notable: Adolphe Menjou (actually given top billing), William Gargan, Mary Astor, Donald Meek, Franklin Pangborn, and Marjorie Main.

This film is screened together with <filmlink id=\"3143\">A Spy in the House that Ruth Built</filmlink>.

  • Adolphe Menjou - Hilary Fairfield
  • Franklin Pangborn - Mr. Forsythe
  • Mary Astor - Mrs. DeLaage
  • John Hubbard
  • Carole Landis
Hal Roach
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