“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is a rarity in that it was directed by that master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The film pays in ways that only a crafty Hitchcock would know how. The director takes Norman Krasna’s screen play and gives it an elegant treatment.
The idea of a technicality annulling a marriage is at the center of the story. When David Smith is told about it, he sees the possibility of not telling his wife. Ann and David have a strange marriage life. They love each other dearly and they seem to work at maintaining their union as a fun enterprise where they are playful and do unexpected things to please one another. David miscalculates Ann’s reaction to his playing a joke and not telling her about their new status.
The revelation at the beginning of the film is made known to Ann, who goes along with the joke expecting to be asked that same day to run to a justice of the peace to get married again. When David doesn’t act on what for Ann seems to be essential, she flies into a rage and vows to get even with David. This is the basic premise of the comedy. Things get complicated, but we know all will be right at the end as Ann will come to her senses. David also is expected to legalize their status.
The film is a joy to watch because of the two stars. Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery were two charismatic performers that had an uncanny sense of timing. They make a delicious couple that deserve to be happy, even at the expense of making each other crazy in the process. Just to see a playful Carole Lombard giving a razor shave to Robert Montgomery is well worth the prize of admission!
The rest of the cast is outstanding. Gene Raymond plays David’s partner, Jefferson Custer, an upright man who admires Ann from a distance. Their scene when they get stuck in the rain at Coney Island’s parachute, has to be one of the highlights of the movie. That whole sequence after they return to Jeff’s apartment and he gets the “liquor” medicine from Ann is hilarious.
There is a cameo from the director that passes by too quickly and if the viewer is not paying attention, it will be missed. Jack Carson is excellent as the bad influence for David. Philip Mervale and Lucile Watson are seen as Jeff’s parents.
This film proves Alfred Hitchcock could have tried his hand at more comedies because he seems to be a natural to the genre. Of course, any director was going to excel with Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery playing the lead roles of any movie!