Turnabout (1940)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Screwball Comedy, Slapstick  |   Release Date - May 17, 1940 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Most sources credit the Thorne Smith novel I Married A Witch as the inspiration for the TV series Bewitched -- but one look at Hal Roach's 1940 comedy Turnabout, adapted from another of Smith's stories, and anyone who remembers the 1960s TV series will see the creators' main source. John Hubbard, as the husband who suddenly finds his consciousness occupying his wife's body (with a similar switch for wife Carole Landis), even works for an advertising agency, and has a hard-boiled boss (Adolphe Menjou) manipulating him. And the basic plot set-up, in which a husband and wife switch psyches and the attendant confusion that this causes among servants, neighbors, co-workers, employees, and employers, will make viewers think they've tuned in on the long-lost pilot to the aforementioned series. Actually, director/producer Hal Roach handles these antics, which were considered a little risque at the time, with surprising aplomb. And one of the odd results of the movie being so bright and spritely (and odd, but mostly in a good way) is that one gets a disconcertingly honest look at just how little sex roles and peoples' expectations attending to them had changed between the 1930s and the 1960s. Beyond that, there are some jokes concerning effeminate men that would be considered tasteless and offensive today (and ought to have been then, too), but otherwise the picture is a harmless, offbeat romp for the cast, led by Menjou, whose scene stealing is almost matched by William Gargan as a clueless onlooker; and not to be missed is Menjou's real-life wife Verree Teasdale, who outdoes her spouse in the laugh department as a put-upon office employee.