We’re Not Dressing (1943)

Seventy-nine years ago today, the pre-Code screwball comedy film We’re Not Dressing premiered. It is jammed with talent and show-stopping numbers and overall a lot of fun. You need to see this movie.

Title: We’re Not Dressing
Directed by: Norman Taurog
Produced by: Benjamin Glazer
Screenplay by: Horace Jackson, Francis Martin, and George Marion Jr.
Story by: Walton Hall Smith and Benjamin Glazer
Based on: The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie
Starring: Bing Crosby, Carole Lombard, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Ethel Merman, and Ray Milland
Music by: Mack Gordon and Harry Revel
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Edited by: Stuart Heisler
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: April 26, 1934
Running time: 77 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English

Spoiled socialite Doris Worthington (Lombard) is sailing the Pacific with her friend Edith (Merman) and her Uncle Hubert (Errol), while being courted by Prince Michael (Milland) and Prince Alexander (Henry). She is bored, however, and finds entertainment in verbal sparring with one of the sailors, Stephen Jones (Crosby). During one of their battles, Doris slaps Stephen, who retaliates by kissing her and gets fired. In a drunken accident, Uncle Hubert runs the yacht onto a reef in the fog. Stephen rescues the unconscious Doris as the others flee the capsized ship, and everyone makes it to the tropical island although the princes claim credit for Doris’s rescue. Unfortunately, the only person with any survival skills is Stephen, and the socialites are quick to demand that he gather food and build shelter. Stephen attempts to divide up the work but the haughty passengers snub his leadership so he fends for himself. The smells from Stephen’s dinner of mussels and coconuts soon entice the hungry passengers to gather their own food; all except Doris, who tricks Stephen to get his food and gets slapped in turn. The group is forced to cooperate, although Doris remains indignant and infuriated.

Doris discovers that there are other people on the island when she falls prey to a lion trap in the jungle: zany Gracie (Allen) and scientific husband George (Burns) live on the other side of the not-so-deserted isle. She refuses their offer to stay in favor of getting even with Stephen. Doris arranges for some tools and clothes to float past Stephen, who is elated at his “discovery” and quickly builds a house. The couple admit their love that evening but feel mismatched.

Two rescue boats arrive. In the hubbub, Stephen finds out that the clothes and tools came from Doris and is angry at being the butt of the joke. Stephen takes a different boat than Doris. As Doris watches the princes resume their womanizing ways on board ship, she realizes she misses Stephen. She changes ships to join him, for better or for worse.

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