Imagine you’re a small-town girl from New England, raised by two maiden aunts. Imagine you’re a Sunday school teacher and the church organist. Imagine that you can barely sneeze without the entire community knowing about it. Then imagine that in the midst of all this, you’ve written a racy best-selling novel that has taken the world by storm under a pseudonym. How do you manage to live your life while keeping the truth from everyone you know? That’s the plot of Theodora Goes Wild, one of the great screwball comedies of the 1930s.
|Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas|
Backstory: Star Irene Dunne had carved out a successful movie career as a dramatic actress. She was reluctant to do comedy, afraid that a flop in a comedy could possibly ruin her career.
To avoid doing the movie, Dunne stayed in Europe on vacation for an extra month! Unfortunately, for Dunne, she had a contract deal with Columbia Pictures and if she didn’t come back to do the movie, she would have been put on suspension.
Dunne need not have worried. When Theodora Goes Wild was released, it was an immediate box office and critical hit. Dunne received her second Best Actress nomination (she earned a total of five) and she became a screwball comedy icon. In an interview with film historian James Harvey, Dunne said, “That film [Theodora Goes Wild]…was the biggest surprise of my life. I still don’t see how it was so successful…”
|Douglas and Dunne on location for Theodora Goes Wild|