For Reel


Turnabout (1940)
December 3, 2013, 6:22 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Hal Roach
3 Stars
TurnaboutBased on a novel by Thorne Smith (who also wrote the novels which Topper and I Married a Witch were adapted from), Turnabout is a mildly endearing comedy with a premise that runs thin quickly. A constantly bickering couple (John Hubbard and Carole Landis) are convinced that their partner has the easier life and wish upon an ancient Indian bust to switch bodies. Their wish is granted, but as expected from any of these body switch comedies things don’t go so smoothly. The gimmick is taken to its fullest in that Hubbard and Landis change everything including their voices, wardrobes, and gestures–Hubbard, in particular, gives an absurd camp performance in his imitation of Landis. Seeing a man talk with a woman’s voice is only an amusing novelty for so long, and like Topper the film is so pleased with its conceit that it settles for the laziest gags. What makes the picture watchable, however, is the remarkable supporting cast, which includes Adolphe Menjou (although he is the biggest star of the picture, it is surprising to see that he is top-billed) as a gruff advertising partner, Mary Astor as his snobbish wife, and the terrific Donald Meek as the confused butler, who in one scene has to wrestle a bear cub.

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