Review: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, that Alfred Hitchcock meant for me to laugh at this!

Story By: Norman Krasna
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

There’s not much for me to say about Mr. & Mrs. Smith. In every way possible this film is a misfire, and it’s a misfire from the word go. I kept waiting for something funny to happen, for Alfred Hitchcock to bring some of the comedic charm found in his films like North By Northwest or The Lady Vanishes to the picture. I waited and waited, and then the film was over and I was left scratching my head. I’m never going to be the person to proclaim Mr. Hitchcock a comedic genius, but I know he has displayed a better ear for comedy that what he gave to his audience in Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Some of the blame for the shortcomings of Mr. & Mrs. Smith surely falls at the feet of Mr. Hitchcock. He has shown a ability to bring comedy to the screen in his other films yet he was unable to in this film. Mr. & Mrs. Smith was released in 1941, at a period in Mr. Hitchcock’s career where I have found him to be very dour and serious. That may explain why a lot of the comedic bits in Mr. & Mrs. Smith don’t just miss their mark, they never get off the launching pad. Mr. & Mrs. Smith was one film removed from Rebecca, a film so dour and serious that it made me question whether Mr. Hitchcock had any humanity in him when he directed that picture. I have yet to see the film in between Rebecca and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Foreign Correspondent. Maybe that movie will debunk my theory of Mr. Hitchcock being too serious over this small span of his films. Even if Foreign Correspondent brings back some of the liveliness I know Mr. Hitchcock is capable of it won’t change the fact that Mr. & Mrs. Smith is about as funny as a line reading of the yellow pages.

The rest of the blame for the inability of Mr. & Mrs. Smith to garner laughs or create interesting characters rests upon the shoulders of the films writer, Norman Krasna. I’m not familiar with Mr. Krasna’s body of work, this is the first film I have seen of his. Mr. & Mrs. Smith certainly doesn’t make me keen to explore the rest of the films he has written. There’s no life to any of his characters, there’s no verve to be found in the dialogue he puts in his characters mouths. There were times when I was about to chuckle at something on screen and then the film would stop dead because of a flat piece of dialogue. If the dialogue found in Mr. & Mrs. Smith is an indication of the style typically employed by Mr. Krasna then I don’t see much of a future between he and I.

As I said in the beginning of my critique of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, I don’t have an awful lot to say. Alfred Hitchcock may be one of my favorite directors, but Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a huge swing and miss on his part. Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a terribly unfunny venture, and it’s as interesting as a tube of toothpaste. Mr. Hitchcock made a career out of always being interesting, that’s why it’s so easy to be disappointed with Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I can only recommend Mr. & Mrs. Smith to fellow Hitchcock completists, but my brethren will get no joy out of this boring and bland effort from the portly Brit.

Rating:

**

Cheers,
Bill

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4 responses to “Review: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

  1. And there I was expecting a huge picture of Angelina Jolie when I clicked on the link from my blog. I didn’t know this was a Hitchcock film. It’s clearly some of his lesser works since no one ever talks about it. In fact, there are other lesser works of his (Marnie) that enter the conversations a lot more than this one…

  2. It’s definitely lesser, I forgot it was a Hitchcock film, then I watched it and I again forgot it was a Hitchcock film.

  3. I agree entirely, Bill. Mr & Mrs Smith is possibly Hitchcock’s biggest misfire. He’s one of my favourite directors and I always admired how he could spin his influences into something special, such as his possible response to Realism in The Wrong Man, or Noir in Vertigo. If this was his Romantic Comedy effort than it’s the only genre he failed at trying.

    I believe the story goes he was desperate to work with Lombard, who was a friend and this was rushed out. Interesting though how you mention this being his most serious period. He was an Englishman trapped abroad worrying about his family as war had broken out and communication with his mother was very limited. This seems to inform his work.

    As such, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with Foreign Correspondent. It is lively, ironic, faintly political and ultimately, passionate. Not perfect, but a film I think ahead, and of, its time.

  4. Thanks for the feedback Jon, and I look forward to Foreign Correspondent. Then again, I look forward to any Hitchcock, even his misfires intrigue me ūüôā

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