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The Palm Beach Story Details


As for the opening reels, the principal motivating factor is money. After a deliberately confusing pre-credit sequence (not explained until the film's punch line), Tom Jeffers (Joel McCrea) and Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert) are married. "And so they lived happily ever after," exults a title card, "...or did they?" Well, they didn't. After five years of marriage, Tom hasn't raised a dime with his pie-in-the-sky inventions. Using the sort of logic common to Sturges heroines, Gerry decides that the only way to help her husband is to divorce him, marry a wealthy man, and use the second husband's money to finance Tom's schemes. Borrowing money from a generous self-made business mogul known only as the Wienie King (Robert Dudley), Gerry boards a train to Palm Beach, FL, where all the rich folk go. En route, she is "adopted" by the Ale & Quail Club, a group of perpetually drunken millionaires whose idea of a good time is to shoot their rifles at everything that moves (among the club members are such Sturges regulars as William Demarest, Robert Warwick, Jimmy Conlin, Robert Greig, Jack Norton, and Dewey Robinson). Taking refuge from this rowdy crew, Gerry makes the acquaintance of likeable stuffed shirt John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee), who happens to be one of the wealthiest men in the Western Hemisphere. While Gerry spoons with Hackensacker in Palm Beach, the confused Tom (remember him?) dallies with Hackensacker's man-crazy sister, Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor). How all this straightens itself out is better seen than described, which is pretty much the case whenever one discusses Sturges' singular work, and The Palm Beach Story is vintage Sturges with one side-splitting sequence after another. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:November 2, 1942


Awarded by
National Board of Review Rudy Vallee Best Acting 1942 Winner


Claudette Colbert
as Gerry Jeffers
Joel McCrea
as Tom Jeffers
Mary Astor
as Princess Centimillia
Rudy Vallee
as John D. Hackensacker III
William Demarest
as Members of Ale & Quail Club
Sig Arno
as Toto
Robert Warwick
as Mr. Hinch
Franklin Pangborn
as Manager
Jack Norton
as Second Member Ale and Quail Club
Esther Howard
as Wienie King Wife
Jimmy Conlin
as Mr. Asweld
Harry Hayden
as Prospect
Monte Blue
as Doorman
Dewey Robinson
as Fifth Member Ale and Quail Club
Esther Michelson
as Near-sighted woman
Torben Meyer
as Dr. Kluck
Robert Greig
as Third Member Ale and Quail Club
Roscoe Ates
as Fourth Member Ale and Quail Club
John Holland
as Best man
Frank Moran
as Brakeman
John Farrell MacDonald
as O'Donnell
Victor Potel
as Mr. McKeewie
Harry Tyler
as Gateman at Penn Station
Wilson Benge
as Steward
Arthur Hoyt
as Pullman Conductor
Fred "Snowflake" Toones
as Bartender
Al Bridge
as Conductor
Howard Mitchell
as Man in Apartment
Max Wagner
as Rough-looking comic
Frank Faylen
as Taxi driver
Sheldon Jett
as Members of Ale and Quail Club
Mantan Moreland
as Waiter in Diner
Charles Moore
as Porter
Julius Tannen
as Proprietor of Store
Byron Foulger
as Jewelry salesman
Chester Conklin
as Sixth Member Ale and Quail Club
Harry Rosenthal
as Orchestra Leader


Preston Sturges
Paul Jones
Preston Sturges
Victor Milner
Victor Young
Composer (Music Score)
Stuart Gilmore
Hans Dreier
Art Director
Ernst Fegte
Art Director
Costume Designer
Harry Lindgren
Sound/Sound Designer
Wally Westmore