Cast & Crew
Tim Willows, the athletic mainspring of the Manning, Willows and Claire advertising agency, and his indolent wife Sally continually bicker under the watchful eye of Mr. Ram, an Indian idol given to them by a distant relative. After a day in which Tim carries on his business at breakneck speed while Sally lolls in bed and bath, they quarrel and express a mutual wish to change places. Hearing their desire, Mr. Ram begins to speak and pronounces that their wish will be granted. The next morning, Tim and Sally awake to find their personalities, voices and mannerisms transplanted in the other's body. Athletic Tim, in the body of Sally, stays home and creates consternation among the house servants and wives of his business partners, while Sally, in the body of Tim, goes off to the office and creates confusion among the staff, estranges Julian Marlowe, the agency's key client, and scores a success with the effiminate client that Tim had been barring from his office. When Sally returns home from her day at the office, the couple beg Mr. Ram for relief and are seemingly restored to their original sexes and personalities. Using Sally's pregnancy as an excuse for their strange behavior, they then set about wooing back the clients and friends whom they have alienated. However, just when it seems that things have returned to normal, Mr. Ram realizes that he has made a grave mistake in his transposition, and reveals that it is Tim who is going to give birth to the baby.
Polly Ann Young
Dorothy Belle Dugan
Robert "buddy" Shaw
Mauboussin, Trabert & Hoeffer, Inc.
W. L. Stevens
Sally arrives at work in Tim's body but with her feminine voice and swishy manner intact, shocking Tim's advertising agency partners, the droll, dipsomaniac Phil Manning (Adolphe Menjou) and slow-witted Joel Clare (William Gargan).
Carole Landis and John Hubbard have a ball with the physical comedy of adopting the mannerisms of the body-switching spouses. While Tim outrages a swimsuit model by stroking her bathing suit-clad body and forges a surprising alliance with an effeminate client Mr. Pingboom (Franklin Pangborn), Sally surprises her staff and friends with her gruff male voice, an ability to devour enormous breakfasts and by taking on some dangerous home repairs including scaling a flagpole on her penthouse rooftop.
Based on a novel by Thorne Smith, who also wrote the 1931Topper, Turnabout showed director Hal Roach's finesse with the comedy genre. Roach produced two other Thorne Smith novels including Topper (1937) and Topper Takes a Trip (1938). A CBS television show "Turnabout" which aired from January to March 1979 and starred Sharon Gless and John Schuck was also inspired by Smith's novel.
Turnabout had some issues with the censors with the Legion of Decency originally giving the film an objectionable "B" rating. Joseph Breen, director of the Production Code Administration, had several specific problems with the film. For one thing, Breen objected to the ending, in which Tim reveals that, in all the body switching, he rather than Sally has wound up pregnant. Breen also took issue with Franklin Pangborn's character, a hosiery merchant, whom Breen called "pansyish."
While admitting that the movie audience at the Roxy giggled and guffawed over the film a New York Times critic called Turnabout "as subtle as a five-cent stogie and just as aromatic."
The film also features Roach's daughter Margaret Roach as Dixie Gale, a honey-voiced Southern belle who joins the advertising agency as Joel Clare's secretary and adds to the ensuing comic mayhem with her ditzy charms.
Producer, director, screenwriter Roach, whose previous careers included mule skinning and gold prospecting, had his first taste of Hollywood as a stuntman, extra and bit player at Universal. In 1915, using a small inheritance, Roach started his own film company and hired a fledgling comic named Harold Lloyd to star in several short films. Will Rogers and Laurel and Hardy eventually joined Roach's comic retinue and later, the Our Gang comedy team. Able to successfully make the transition to both sound and then feature films, Roach eventually even tried his hand at television production, until his company finally closed in the late 1950s.
Producer: Hal Roach
Director: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Berne Giler, Rian James, John McClain, Mickell Novack, Thorne Smith (novel)
Cinematography: Norbert Brodine
Film Editing: Bert Jordan
Art Direction: Nicolai Remisoff
Music: Arthur Morton
Cast: Adolphe Menjou (Phil Manning), Carole Landis (Sally Willows), John Hubbard (Tim Willows), William Gargan (Joel Clare), Verree Teasdale (Laura Bannister), Mary Astor (Marion Manning).
by Felicia Feaster
Materials contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library disclose that the Legion of Decency gave the film an objectionable "B" rating and demanded that the ending, in which the husband remains pregnant, be cut. Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, also objected to the ending because it implied that "the sex organs of the married couple were still switched." Breen also protested that the characterization of Franklin Pangborn's character was too "pansyish." According to modern sources, actress Yolande Donlan made her motion picture debut in this film in a small role. This was the third Thorne Smith novel produced by Hal Roach. Smith also wrote the novels for Roach's Topper films. A television show, Turnabout, loosely inspired by the Thorne Smith novel and this film appeared on the CBS television network from 26 January-March 30, 1979, starring Sharon Gless and John Schuck.