Third Finger, Left Hand


1h 36m 1940
Third Finger, Left Hand

Brief Synopsis

A man-shy fashion editor pretends to be married until a suitor claims to be her husband.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 11, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

Margot Sherwood Merrick, the editor of a fashion magazine, has invented a fictitious husband, Tony Merrick, because she thinks that men see that women in business as fair game unless they are wearing a ring on the third finger of their left hand. Margot's ruse backfires, however, when she meets Jeff Thompson, an opinionated artist with a disdain for New York, who falls in love with her. Upon discovering Margot's deception, an angry Jeff decides to get even by pretending to be her estranged Tony Merrick. After Jeff, as Tony, moves into Margot's home with her sister Vicky and father, an exasperated Margot asks Philip Booth, the magazine's attorney who is in love with her, for advice. Philip convinces Jeff that he must marry and then divorce Margot so that she will be free to marry Philip. Jeff and Margot travel to Niagara Falls for the wedding, where they meet some old friends from Jeff's home town in Ohio. Deciding to even the score, Margot pretends to be Jeff's crude bride from Brooklyn. Margot then returns to New York, planning to fly to Reno to file a divorce. Her old friend August Winkel, however, a photographer for the magazine, realizes that she is in love with Jeff and convinces her to accompany him on the train home to Ohio so that they can work out a property settlement before the divorce. Jeff, Margot and Philip board the train to complete the agreement, but the next morning when the train stops at Jeff's home town, Jeff and Margot leave as husband and wife, much to Philip's dismay.

Cast

Myrna Loy

Margot Sherwood Merrick

Melvyn Douglas

Jeff Thompson

Raymond Walburn

Mr. Sherwood

Lee Bowman

Philip Booth

Bonita Granville

Vicky Sherwood

Felix Bressart

August Winkel

Donald Meek

Mr. Flandrin

Ann Morriss

Beth Hampshire

Sidney Blackmer

Hughie Wheeler

Ernest Whitman

Sam

Halliwell Hobbes

Burton

Edna Holland

Miss Lawton

Jean Fenwick

Miss Carruthers

William Halligan

Ralph Russell

Marjorie Gateson

Mrs. Russell

Howard Lang

Reverend Johnson

Florence Shirley

Agnes

Olive Blakeney

Louise

Jeff Corey

Johann

Greta Granstedt

Selma

Mira Mckinney

Miss Dell

Marvin Stephens

Merton

Harry Tyler

Martin

Dick Paxton

Messenger boy

Milton Kibbee

Steward

Ray Cooke

Steward

Tim Ryan

Third mate

Jimmy Conlin

Ernest

Jane Goude

Emma

Milton Parsons

Photographer

Joe Yule

Waiter

Philip Sleeman

Head waiter

May Mcavoy

Girl operator

Forbes Murray

Wilbur

Lloyd Whitlock

Herbert

Jack Mulhall

Guide

Andrew Tombes

Mr. Kelland

Grace Hayle

Mrs. Kelland

Frank Mcglynn

Reverend Holmes

Rita Quigley

Elvira Kelland

Frederick Burton

Mr. Thompson

Leila Mcintyre

Mrs. Thompson

Ray Teal

Cameraman

John Butler

Telegrapher

Ken Christy

Pullman conductor

Ed Cecil

Train conductor

Ann Marsters

Woman at railroad station

Barbara Bedford

Woman at railroad station

Christine Teague

Woman at railroad station

Dorothy Vernon

Woman at railroad station

Alice Keating

Woman at railroad station

Art Belasco

Man at railroad station

Frank O'connor

Man at railroad station

John Webb Dillon

Man at railroad station

Ernie Alexander

Man at railroad station

Sid D'albrook

Man at railroad station

Art Berry Sr.

Man at railroad station

Maurice Costello

Man at railroad station

Dick Rush

Man at railroad station

Cyril Ring

Man at railroad station

John Ince

Man at railroad station

Joe Whitehead

Barney

Helen Dickson

Woman in berth

Gertrude Simpson

Woman in berth

Walter Soderling

Man in berth

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romantic Comedy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Oct 11, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Third Finger, Left Hand


By 1940, Myrna Loy was one of Hollywood's top box office attractions. After a long apprenticeship playing oriental vamps and assorted bad girls, Loy had been playing the Perfect Wife for half a dozen years, not only in the enormously popular Thin Man series with William Powell, but also opposite such major stars as Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. In 1936, movie exhibitors selected Loy and Gable as the King and Queen of Hollywood, the year's box office champions.

With that kind of success, MGM was glad to keep on typecasting Loy as the onscreen Mrs. William Powell, and to leave the Career Woman roles to Rosalind Russell. Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) is one of Loy's rare forays into the boss-lady-tamed-by-love genre so popular in the late 1930's and 40's. Loy plays a fashion magazine editor (in tailored suits, of course) who invents an absentee husband to ward off amorous business associates and jealous wives. Enter charming artist Melvyn Douglas, who discovers Loy's ruse, calls her bluff, and sets off a chain of romantic screwball complications. In her autobiography, Loy noted that Third Finger, Left Hand was not her usual style, and credited Douglas for making it work. "In most of my pictures I complemented the male character, who usually carried the story. This often meant that my roles were subordinate, but that's the way I wanted it...Melvyn Douglas helped me through that one. I adored him."

Third Finger, Left Hand was the first time Loy and Douglas had worked together, but they were both active in liberal politics, and were good friends. In her autobiography, Loy recalled that it was during the making of this film that Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, along with several others in Hollywood, began to be smeared by the label of "Communist" by right-wing politicians. Douglas had been appointed a lieutenant colonel in the California National Guard, and "certain factions of the American Legion" objected, because the Douglases, like many liberals, had contributed to the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War. Helen Gahagan Douglas would later be elected to Congress, and be defeated by Richard Nixon when she ran for the Senate in 1950, at the height of the Communist witch hunts. "I knew Mel and Helen very well in the old days, and supported her later when she opposed Nixon....We all fought the good fight together," Loy writes. Douglas and Loy would co-star again in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948).

Loy was also fighting more personal battles during the making of Third Finger, Left Hand. Her marriage to producer Arthur Hornblow was rocky, and she would leave him shortly after the film opened. They divorced the following year. The movies' perfect wife married and divorced four times in real life, but there were no scandals surrounding the breakups. Loy managed the ups and downs of her private life with her characteristic dignity, tact and grace.

Reviews for Third Finger, Left Hand ranged from negative ("forced and artificial") to lukewarm ("diverting entertainment"). It appeared that neither audiences nor critics wanted to see Loy as a career woman, even if she did get her man at the fadeout. After this film, Loy went back to her favorite movie husband, William Powell, for two more films, then devoted herself to war work. It was only after the war that she had the opportunity to play a perfect wife with depth and substance, as well as charm and sophistication. As the sympathetic spouse of a returning soldier in The Best Years of Our Lives, (1946) Loy gave one of the best performances of her career.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Producer: John W. Considine, Jr.
Screenplay: Lionel Houser
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Editor: Elmo Veron
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse
Music: David Snell
Principal Cast: Myrna Loy (Margot Sherwood Merrick), Melvyn Douglas (Jeff Thompson), Lee Bowman (Philip Booth), Bonita Granville (Vicky Sherwood), Raymond Walburn (Mark Sherwood), Felix Bressart (August Winkel), Donald Meek (Mr. Flandrin).
BW-97m. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
Third Finger, Left Hand

Third Finger, Left Hand

By 1940, Myrna Loy was one of Hollywood's top box office attractions. After a long apprenticeship playing oriental vamps and assorted bad girls, Loy had been playing the Perfect Wife for half a dozen years, not only in the enormously popular Thin Man series with William Powell, but also opposite such major stars as Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. In 1936, movie exhibitors selected Loy and Gable as the King and Queen of Hollywood, the year's box office champions. With that kind of success, MGM was glad to keep on typecasting Loy as the onscreen Mrs. William Powell, and to leave the Career Woman roles to Rosalind Russell. Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) is one of Loy's rare forays into the boss-lady-tamed-by-love genre so popular in the late 1930's and 40's. Loy plays a fashion magazine editor (in tailored suits, of course) who invents an absentee husband to ward off amorous business associates and jealous wives. Enter charming artist Melvyn Douglas, who discovers Loy's ruse, calls her bluff, and sets off a chain of romantic screwball complications. In her autobiography, Loy noted that Third Finger, Left Hand was not her usual style, and credited Douglas for making it work. "In most of my pictures I complemented the male character, who usually carried the story. This often meant that my roles were subordinate, but that's the way I wanted it...Melvyn Douglas helped me through that one. I adored him." Third Finger, Left Hand was the first time Loy and Douglas had worked together, but they were both active in liberal politics, and were good friends. In her autobiography, Loy recalled that it was during the making of this film that Douglas and his wife, Helen Gahagan Douglas, along with several others in Hollywood, began to be smeared by the label of "Communist" by right-wing politicians. Douglas had been appointed a lieutenant colonel in the California National Guard, and "certain factions of the American Legion" objected, because the Douglases, like many liberals, had contributed to the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War. Helen Gahagan Douglas would later be elected to Congress, and be defeated by Richard Nixon when she ran for the Senate in 1950, at the height of the Communist witch hunts. "I knew Mel and Helen very well in the old days, and supported her later when she opposed Nixon....We all fought the good fight together," Loy writes. Douglas and Loy would co-star again in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). Loy was also fighting more personal battles during the making of Third Finger, Left Hand. Her marriage to producer Arthur Hornblow was rocky, and she would leave him shortly after the film opened. They divorced the following year. The movies' perfect wife married and divorced four times in real life, but there were no scandals surrounding the breakups. Loy managed the ups and downs of her private life with her characteristic dignity, tact and grace. Reviews for Third Finger, Left Hand ranged from negative ("forced and artificial") to lukewarm ("diverting entertainment"). It appeared that neither audiences nor critics wanted to see Loy as a career woman, even if she did get her man at the fadeout. After this film, Loy went back to her favorite movie husband, William Powell, for two more films, then devoted herself to war work. It was only after the war that she had the opportunity to play a perfect wife with depth and substance, as well as charm and sophistication. As the sympathetic spouse of a returning soldier in The Best Years of Our Lives, (1946) Loy gave one of the best performances of her career. Director: Robert Z. Leonard Producer: John W. Considine, Jr. Screenplay: Lionel Houser Cinematography: George J. Folsey Editor: Elmo Veron Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse Music: David Snell Principal Cast: Myrna Loy (Margot Sherwood Merrick), Melvyn Douglas (Jeff Thompson), Lee Bowman (Philip Booth), Bonita Granville (Vicky Sherwood), Raymond Walburn (Mark Sherwood), Felix Bressart (August Winkel), Donald Meek (Mr. Flandrin). BW-97m. Closed captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to letters contained in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, instructed M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer to delete several gags that suggested that "Margot" might be pregnant. Breen emphasized that illegitimacy could not serve as a basis for comedy. In 1941, the Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio version of this story starring Martha Scott and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.