The Feminine Touch (1941)

John Hathaway (Don Ameche) teaches psychology at Digby College, and he’s grown impatient with his lazy students, who seem more dedicated to the football team than to their studies. They’re even growing out beards in solidarity, vowing not to shave until the football team beats their rival, Laurel College.

(Image via topmovies.cc)
(Image via topmovies.cc)

A bit bored of his job as a professor, Hathaway has dedicated a lot of his energy to completing a manuscript about jealously, an emotion which he doesn’t believe truly exists. Hathaway decides to go to New York to shop the book around to publishers.

John and his wife, Julie (Rosalind Russell), go to Elliot Morgan Publishing for a meeting about the book. Julie was the inspiration for John’s book: he feels no jealousy over the fact that his students, including the star player of the football team (Gordon Jones), all have hearts in their eyes for her.

At Elliot Morgan they meet Nellie Woods (Kay Francis), who is in love with her boss. Meanwhile, Mr. Morgan (Van Heflin) takes a liking to Julie. Plenty of misunderstandings and complications ensue as John’s theories about jealousy are proved wrong by the actions of everyone around him.

The Feminine Touch (1941) was directed by W. S. Van Dyke. The screenplay was written by George Oppenheimer, Edmund Hartmann and Ogden Nash.

This is yet another one of those films where I can’t help but open my review by proclaiming, “What a cast!” Don Ameche, who I have adored since first seeing him in Midnight with Claudette Colbert shortly before I created this blog, is paired up with Roz Russell, one of classic Hollywood’s greatest comedic talents (and a personal favorite of mine). Then, in the supporting cast, you’ve got Donald Meek, Van Heflin and Kay Francis.

(Image via allmovie.com)
(Image via allmovie.com)

All very capable performers, and they all do well in their roles. They don’t mesh quite as well as a group as I expected them to when I saw the cast list for this film, but there are plenty of strong, comedic scenes in the film. My favorites are those between Kay Francis and Roz Russell.

There are also a number of very good scenes between Russell and Van Heflin, with Heflin’s character very eagerly pursuing Mrs. Hathaway and she rejecting all of his advances. And there’s plenty of witty and sassy dialogue to be enjoyed from all of the performers involved.

Elliot: “I thought this was a ‘come as you are’ party. Why haven’t you a telephone in each hand and a knife in your teeth?”

Nellie: “My knife is busy elsewhere. It’s in your back.”

The Feminine Touch is not a stellar comedy. It lacks that special spark that can be found in the likes of The Women, The Awful Truth and the aforementioned Midnight. But it’s still a fun watch with a solid cast and script. The score: 3.5/5 (.5 bonus for a really fun silent/sci-fi dream sequence)

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