Jean Howard (Ida Lupino) is heiress to the Howard Oil Supply Company. With so many of the country’s men headed to fight in the war, Howard Oil Supply is in trouble — not due to lack of sales, but lack of salesmen!
Jean convinces her father to let her hit the road peddling the company’s products. Since there’s also a housing shortage on, Jean finds herself in trouble when one potential buyer (Johnny Mitchell) wants her to stay in town a while longer to secure the deal.
One vacancy is found, at a court for married couples near Camp Clay. Desperate for a place to stay, Jean enlists the help of Lt. Mallory (William Prince), a stranger, to pose as her husband.
Pillow to Post was directed by Vincent Sherman.
Pillow to Post appealed to me because it offers the chance to see one of my favorite Hollywood trailblazers, Ida Lupino, in a light and fun rom-com role. I’m used to seeing her in much more dramatic fare, or seeing her talents from behind the camera, so this was a nice change of pace in my exploration of her filmography.
The film is full of mishaps as Jean and Lt. Mallory must pretend to be married. Initially he was supposed to simply sign a paper and be on his merry way, so she would have a place to stay, at a traveler’s court for childless couples. But Mallory’s superior turned out to be staying at the same place, throwing a wrench in the sign-and-go plan.
Ida and her leading man, William Prince, both do well at carrying off the chemistry and the comedy required of their unlucky but lovable characters. Their romance makes for pleasant viewing, even if things aren’t always pleasant in their lives, and they aren’t always getting along. They’re pretty adorable together, even when they’re frustrated with each other.
Ida, of course, was particularly fun for me to watch, and not just because I’m such a fan of her. I quite like the character of Jean, a young woman who stands up to her father when he tells her that oil well supply sales are a “man’s job.” She stands her ground, hits the road to attempt some sales, and perseveres through the struggles she faces along the way.
A fun supporting performance is delivered by Sydney Greenstreet at Lt. Mallory’s grumpy superior. Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Dandridge also add to the film’s appeal, providing some lovely music for a few minutes spent in a nightclub.
I greatly enjoyed watching Pillow to Post. If you like your romances with sides of laughter and banter, this is definitely one to check out.