The Doughgirls (1944)

Vivian (Jane Wyman) is newly married to Arthur Halstead (Jack Carson) and they’re headed to Washington, D.C. Arthur will be working there, as aide to the Administrator of Inter-Bureau Coordination.

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Upon arriving in D.C., Arthur and Vivian find that their hotel room is still occupied by its previous tenants, Julian (John Ridgely) and Edna Cadman (Ann Sheridan). Edna is furious to be thrown out, as she and Julian have nowhere else to stay, thanks to the housing shortage. When she realizes Vivian is the new tenant, though, she’s hopeful. They’re old friends from the chorus line! Surely, they can work out an arrangement to share the suite.

Things get more complicated when Nan (Alexis Smith), another showgirl from Vivian’s past, recognizes Vivian’s dog Duke in the lobby and swiftly decides she should also stay in the suite.

It’s a full house in that D.C. hotel as Vivian tries to get the place cleared out for Arthur, but her old pals remain devoted to the idea of sharing the suite.

The Doughgirls was directed by James V. Kern. The screenplay was written by Kern and Sam Hellman with additional dialogue by Wilkie Mahoney. It was based on a play by Joseph Fields.

This is one of many “DC housing shortage” comedies of the World War II era. Apartment-sharing and intense competition over empty apartments are mined for laughs, with a frenzy breaking out every time a potential vacancy is announced!

I found this to be a very fun take on the familiar subject matter, thanks to its all-star cast of actresses. Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith, and Eve Arden bring a variety of women to life, from an air-headed newlywed, to a former showgirl caught in a love triangle, to a Russian army officer.

Wyman and Sheridan are great to watch together. They’re quite the opposites, and a bit snarky toward one another as a result. Sheridan’s character is full of sarcastic wit, and she had me cracking up throughout the film. Wyman’s character is the airhead, very reminiscent of Penny Singleton’s title character in the Blondie films.

Alexis Smith rounds out the trio of former chorus girls reunited by the housing crisis, bringing plenty of laughs. Eve Arden is a caricature of the typical tough Russian lady, but she seems to be having tons of fun with the role, which makes it fun to watch.

The Doughgirls is fast-paced and packed with intended laughs, many of which land successfully. Some of the gags are overused or drawn out a bit too long, but all in all the film is just pure enjoyment, with great performances and chemistry in the core friendships. Recommended!

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