They Knew What They Wanted

Like most of the films directed by Garson Kanin, this 1940 melodrama, adapted by Robert Ardrey from Sidney Howard's play, is a mixed bag. The performances of Charles Laughton and Carole Lombard keep it interesting, however, despite the fact that they hated each other and are both somewhat miscast. (It was Laughton and Lombard's second teaming—the first was in the 1933 White Woman—and also the third filming of Howard's play, after 1928's The Secret Love, with Pola Negri, and 1930's A Lady in Love, with Edward G. Robinson.) The plot concerns an Italian who owns a vineyard in California and marries a waitress he meets through the mail; the secondary cast includes Harry Carey and a rather fey Frank Fay.

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