Doughgirls, The (1944): Kern’s Romantic Screwball Comedy,

From Our Vaults:

James V. Kern directed The Doughgirls, a screwball comedy, based on the 1942 hit Broadway play by Joseph Fields.

The film revolves around three newlywed couples, focusing on the Halstead couple, played by Jane Wyman and Jack Carson, and their misadventures trying to find some privacy and living space in the housing shortage of WWII Washington D.C.

Eve Arden as a Russian sniper and Joe DeRita as a sleepy hotel guest, both looking for space in the overcrowded hotel, stand outs in a great cast.

Three couples join the freshly wed Halsteads, and upon their arrival in their overcrowded D.C. hotel they set out for the honeymoon suite, only to find it usurped by the previous newlywed couple, Ann Sheridan and John Ridgley as the Cadmens.

Finally a third newlywed couple the Dillons, Alexis Smith and Craig Stevens, arrive to claim the suite as well.

Also in the mix are a military contractor with no nonsense attitude; a lecherous boss; an F.B.I. investigator; a judge (to make one couple’s marriage “legal”); a group of orphan babies; a Russian who likes to shoot pigeons; and a wandering man trying to find somewhere, anywhere to get some sleep.

The Doughgirls is a raucous, fast-moving farce where the humor comes from the unconsummated marriage of Wyman and Carson, with a great performance by Eve Arden as a visiting Russian.

Warner Bros. bought the rights for The Doughgirls stage play for $250,000. The studio then employed James V. Kern and Sam Hellman to adapt Fields’ play.  They added jokes to address overcrowding in Washington D.C., using wartime references such as rationing and meatless Tuesdays while putting in a White House visit for the Dillons to meet the Roosevelts off camera.

Jane Wyman, though not pleased with fourth billing or the “ditsy” role, was happy with the cast and to be working. Ann Sheridan was nearly suspended over The Doughgirls, when Warner refused to let her out of filming, but she used her star status and negotiated a USO tour following completion.


Ann Sheridan as Edna Stokes Cadman
Alexis Smith as Nan Curtiss Dillon
Jack Carson as Arthur Halstead
Jane Wyman as Vivian Marsden Halstead
Irene Manning as Mrs. Sylvia Cadman
Charles Ruggles as Stanley Slade
Eve Arden as Sgt. Natalia Moskoroff
John Ridgely as Julian Cadman
Alan Mowbray as Breckenridge Drake
John Alexander as Warren Buckley
Craig Stevens as Lt. Tom Dillon
Barbara Brown as Elizabeth Brush Cartwright
Francis Pierlot as Mr. Jordan
Donald MacBride as Judge Franklin
Regis Toomey as Agent Walsh
Joe DeRita as The Stranger (uncredited)
Marie De Becker as Maid (uncredited)