Maid’s Night Out (1938): Romantic Comedy Starring Joan Fontaine and Hedda Hopper

RKO, grooming Joan Fontaine to be a star, made Maid’s Night Out, a modest romantic comedy directed by Ben Holmes from a screenplay by Bert Granet, based on the radio play “Certified” by Willoughby Speyers.

Allan Lane plays playboy Bill Norman, aiming to go on a six-month expedition to study tropical fish, but his wealthy businessman father (George Irving) wants him to buckle down.

When Mr. Norman catches Bill trying to “borrow” his yacht, they make a wager. If Bill works for 30 days at the family dairy business without a single mistake, Mr. Norman will finance his expedition. Norman assumes he will be an executive, but his father makes him deliver milk.

On his route, he meets Sheila Harrison (Joan Fontaine), a socialite mistaken for a maid. She and her mother (Hedda Hopper) are in deep financial trouble, unable to pay their bills or their maid Mary.

Mrs. Harrison hopes that Sheila would marry the wealthy Wally Martin, but Sheila does not like him.  Sheila does not care for Bill either, but he eventually wins her affections.

However, when Sheila is pressured by her mother to break her date with Bill to attend a charity ball with Wally, she meets Bill with his beautiful cousin Adele.

Adele overhears Sheila deny she is engaged, and tells Bill. Tim Hogan (Eddie Gribbon), a fellow milk deliveryman, drives Bill to Sheila’s home to try to speak to her, but the police arrests Bill.

Hogan convinces Sheila that Bill loves her, and he reveals who Bill is. Mary spots them leaving in Hogan’s milk truck, and assuming Sheila is kidnapped, the police are alerted.

Sheila puts on a uniform to deliver the milk on the last day of the bet. Bill gets bailed out and catches up with Sheila. Chased by the police, they complete Bill’s rounds and return to the dairy to win the bet.

Mr. Norman and Mrs. Harrison recognize each other, and approve of Bill and Sheila’s relationship.

End Note:

TCM showed this rarely seen film on March 28, 2019.