Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942): Leo McCarey’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers

In Once Upon a Honeymoon, with the U.S. in war, Leo McCarey pays tribute to the new political reality by keeping the tale largely in Nazi-occupied Europe.

But clearly his heart is in the romantic serio-comedy, which revolves around a triangle.

Ginger Rogers, then fresh off her Best Actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle, gets star billing over her leading man, Cary Grant, with Walter Slezak (in his first American film) serving as the third wheel.

The plot is preposterous, but McCarey keeps things moving fast, again relying on the charm of his new stars.

This is the only film that Cary Grant made with Ginger Rogers.

Rogers plays Katie O’Hara, an American burlesque performer, masquerading as American socialite “Katherine Butt-Smith,” about to marry Austrian Baron Von Luber (Walter Slezak).

Grant is foreign correspondent Pat O’Toole, who suspects that Von Luber is a Nazi sympathizer. He tries but fails to get information from Katie by deceit.

Undaunted, O’Toole follows the couple to Prague, where O’Hara and Von Luber marry. After Germany occupies Czecholovakia, the Von Lubers travel to Warsaw, where the Baron sells arms to Polish General Borelski (Albert Basserman).

O’Toole warns the General of the dangers of trusting Von Luber. Upon trying the weapons, the General realizes they are duds and plans to notify his government.

When the Germans invade Poland, the weapons prove to be defective. Von Luber is arrested on suspicion but warns his young bride not to worry because no one had seen him. T

The General is assassinated along with a young Nazi the Baron has chosen to sacrifice. While the Baron is in jail, O’Hara and O’Toole decide to flee the country. However, O’Hara has given her passport to her Jewish maid Anna, so that the woman and her two children to escape the country.

O’Hara and O’Toole escape to Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Paris, where they get new passports. They meet Gaston Le Blanc (Albert Dekker), an American counter-intelligence agent posing as a photographer. LeBlanc persuades O’Hara to return to the Baron and work as a spy.

Von Luber becomes suspicious due to O’Hara’s interrogation, and O’Toole agrees to broadcast pro-Nazi propaganda after the Baron threatens to turn O’Hara over to the Gestapo.

O’Toole is then contacted by American counterintelligence who ask him to accept the offer and betray the Baron. When O’Hara is found with LeBlanc, she is placed under house arrest. Anna finds her in the hotel and aids in her escape.

O’Toole goes on the air, but after O’Hara shows up at the studio, he cleverly makes it look as if the Baron was trying to overthrow Hitler. Von Luber is arrested, and Pat and Katie sneak away.

 

They board a ship for America, but Katie runs into Von Luber on board, on his way to the U.S. for subversive activities. They struggle and Von Luber falls overboard.

The Captain turns the ship around to search for Von Luber, but when O’Hara says that Von Luber cannot swim, the Captain happily turns the ship back towards the U.S.

Oscar Context

The film was nominated for the Best Sound Recording Oscar for Stephen Dunn, but did not win.