Take a Letter, Darling (1942): Mitchell Leisen’s Screwball Comedy Starring Roslaind Russell and Fred MacMurray

In this gender-bending screwball comedy, well directed by Mitchell Leisen, and unevenly scripted by Claude Binyon, Rosalind Russell, the co-owner of ad agency, hires a male secretary (Fred MacMurray)

MacMurray’s character, Tom Verney, is an unsuccessful artist who advertises for a position as a secretary.  He is hired by the presumably tough ad assertive female advertising executive, A.M. MacGregor (Russell).

MacMurray soon learns that his job also includes escorting Russell and her clients to all kinds of social events. Gradually and predictably, the all-business boss begins softening her steely exterior and he asserts his expected masculinity.

Robert Benchley steals the show as Russell’s ad agency partner, who’d rather play cards than work.

Russell was second choice for her role, after Claudette Colbert took over for the recently deceased Carole Lombard in Preston Sturges’ The Palm Beach Story.

The supporting cast includes Macdonald Carey, Constance Moore, Cecil Kellaway, and Dooley Wilson.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Cinematography (b/w): John Mescall

Interior Decoration (b/w): Hans Dreier and Roland Anderson, art direction; Sam Comer, set decoration

Scoring: Victor Young

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

This was the sole nomination for Mescall, who had also shot The Bride of Frankenstein and Show Boat (1936).  The Cinematography Oscar winner was Joseph Ruttenberg for Mrs. Miniver.

The Art Direction Oscar went to This Above All.

Max Steiner won the Scoring Oscar for Now, Voyager.

Running time: 93 minutes.