Turnabout (1940): Hal Roach’s Comedy, Starring Adolphe Menjou, Carole Landis, John Hubbard

Hal Roach directed Turnabout, a comedy starring Adolphe Menjou, Carole Landis and John Hubbard.

Based on Thorne Smith’s 1931 novel of the same name, the screenplay was written by Mickell Novack, Bernie Giler and John McClain with additional dialogue by Rian James.

Tim and Sally Willows (John Hubbard and Carole Landis) are a spoiled well-off couple who constantly bicker. Tim is the main force of his own advertising company Manning, Willows, and Clare. His wife Sally is his opposite, lazy and pampering herself.

As soon as Tim gets home, they start arguing, watched by a strange Indian idol, Mr. Ram, they got from Tim’s distant relative.

After a stressful day at the office, Tim comes home to find Sally in the bath, and they start arguing. In the heat of the moment, Tim expresses a wish to switch places with his lazy wife, to see how she goes about her routine

Sally wishes the same switch, doubting the strain of running the advertising firm. The Indian idol on the wall overhears their wishes and makes them come true.

When the couple wake up the next morning they have indeed switched gender and bodies. Chaos ensues, as active Tim stays home with the servants and wives of his colleagues, in Sally’s body, while she goes to work, and acts rudely to the firm’s biggest client. Sally succeeds in landing another client that Tim had denied business before.

When the couple finally meet again, they both beg on their bare knees to switch back into their normal selves. Their wish is granted this time too, and life goes back to normal. Tim has to clean up the mess Sally made at the firm, and she apologizes to their friends; they blame everything on Sally’s pregnancy.

When everything seems to be just fine, Mr. Ram explains that he made a mistake when changing them back into their ordinary bodies, and as it now happens, Tim is the one who is pregnant.


In 1979, the screenplay was adapted for the short-lived TV series with the same name.

Running time: 83 Minutes

Release date: May 17, 1940


Adolphe Menjou as Phil Manning
Carole Landis as Sally Willows
John Hubbard as Tim Willows
William Gargan as Joel Clare
Verree Teasdale as Laura Bannister
Mary Astor as Marion Manning
Donald Meek as Henry – the Valet
Joyce Compton as Irene Clare
Inez Courtney as Miss Edwards
Franklin Pangborn as Mr. Alan Pingboom
Marjorie Main as Nora – the Cook

Films directed by Hal Roach

All Aboard (1917)

Be My Wife (1919)

His Only Father (1919)

Get Out and Get Under (1920)

The White Sheep (1924)

Men of the North (1930)

On the Loose (1931)

The Devil’s Brother (1933)

The Housekeeper’s Daughter (1939)

Captain Fury (1939)

One Million B.C. (1940)

Turnabout (1940)