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The palm beach story ending, Can you explain it?


BasilBruce
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So I made my sister watch the palm beach story with me, which is good as she is not into watching classic films. Anyway we finished it and she asked so how did the ending explain the begginning? I've searched the Internet but found nothing. Maybe we are both slow but my theories didn't exactly explain certain things if you could explain in detail I would appreciate it.

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More importantly, can you explain the beginning? What the hell is going on in the title sequence? I've heard it explained once this way: both Colbert and McCrea are twins. And each of them are locked in battle in the opening sequence with their alter image to be the one that gets married. You know, looking at what I just wrote, I still don't understand it. But it doesn't matter, just watch Mary Astor--she's the only thing worthwhile in the movie. One of her most brilliant performances. She steals every scene she's in. In fact, she walks away with the whole movie.

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That's what I meant can you explain the begginning after the end. Either both twins thought that they were marrying their siblings spouse but why then wouldn't the original pair go ahead and marry? Or why would the fake twins marry each other at their siblings wedding and not their own? Is their marriage legal? Or did they fight their siblings off from doing the aforementioned plots.

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The ending ? ! I can't explain the beginning or the middle, much less the ending !

 

None of *The Palm Beach Story* makes sense to me. I enjoy it for its style and its stars (similar to why I like *The Big Sleep* ), but if I try to figure it out, I like it less.

 

 

I think sometimes Preston Sturges went "Oh, what the hell...who's paying attention to the plot anyway, when you've got people like Claudette Colbert and JOEL McCREA to look at. Let's just film it and see what happens."

Another Sturges film where you don't want to think too much about the story details is *Miracle at Morgan's Creek*. Maybe that one doesn't make sense because of "the code". But even filling in the blanks that "the code" won't allow to be shown, it's still bewildering, plot-wise. *Palm Beach Story* too.

The twin thing at the beginning is just too weird for me.

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Basil, see if this helps explain the movie. This is from Wiki. But I'm still not sure I understand it.

 

------------------------------------

 

Plot

Tom and Gerry Jeffers (Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert) are a married couple in New York City who are down on their luck financially, which is pushing the marriage to an end. But there is another, deeper problem with their relationship, one that is hinted at in the prologue of the movie as the opening credits roll and then explained near the movie's end.

 

In the prologue Claudette Colbert appears bound and gagged in a closet, but then a second later in a wedding dress, seen by a maid who faints at every disturbance. The movie reveals much later that Colbert is playing identical twins, both of whom are in love with the intended groom played by Joel McCrea. The sister of the bride has just tied her up in an attempt to steal the wedding for herself. The pantomime is cross-cut with action showing McCrea hurriedly changing from one formal suit to another in the car as he rushes to the church. McCrea also is playing twins and the sibling is likewise in love with the tied up sister. He too is trying to steal the wedding. The end result is that the two siblings, not the original bride or groom, are married, and those two were not in love with each other.

 

The two remain married from 1937 until 1942 where the film resumes. Gerry decides that Tom would be better off if they split up. She packs her bags; takes some money offered to her the Wienie King (Robert Dudley), a strange but rich little man who is thinking of renting the Jeffers' apartment; and boards a train for Palm Beach, Florida. There she plans to get a divorce and meet a wealthy second husband who can help Tom. On the train, she meets the eccentric John D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vall?e), one of the richest men in the world.

 

Because of an encounter with the wild and drunken millionaire members of the Ale and Quail hunting club, Gerry loses all her luggage; after making do with clothing scrounged from other passengers, she is forced to accept Hackensacker's extravagant charity. They leave the train and go on a shopping spree for everything from lingerie to jewelry ? Hackensacker minutely noting the cost of everything in a little notebook, which he never bothers to add up ? and make the remainder of the trip to Palm Beach on Hackensacker's yacht named The Erl King.

 

Tom follows Gerry to Palm Beach by air, also with the impromptu financial assistance of the Wienie King. When Tom meets Hackensacker, Gerry introduces him as her brother, Captain McGlue. Soon, Hackensacker falls for Gerry, while his often-married, man-hungry sister, Princess Centimillia (Mary Astor), chases Tom, although her last lover, Toto (Sig Arno), is still following her around. To help further his suit with Gerry, Hackensacker agrees to invest in Tom's scheme to build an airport suspended over a city by wires.

 

Tom finally persuades Gerry to give their marriage another chance, and they confess their masquerade to their disappointed suitors. Even though he is disappointed, Hackensacker intends to go through with his investment in the suspended airport, since he thinks it is a good business deal and he never lets anything get in the way of business. Then, when Tom and Gerry reveal that they met because they are both identical twins ? a fact which explains the opening sequence of the film ? Hackensacker and his sister are elated. The final scene shows Hackensacker and Gerry's sister, and the Princess and Tom's brother, getting married.

 

The film ends where it began after the prologue, with the words "And they lived happily ever after...or did they?" on title cards.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Palm_Beach_Story

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But it doesn't matter, just watch Mary Astor--she's the only thing worthwhile in the movie. One of her most brilliant performances. She steals every scene she's in. In fact, she walks away with the whole movie.

 

She did that with most movies, as far as I was concerned. Her voice, for one thing, was distinctive. Her beauty was ageless. She had such presence. My favorite of the movies she stole was The Great Lie, with Bette Davis and George Brent. She later said Bette had had Mary's part expanded when she saw how good she was, contrary to the usual star's perks. She and Mary were friends forever. Mary was SUCH an actress.

 

I was always fascinated at the idea of an affair between her at 17 and John Barrymore. She was mad about him and when it ended she was heartsick. I think she was always proud of it, though, She describes it in her book.

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Have you Mary Astor fans seen the comments about her on that "Maltese Falcon" thread? Not from me, I hasten to add. As you can imagine, I like the lady.

Good to hear some positive things about her, to balance the insulting remarks describing her on that thread.

Not that it matters really, I'm not going to get into a heated debate defending her or any famous actor. Not worth the battle.

Have Astor fans seen *Act of Violence* ? I enjoy her performance in that, and respect her courage /strength / professionalism, not sure which is the right word - for playing a washed up unglamourous floozy.

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> {quote:title=slaytonf wrote: }{quote}But it doesn't matter, just watch Mary Astor--she's the only thing worthwhile in the movie. One of her most brilliant performances. She steals every scene she's in. In fact, she walks away with the whole movie.

Not the whole movie. No one tops the Weenie King!

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The Weenie King's good. He's good. But for extravagance of characterization, pushing right up to the line of going too far, and seeming to cross that line, but not really crossing that line, just playing it so fine that the performance walks right along that line, Mary Astor is unequalled.

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I'm watching it now.

 

Based on what I've read here, the lady in the slip in the closet, tied up, was the one who was supposed to marry Joel McCrae. But her bad twin sister, who is in the wedding gown, tied her up and is the one who does marry Joel. She is the one that leaves him at the beginning of the movie.

 

Right?

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I still don't get it. Please explain it to me like I'm six years old. A & B are twin sisters. C & D are twin brothers. A & C are in love and have a wedding day set. But treacherous twin B also loves intended groom C. And treacherous twin brother D also loves intended bride A. Without knowing each others plans, both B & D show up at the church and are married. B thinks she married C - she married D. D thinks he married A - he married B.

 

So is the movie saying we are tracking the marriage and separation of B & D, who after the ceremony find out they've married someone else and yet stay married, assuming this was a legal marriage in the first place? And if so, what are A & C, the original bride and groom doing all of these years? They just never tried again and said "Oh well!" and went their separate ways??? Or did sister A just think sister B outsmarted her and married her beloved C, as well as groom C thinking brother D outsmarted him and married beloved A? If so, why wouldn't B &D let them in on the whole thing so they could be happy themselves? If they didn't let them in on the mutual ruse after they themselves were aware, they would have to be the worst people in history!

 

I'm so confused!

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h3. LOLOLOLOLOL

Your written overview of the opening had me in flashback of a biology test decades ago when explaining the odds and outcome for mutation of fruit flies. I passed the test, but it was hard to explain in essay form.

 

I feel your confusion.

 

Gerry (Claudette Colbert) and her twin sister -let's call her Sally,

and Tom (Joel McCrea) and his twin-- let's call him Mike.

 

Now, in the permutations of genetic study here is one possible scenario. There are others.

 

Sally and Mike want to get married. Gerry wants Mike for herself, so she binds up her sister, Sally --and masquerades as Sally to the wedding. Likewise, as improbable as it seems, Tom wants Sally, so he cuts in at the last minute to masquerade as Mike. So, even though they tried to confuse things, Gerry and Tom end up with the wrong twin.

After all that, Sally and Mike come to realize maybe they didn't know each other that well (I mean, your sister tried to jump in for you at your wedding--trust has been broken) and call it day, so they don't get married.

 

That leaves Sally and Mike conveniently single and available in the plot.

It also provides some explanation for the tenuous marriage that Tom and Gerry (get it? cartoon character names) have in the beginning of the movie.

 

Edited by: casablancalover2 on Jun 16, 2013 10:13 AM

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Thanks for replying, and I get everything but the fact that the original bride and groom never get married. Trust was broken, but by the twins, not by the original bride and groom. I guess believing that your intended could be fooled by your sister/brother to the point that they could be married -even if the impression turns out to be false - could cause things to fall apart.

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Are we sure that the Joel Mcrea twin at the beginning swapped with his brother, the groom? We know Gerry tied her sister up in order to marry... I know Joel was getting dressed in the car in a hurry, but was that just your standard wedding day mayhem, or did he also tie his brother up? And if that happened, the two people who wanted to get married would be free to get married once they found out....like when their twins introduced them to Hackensacker and his sister.... (okay, my brian is starting to hurt...)

BTW- I don't really care, I love this movie...

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At the end, the Joel on the left was grinning and so was the Claudette on the left. She was wearing a Palm Beach type of nice expensive dress. The Rudy in the middle was smiling, but the Claudette in the middle was frowning and she had a bunch of unsure expressions on her face. She was wearing a wedding gown of the type shown at the beginning of the movie. The Joel on the right was smiling and so was the Mary on the right.

 

I didn't see any divorce in the movie, so why would the original Joel be getting married again? Unless, I suppose, he had divorced the original Claudette and was marrying the one who had been tied up and put in the closet.

 

I didn't see anything that indicated the original Joel swapped out with his brother at the beginning of the film.

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It appears there are two Joel McCreas at the beginning - one trying to get into his outfit in the car and obviously upset about something and the other already at the church, but I agree it's not as clear as what is going on with the twin sisters.

 

But if the RIGHT brother marries the WRONG sister, and the WRONG sister gets away with it and lives -somewhat - happily ever after, wouldn't this be breaking the production code edict that wrong-doers must never profit from their crimes?

 

I would think the production code would mandate that both treacherous twins get fooled as punishment for their misdeeds, somewhat deserving each other, which is what seems to happen.

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>Gerry (Claudette Colbert) and her twin sister -let's call her Sally,

>and Tom (Joel McCrea) and his twin-- let's call him Mike.

>

>Now, in the permutations of genetic study here is one possible scenario. There are others.

 

Let's suppose the twins didn't have the double swap-- and Gerry ended up with the twin she wanted -- Tom.

 

That would tidy up the explanation why Sally and Mike didn't marry and why they are still single. It would also explain why Gerry would think her marriage to Tom is filled with bad luck, simply for the sake of karma. It would still make me wonder why the Keystone Kops-style way Tom races to the altar. What was that about?

 

It could be that we are thinking more about this than Sturges did. I think we are. His final title card "Or did they?" hangs out there just to promote after theater discussion.

 

He's hooked us.

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