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They Knew What They Wanted
IMDB Rating: 6.5/10 from APPROVED votes
Release: 19 Oct 1940 /

They Knew What They Wanted

Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Garson Kanin,
Stars: ,
Synopsis: Tony (Charles Laughton), a successful but illiterate middle-aged grape farmer, sends the photograph of his handsome young foreman, Joe (William Gargan), instead of his own, hoping to woo ...

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Critic Reviews


This is the third filmed version of Sidney Howard's play. Previously this was filmed a THE SECRET HOUR (1928) with Pola Negri and Jean Hersholt and as A LADY TO LOVE (1930) with Vilma Banky and Edward G. Robinson.

Here, Charles Laughton plays the Italian Tony, a successful grape grower in Napa Valley. He goes to San Francisco and is smitten with a waitress named Amy (Carole Lombard) and decides to marry her. Back home he gets his pal (William Gargan) to write a letter. She answers back. Eventually they send a picture and invite her to Napa.

Unfortunately they send a picture of Gargan. But Lombard has nothing to go back to but her dreary and demeaning job so she stays. Despite her best efforts she falls for Gargan right under Robinson's nose.

Basically a love triangle story, there's enough humor to defuse the slightly clichéd story. Lombard give a great performance as the feisty Amy. Laughton is hammy and loud but a pleasure to watch. Gargan won an Oscar nomination for the hapless Joe, torn between his devotion to Tony and his love for Amy.

Supporting cast includes Harry Carey as the doctor, Frank Fay as the priest, Victor Kilian as the photographer, Janet Fox as Mildred, and the film debuts of Karl Malden and Tom Ewell.

Good location shooting in Napa Valley opens up the film and adds a nice touch.

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