The Palm Beach Story 1942

palm001 palm002

Paramount Studios

Take a Ride on the Pennsy! Yes, it’s a Preston Sturges-directed screwball comedy from the early 1940’s and while not exactly obscure, the picture has a good hunk of onboard-the-train hijinks to keep things rolling merrily along.

From New York’s Pennsylvania Station, Claudette Colbert (as Gerry Jeffers) is headed to West Palm Beach, Florida to seek a divorce. She’s riding an advance section of the Florida Special, a seasonal heavyweight train run by four railroads: Pennsylvania, RF&P, Atlantic Coast Line & FEC.

The train interiors are mostly sets, but it is well-done with views of lounge cars, a diner, open section sleepers and even a peek inside enclosed bedrooms and bathrooms. Come on, let’s check it out!

palm072

Beautiful shot of a Pennsy streamlined K4 4-6-2 #3768 racing along the four-track mainline (Pennsylvania Railroad’s “Broadway”). No doubt taken from a PRR publicity film, #3768 was even made into an HO scale model!

palm003 palm004

Our story begins at New York City’s magnificent Pennsylvania Station (pre-1963 destruction).

palm006 palm007
palm008 palm009

Gerry (Colbert) stands at the gate for Track 12, pondering how to get aboard with no money for a ticket. When passenger travel was heavy, railroads would often run additional sections of the same train. Thus the Advance Section of the Florida Special.

palm011 palm013palm012 palm018

It’s her lucky day. The Ale & Quail Club (rich, eccentric millionaires all) have chartered a private lounge car tacked on the rear of the Special — as duly-noted by the Pennsy train crew (check those huge PRR keystones on their lapels!)

palm014 palm015

Discussing her plight with the gatekeeper (she does the poor-little-old-me routine), Gerry then gets the good news that the boys of the Ale & Quail have elected her as club mascot (all in favor, say aye….”AYE!!!”).  Free trip to Florida!

palm016 palm017

Her soon-to-be ex-husband Tom Jeffers (played by Joel McCrea) is thwarted at the gate as Gerry waves a sad farewell from the vestibule.

palm019

Our first “exterior” is another PRR publicity shot of a streamlined K4 charging under a signal bridge in the rain.

In actuality, anything coming out of New York in 1942 would have some sort of electric locomotive on the point — most likely a classic Pennsy GG-1 — to take it as far as Washington, DC.

palm022 palm021palm023 palm025

The Pullman conductor and trainmen look aghast at the chaotic scene before them: Hound dogs bay in one compartment whilst the club members take turns dancing with their mascot. In another vignette, the boys drunkenly try to settle up with the conductor, handing over their pile of tickets.

palm030 palm032

Mascot Gerry manages to escape to an adjoining compartment in some borrowed pajamas for a little shuteye, but not before the club members bust in for an impromptu serenade.

palm033 palm035

Just two codgers are left back in the lounge. The geezer with the shotgun (William Demarest) says, “Bang, Bang!” as he imagines he’s pranging quail on the wing  —  soda crackers tossed up by the bartender (played by Fred “Snowflake” Toones).

palm044 palm037palm039 palm042

Suddenly, things go terribly wrong. The boys start shooting REAL ammunition, shattering windows, light fixtures and causing the bartender to panic.

palm046 palm047

His counter a shambles, the pail-helmeted bartender waves a white Pullman towel in surrender. Clad in a Pullman blanket, Gerry enters the lounge to see what all the fuss is about.

palm048 palm050palm053 palm055

 

Spooked at all the shooting going on, Gerry flees into the next car (the diner) and then finds a curtained section sleeper set up for upper and lower berths. Locating a vacant upper, she encounters J.D. Hackensacker III (played by Rudy Vallee), in the lower berth.

The character name J.D. Hackensacker III alludes to John D. Rockefeller the 3rd, heir to the Standard Oil fortune.

palm056 palm057

With much difficulty (including stepping on and smashing J.D.’s pince nez, a running gag), Gerry manages to gets situated in the upper.

palm059 palm060

Realizing their mascot has flown the coop, the Ale and Quail takes off in pursuit complete with shotguns and tracking dogs. The Pullman porters are NOT amused.

palm067 palm068palm070 palm071

After being ordered back to their own car by the trainmen, the club members cheerfully do so to the strains of, “A hunting we will go”. The Pullman boys have had enough. In the rain, somewhere in Georgia, the Ale & Quail private car is set out on a remote siding to the dismay of it’s occupants.

palm073 palm074

It’s morning and the PRR #3768 is charging along (running wrong main) whilst JD3 shaves in the bathroom at the end of the car.

palm078 palm079

Stuck in Upper 10, Gerry explains her dilemma (no spare clothes) to JD3 and the porter. Cheerfully, they canvas the other sleeping cars for donations and cast offs.

palm082 palm084

Here’s what she came up with. Did a Pullman blanket ever look so good? Hubba-hubba!

palm085 palm086

With one final pose, Gerry sits down to breakfast with JD3. Look at all that railroad china and glassware!

palm087 palm088palm089

One of JD3’s eccentricities is neatly keeping track of all his purchases. Soon, they’re off the train in Jacksonville, Florida and buying her some clothes. JD3 considers it all great sport.

palm090 palm092

Having taken an overnight flight from New York, jilted ex- Tom meets the train at West Palm Beach (Elevation 1 foot above sea level). The porter gives Tom the bad news that Gerry got off in Jacksonville with some richo and is cruising south on his yacht.

Thus endith the train scenes.

This movie is a lot of fun. Very much worth streaming or viewing with some adult beverages and snacks. The dialog is superb, snappy and is just non-stop entertainment.

Here’s what IMDb has to say about The Palm Beach Story:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035169/

If you have ANY information about this movie, please contact me at:
Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com.

THE END

Advertisements

About Lindsay Korst

Webmaster, Blogmaster, Ferroequinologist - Lindsay Korst works for a nationwide home improvement center after a 20+ year career supporting computer users. A resident of the Seattle area since 1976, he has had a life-long interest in railroads, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. He is an enthusiastic participant in the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. He and his wife reside in Redmond, Washington.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s