Idle Jean Howard wants to do her part for the war effort. Since there is a shortage of men, her father’s oil company has no salesmen. Jean volunteers for the job and despite her father’s resistance heads out onto the road to try to save some company accounts.
Although she gives it her best efforts in her cross-country sales tour, Jean has no success. She finally lands at the Black Hills Oil Co. where Earl “Slim” Clark agrees to listen to her pitch. But only if she wines and dines him first. Of course, Slim’s motives are suspect as it is clear he finds Jean extremely attractive. Jean agrees and heads out to look for a place to stay for the night
Unfortunately, Jean finds herself looking for accommodations in an overcrowded army base town. There is absolutely nothing available until a last minute cancellation secures Jean a reservation. The only problem is, the room available is in a motor court which only caters to married couples. So Jean, manages to coerce a lieutenant from the local base to register with her as her husband with the plan being that he can leave once she has checked into the room.
But of course, as usual in this type of movie, nothing goes according to plan. Lieutenant Don Mallory’s commanding officer is staying at the same place and happens across Don and Jean as the bellboy is taking them to their room. Things go from bad to worse and hijinks ensue as more misunderstandings arise and Slim arrives to take Jean to their “business” dinner. Being fake-married to a stranger can be challenging enough, but never has it been so hard to keep up appearances as the motor court is full of female busy bodies and both Don and Jean’s parents eventually show up unexpectedly.
Will Jean manage to land the sales account Slim is dangling before her? Will Don get kicked out of the army for breaking the morals clause by lying about the fake marriage?
Pillow to Post is a sweet little romantic comedy, that borders on ridiculous sometimes, but is still so much fun. Ida Lupino plays Jean Howard with a slightly scatter brained but determined air. Lupino generally starred in drama films and is a good actress but not one I typically choose to watch. However, she manages to play this comedic role well taking it almost to the edge of obnoxious but not quite. It doesn’t hurt that she slightly resembles an adult Shirley Temple which lends her an air of innocence as she juggles two men and a complicated situation.
I’m unfamiliar with the two actors who played the male leads, but I have no complaints with their acting skills.
One of the highlights of this film for me is seeing one of my favorite character actors Sydney Greenstreet play Don’s commanding officer, Colonel Otley. Greenstreet was known for being fat and several of his films would reference his weight as a joke in their dialogue. This film is no exception as it shows the Colonel on a strict diet to prepare him for being shipped overseas. He also gets the rare chance to play a comedic role as he often played the “bad” man in films. I prefer him in comedies because he has such a jolly laugh and often comes across as a devious little boy.
There is a running gag about one of the service man staying at the motor court, who is constantly on the search for avocados for his pregnant wife. The end of the film has her giving birth to multiples and he blames it on the avocados.
There is also a cameo appearance by musician Louis Armstrong who not only plays his trumpet but briefly sings in a scene where Jean, Don and Slim are at a dinner club.
Pillow to Post is not a groundbreaking film but it is a fun one to watch with a run time of just over 90 minutes. It is available on DVD and occasionally makes an appearance on TV.