Mr and Mrs Smith is Alfred Hitchcock’s attempt at a screwball, romantic comedy. The director who would become known as the master of suspense, thrillers and horror would have a foray into the romantic comedy, with what unfortunately is a fairly average story, delivered in an uninspired way.
Considering how well known Hitchcock would become for his twists, shocks and moments of tense thrills, Mr and Mrs Smith doesn’t really spark the imagination and becomes a pretty passive affair, forcing the audience to do little more than watch events unfold rather than feel directly invested in the outcome.
This is because Mr and Mrs Smith is so predictable. A couple discover that their marriage is no longer legal or valid, giving both a chance to “start again” which much to his disgust and shock, “Mrs Smith” takes advantage of.
To it’s credit, the plot has a lot of potential and would probably have made a very good drama, commenting on the idea of a long-term relationship, the desire to “start again” (which is briefly addressed in the beginning of the movie) and whether given the chance, people would keep the status quo.
Instead, Mr and Mrs Smith is a film where the man makes many different mistakes and the wife watches, undecided as to what she is doing and not really demonstrating a convincing motive of her own for her actions. Luckily, Hitchcock has cast two very good actors in the key roles. The titular Mr and Mrs Smith is played by Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard respectively and manage to have enough convincing chemistry between them that they are a couple you enjoy watching argue.
There isn’t enough depth here to keep the audience guessing to what the outcome will be though. The characters never stray too far from what you’d expect and because of this, you can see the signposted resolution from the first ten minutes, just one example of the predictability the movie suffers from.
This means that you’ll struggle to care as the events unfold. Hitchcock’s mastery of the camera, skilled shots and innovative ways to present a familiar story aren’t employed here either which is probably why Mr and Mrs Smith fell into the forgotten vaults of history (or was replaced by an action-thriller starring The Pitts).
Overall, there is nothing terrible about Mr and Mrs Smith and it will keep most people’s attention but considering it comes from the director of Psycho, The Birds and Vertigo, you expect something more. Watching Mr and Mrs Smith, you can soon see why Hitchcock seemed to leave romantic, screwball comedies behind him and made his fortune elsewhere.
Rating – 2.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)