DESIGN FOR SCANDAL is an amusing, well-paced romantic comedy with some sharp dialogue and an appealing performance by leading lady Rosalind Russell.
Russell plays a quick-witted, Berkeley-educated judge who incurs the wrath of a newspaper publisher (Edward Arnold) when she rules against him in a divorce case. Enter Walter Pidgeon as the newspaper's star photographer, who has a plan -- a design for scandal -- which should end with the judge removed from office and the divorce ruling overturned. That's the plan, anyway. This being a romantic comedy, it's a pretty sure bet things don't go exactly as Pidgeon expects. The film ends with a hilarious courtroom scene which is a screwball comedy delight.
Russell plays a confident and highly intelligent woman who is light years from the addlepated role she played in THE FEMININE TOUCH the very same year. It's a warm, lovely performance. Pidgeon does well in his part, particularly when nonchalantly facing possible death as the movie opens, but with all his character's devious plotting, he's not always especially likeable, especially in his early scenes with Russell. It's Russell's movie all the way, and things lag a bit when she's not on screen.
DESIGN FOR SCANDAL has a large cast of talented actors which also includes Jean Rogers (of FLASH GORDON fame), Lee Bowman, Barbara Jo Allen (radio's "Vera Vague"), Mary Beth Hughes, and Thurston Hall. Guy Kibbee is a riot as a candy-gobbling judge, and his brother Milton Kibbee plays a court clerk. Anne Revere has an uncredited bit part as Russell's hard-nosed maid, half a decade before her Oscar win for NATIONAL VELVET.
DESIGN FOR SCANDAL runs 85 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by longtime MGM director Norman Taurog.
DESIGN FOR SCANDAL can be seen on TCM. It has not yet been released on DVD or VHS. Vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release.
The trailer can be seen here.
February 2011 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.