Design for Scandal

Design for Scandal

Mary Beth Hughes in the film trailer
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by John W. Considine Jr.
Written by Lionel Houser
Starring Rosalind Russell
Walter Pidgeon
Edward Arnold
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Leonard Smith
Edited by Elmo Veron
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
December 1941
Running time
85 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $558,000[1]
Box office $1,057,000[1]

Design for Scandal is a 1941 romantic comedy film directed by Norman Taurog. Rosalind Russell stars as a judge targeted by a newspaper tycoon unhappy with her decision in his divorce case.


When wealthy newspaper publisher Judson M. Blair (Edward Arnold) divorces his wife Adele (Mary Beth Hughes), Judge Cornelia C. Porter (Rosalind Russell) awards Adele alimony of $4000 a month for five years or until she remarries. After learning from his lawyer, Northcott (Thurston Hall), that Porter refuses to hear an appeal, the furious Blair tries using his influence with her boss, Judge Graham (Guy Kibbee), to have her transferred, but to no avail.

Reporter Jeff Sherman (Walter Pidgeon), recently fired by Blair, offers a solution in exchange for a promotion, a raise, a bonus and an unlimited expense account. After trying to bargain, Blair gives in to all his demands. Sherman gets his manicurist girlfriend Dotty (Jean Rogers) to pretend to agree to marry him in a couple of months. He then sets out to romance the judge, intending to threaten her with an alienation of affection scandal to force her to reduce Blair's alimony burden.

When Porter takes a two month vacation, Sherman follows along. Having researched her interests, Sherman pretends to be a sculptor. To obtain an artist's studio in the fully booked resort town where Porter is staying, Sherman persuades real sculptor Alexander Raoul (Leon Belasco) that Blair has offered him a commission to decorate his building. Sherman then starts working on Porter. She makes it very plain that she considers him a nuisance, but after much effort, he is able to win her love. To his dismay, however, he finds that he has fallen for her as well.

When Porter runs into Raoul at Sherman's "studio", she learns about the scheme before Sherman can confess, and has both Blair and Sherman arrested. At their trial, Sherman acts as his own lawyer and calls Porter to the witness stand, where he asks her to marry him. Under questioning (and under oath), she is forced to admit that she did love him at one point. Porter runs out in tears, when questioning of Sherman - defending himself, and questioning her - becomes too humiliating. A sympathetic Judge Graham sentences the two men to a day in jail. The Co-worker and admirer of Judge Porter, that continued to object during process and still at the end disturbs the Judge is sentenced as well to one day of Jail. So the three of them are put on bracelets together. Meanwhile, Blair becomes irate when he discovers that after he got his ex-wife to agree to a lump sum settlement, she promptly married another wealthy millionaire. When Sherman sees her walking out the court building in front of him he tries to chase after her. But she is faster than him, as he is tied up with the other two. On the street - she is already on the other side, the three man fell down. Believing he has been hurt, Porter rushes back to him, and they are reconciled.


Box Office

According to MGM records the film earned $659,000 in the US and Canada and $398,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $139,000.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
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