My Life with Caroline

My Life with Caroline

Theatrical poster
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Produced by Lewis Milestone
Ronald Colman
William Hawks
Screenplay by John Van Druten
Arnold Belgard
Based on LeTrain pour Venise
by Louis Verneuil and Georges Berr
Starring Ronald Colman
Anna Lee
Charles Winninger
Reginald Gardiner
Gilbert Roland
Music by Werner R. Heymann
Cinematography Victor Milner
Edited by Henry Berman
United Producers Corp
RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
(1941 theatrical)
C&C Television Corp.
(1955 television)
Release dates
  • August 1, 1941 (1941-08-01) (U.S.)[1]
Running time
81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $503,000[2]
Box office $830,000[2]

My Life with Caroline is a 1941 comedy film starring Ronald Colman and Anna Lee in a screenplay by John Van Druten and Arnold Belgard, directed by Lewis Milestone for RKO Radio Pictures.[3] and represents Anna Lee's second Hollywood film,[4] and her debut in a Hollywood star role.[5]


In 1940, William Hawks (brother of film director Howard Hawks), along with Ronald Colman, Charles Boyer, Irene Dunne, Lewis Milestone, and Anatole Litvak, founded United Producers Corporation. The company intended to make 10 films for RKO. My Life With Caroline was the first of five that were to star Colman.[6] The film's screenplay was written by John Van Druten and Arnold Belgard, adapted from the 1938 Louis Verneuil French film The Train for Venice which was itself based upon the stage play LeTrain pour Venise written by Verneuil and Georges Berr.[3] Director Milestone has tested actresses Miriam Hopkins, Paulette Goddard, and Jean Arthur for the role of Caroline but decided on Anna Lee after seeing her in footage from Robert Stevenson's Young Man's Fancy.[7] While Anna Lee's first Hollywood film was Seven Sinners (1940), in it she was cast in a supporting role.[4] My Life With Caroline represents her debut in a starring role.[5]


Wealthy publisher Anthony Mason (Ronald Colman) weds ditsy socialite Caroline (Anna Lee) who sees nothing wrong with chasing men even after her marriage. Caroline flirts with Paco Del Valle (Gilbert Roland) while at a charity ball in Alpine Lodge, Idaho, and Paco then asks Mr. Bliss (Charles Winninger), her father, for permission to marry his daughter. Bliss tells them they need to ask her husband, and Caroline and Paco telegraph Anthony in New York.

As the two reach the Idaho airport and are waiting for an eastbound plane, Mason has just himself arrived. Seeing the two together, he recalls in an involved flashback sequence a nearly identical and complicated situation from two years earlier when his wife was enamored of sculptor Paul Martindale (Reginald Gardiner) in Palm Beach, Florida. Returning to the present in Idaho, Caroline sees Mason's pilot carrying the bust of her that had been sculpted by Paul Martindale, and follows the pilot to where Mason was waiting.

Martindale, having himself been at the charity ball, finds himself to be a chance spectator of the reunion. He proceeds to the airport terminal, where he joins Mason, Caroline, Bliss, and Del Valle. Caroline blithely tells Mason that she cannot decide now between Del Valle and Martindale, forcing Anthony into a new set of situations where he has to work overtime to win her back.

Partial cast

Additional roles played by Monte Collins, Dudley Dickerson, Jack Mulhall, and Mona Rico


The New York Times panned the film, offering that Ronald Colman was ill used in the film and writing that "either Mr. Colman is slipping or his writers are," and expanded that John Van Druten and Arnold Belgard did not do a proper adaption of "a frivolous French play". They noted that what at one point in the film is meant to begin an ongoing "battle of wits" between the characters of Colman and Reginald Gardiner, devolved into to a repetition of "flot gags," and further questioned why Milestone "should put his usually fine directorial hand to a story as vapid as this," and why otherwise competent performers "should be wasted on such obvious frippery." They concluded that time spent watching the film was "time ill spent."[3]

The film recorded a loss of $32,000.[2]


  1. "Top Hat: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  3. 1 2 3 Bosley Crowther (October 30, 1941). "review: My Life with Caroline". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  4. 1 2 Boyd Magers; Michael G. Fitzgerald (2004). Westerns Women: Interviews with 50 Leading Ladies of Movie and Television Westerns from the 1930s to the 1960s. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 0-7864-2028-6.
  5. 1 2 Tom Weaver (2006). Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s Through 1960s. McFarland. p. 261. ISBN 0-7864-2857-0.
  6. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Grove Press. 2000. pp. 321–322. ISBN 0-8021-3740-7.
  7. Anna Lee; Barbara Roisman Cooper; Maureen O'Hara (2007). Anna Lee: Memoir of a Career on General Hospital and in Film. McFarland. pp. 126–128. ISBN 0-7864-3161-X.
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