Julia Misbehaves

Julia Misbehaves is a 1948 American romantic comedy film,[2][3] which stars Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as a married couple who are soon separated by his snobbish family. They meet again many years later, when the daughter he has raised, played by Elizabeth Taylor, invites her mother to her wedding. The film also features Peter Lawford and Cesar Romero.

Julia Misbehaves
theatrical poster
Directed byJack Conway
Produced byEverett Riskin
Written byAdaptation:
Monckton Hoffe
Gina Kaus
William Ludwig
Harry Ruskin
Arthur Wimperis
Based onMargery Sharp (novel)
StarringGreer Garson
Walter Pidgeon
Music byAdolph Deutsch
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byJohn D. Dunning
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 8, 1948 (1948-08-08) (US)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,497,000[1]

This adaptation of Margery Sharp's novel The Nutmeg Tree which was also the basis of the 1940 Broadway play Lady in Waiting[4] was director Jack Conway's final film.


In 1936 London, mature showgirl Julia Packett (Greer Garson) leads a precarious life. She pretends to be contemplating suicide in order to finagle some money out of a male friend in order to pay her bills. Then, she receives a wedding invitation from her daughter Susan (Elizabeth Taylor). As a young woman, Julia had married wealthy William Packett (Walter Pidgeon). However, after fourteen months of marriage, his disapproving mother (Lucile Watson) had managed to break them up. Julia returned to show business, but left her infant daughter with her husband, so that the child could be raised in more secure circumstances.

On the boat trip to France, she meets and becomes attracted to Fred Ghenoccio (Cesar Romero), a muscular acrobat, and in Paris performs with his troupe to great success. Later, Fred proposes to her as her train pulls away from the station.

When Julia reaches her destination, she is penniless, so following her usual methods, she gets a stranger, Colonel Willowbrook (Nigel Bruce), to give her money, supposedly for an evening gown and other clothing. However, she sneaks away before Willowbrook tries to become better acquainted with her.

Her mother-in-law is less than pleased to see her, but Julia manages to see Susan, who insists she stay. As time goes by, William's love for Julia revives. Meanwhile, Julia observes that Susan has strong feelings about lovestruck painter Ritchie Lorgan (Peter Lawford), though he is not her fiancé. Though Susan claims to be merely annoyed, Julia sees that Susan loves the young man and does her best to bring the two together. It works.

Meanwhile, Julia remains skeptical of William's restored love, unable to forget the past. Complications arise when Fred shows up to claim his "fiancée." However, when William encounters his old friend, Colonel Willowbrook, he learns of Julia's misdeed. William persuades his friend to pretend to not know him and interrupt their breakfast. The revelation of Julia's questionable method of raising funds sends Fred packing.

Eventually, Susan takes Julia's suggestion and elopes with Ritchie. When William chases after them, followed by Julia, they discover they have been tricked into going to the wrong place. Following Susan's instructions, servants drive away their cars, leaving them stranded for 48 hours in their isolated honeymoon cabin. Julia tries to walk away in a rainstorm, but ends up in the mud. When William comes to her rescue, he ends up sprawled in the muck as well, leaving them both laughing at their predicament.


Cast notes

  • Elizabeth Taylor not only turned sixteen during the filming of Julia Misbehaves, she also received her first onscreen kiss during it, from Peter Lawford. Taylor had a crush on Lawford, and pursued him, but he had been warned that she was off-limits, and finally had to tell her there was no chance of a romance between them. Taylor stayed in bed for days after that, until a visit from Lawford smoothed things out, and they remained friends.[5]
  • During filming, Lawford introduced Greer Garson to E. E. "Buddy" Fogelson, an oil and cattle millionaire from Texas, whom she married the next year.[5]


Julia Misbehaves began with the working titles "The Nutmeg Tree" the title of the 1937 novel by Margery Sharp it was based on and "Speak to Me of Love". The screenplay was originally to have been written by James Hilton and would have starred Gracie Fields. Announced in April 1941, it was postponed later in the year due to Fields unavailability.[4]

In 1946 the project was revived, with Greer Garson in the lead role and with Everett Riskin as the producer, replacing Dore Schary, who had replaced Sidney Franklin.[4]

Julia Misbehaves was the fourth of six films in which Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson co-starred.[4]

Box office

The film earned $2,948,000 in the US and Canada and $1,549,000 overseas resulting in a profit of $298,000.[1][6]

Critical reception

The reviewer for The New York Times commented that Garson was "out of her element" in the film, although the Variety reviewer said that she "acquits (sic) herself like a lady out to prove she can be hoydenish when necessary. She proves it and audiences will like the new Garson."[4]



  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Variety film review; August 18, 1948, page 11.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; August 14, 1948, page 131.
  4. "Notes" on TCM.com
  5. LoBianco, Lorraine. "Julia Misbehaves" on TCM.com
  6. "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
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