Love Thy Neighbor (1940 film)

Love Thy Neighbor is a film produced by Paramount in 1940 which starred Jack Benny and Fred Allen, directed by Mark Sandrich.[1] It features Mary Martin with her famous fur coat striptease performance of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" which is set in a stage revue.[2]

Love Thy Neighbor
Directed byMark Sandrich
Produced byMark Sandrich
Written byEdmund Beloin
William Morrow
Zion Myers
Ernest Pagano
StarringJack Benny
Fred Allen
Mary Martin
Verree Teasdale
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyTed Tetzlaff
Edited byLeRoy Stone
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
December 18, 1940
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

Plot summary

On New Year's Eve 1940, two famous radio speakers with competing comedy shows, Jack Benny and Fred Allen (played by themselves), get into a real fix because of the reigning feud between them. When Fred crashes Jack's car, they both end up in jail for reckless driving. Because of the severity of the crash and the recklessness of the two men, Fred's niece Mary truly believes he has gone completely insane.

To attempt to end the conflict once and for all, she visits Jack's office. However, while she is there it turns out a radio theatre actress, Virginia Astor, doesn't turn up for her audition, and Mary, who has always wanted to be on the radio, pretends she is Virginia and attends the audition in her place. She is good enough to get the lead role in a radio show, and has to go to Miami for the opening.

Since Fred is also in Miami to rest up before his premiere for the season, a series of unfortunate events follow as the feud between the two men escalades. A boat chase ends in both men being knocked unconscious. Mary tries to end their fight by saying one of them saved the other after the accident, but it doesn't take long before they are at each other's throats again.

When Fred finds out who Mary really is, he fires her on the spot. He then tries to purchase stocks in Jack's show from one of Jack's former employees, Rochester, and lures his way into controlling Jack's show by making a deal with the producer. Mary tries to prevent this by buying the share back from another owner, but since Fred is her legal guardian, she can't control her own money until she marries.

Because Jack and Mary are in love, they decide to marry and try to save Jack's radio show. Fred intercepts their plans and puts the real Virginia in Jack's shower at the broadcasting studio, making Mary believe Jack is having an affair with the actress. Jack finds proof of Fred's hoax and explains everything to Mary. Years later, Mary is out walking in the park with her twins, who look exactly like Fred and Jack. She meets another woman who used to be Jack's girlfriend, walking with a boy looking exactly like Rochester.[3]




  • Thomas Schatz. Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s. University of California Press, 1999.
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