No Time for Comedy

No Time for Comedy is a 1940 American comedy-drama film based on the play of the same name by S. N. Behrman, starring James Stewart, Rosalind Russell, Genevieve Tobin and Charlie Ruggles.

No Time for Comedy
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Keighley
Produced byJack L. Warner
Screenplay byJulius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Based onNo Time for Comedy
1939 play
by S.N. Behrman
StarringJames Stewart
Rosalind Russell
Genevieve Tobin
Charlie Ruggles
Lawrence Grossmith
Louise Beavers
Music byHeinz Roemheld
CinematographyErnest Haller
Edited byOwen Marks
Distributed byWarner Brothers
Release date
  • September 14, 1940 (1940-09-14)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States

Plot summary

Gaylord Esterbrook (Stewart), a reporter from Redfield, Minnesota (pop. 786, including livestock), writes a play about Park Avenue high society, even though he has never been to New York City. The play is being staged, but needs rewriting, so the producers bring Gaylord to New York. He meets the leading lady, Linda Paige (Russell), who initially mistakes him for an usher. The producer eventually loses faith in the play, but Linda persuades the other actors to continue on a cooperative basis. It becomes a success, and Gaylord and Linda get married. Gaylord proceeds to have four hits in four years, all starring Linda.

After his most recent hit, Gaylord meets Amanda Swift (Tobin) at a party. She feels that his talents are being wasted writing comedies. At her urging, he writes a tragedy about immortality called The Way of the World. The play has no part for Linda. Gaylord eventually decides to divorce Linda and marry Amanda. Linda then decides to marry Amanda’s husband, Philo (Ruggles).

The Way of the World is a flop, with audiences laughing at unintentionally funny lines, prompting Amanda to drop Gaylord. However, Linda supports Gaylord in his time of need and they reconcile. She gets the idea for a comedy about smug, contemptible, callous stuffed shirts who think that dictators are inevitable and the average man is bloodthirsty and contemptible. Gaylord and Linda decide to start over, and even act out their initial meeting: Gaylord offers to buy Linda cigarettes as if he were an usher.


Stage play

S. N. Behrman's play opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on April 17, 1939, and ran for 179 performances. The cast included Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Esterbrook and Katharine Cornell as Linda Paige, and was directed by Cornell's husband Guthrie McClintic.

Olivier starred in this play in New York while his lover, Vivien Leigh, was filming Gone With the Wind in Hollywood, causing Leigh stress due to their separation, and according to GWTW lore, influenced her portrayal as Scarlett O'Hara and according to her personal assistant at the time, hurry production so she could be reunited with him.[1]

Radio adaptations

February 9, 1941Gulf Screen Guild TheatreNorma Shearer, Mary Astor, Walter Abel, Hattie McDaniel[2]
June 12, 1942Philip Morris PlayhouseMelvyn Douglas[3]
December 10, 1946Hollywood PlayersGregory Peck[4]
March 9, 1947Theatre Guild on the AirFlorence Eldridge, Frances Fuller, Fredric March[2]
October 18, 1953Star PlayhouseRex Harrison, Lili Palmer[5]


  1. Gone With the Wind DVD commentary
  2. "Abel, Walter". radioGOLDINdex. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  3. "Philip Morris Playhouse". Harrisburg Telegraph. June 12, 1942. p. 13. Retrieved August 2, 2015 via
  4. "Tuesday Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. December 7, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 12, 2015 via
  5. Kirby, Walter (October 18, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved July 6, 2015 via
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