Skylark (1941 film)

Skylark is a 1941 American comedy film directed by Mark Sandrich, and starring Claudette Colbert, Ray Milland and Brian Aherne. Film historian James H. Farmer described Skylark as "light-hearted fluff" with the story of a woman on her fifth wedding anniversary, realizing that she is fed up with always coming in second to her husband's advertising business. Just at that moment, she meets a handsome attorney, and their innocent flirtation begins to turn into something more serious.[1]

Directed byMark Sandrich
Produced byMark Sandrich
Written byZion Myers
Samson Raphaelson (play and novel)
Allan Scott
StarringClaudette Colbert
Ray Milland
Brian Aherne
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byLeRoy Stone
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 21, 1941 (1941-11-21)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States


On their fifth wedding anniversary, Lydia Kenyon (Claudette Colbert) feels she is neglected and treated insensitively by her husband, Tony (Ray Milland). He is very committed to his job as an advertising executive, and not only does it take up his time, but it requires a lot of less than desirable socializing with his clients. When Lydia finds out that Tony has sent his friend, George Gorell (Walter Abel), to select a fifth wedding anniversary gift for her.

Lydia treats Tony's lack of sensitivity with humor, but when Tony, one of their parties, "gives" their cook to his client's wife, the snooty Mrs. Myrtle Vantine (Binnie Barnes), Lydia becomes furious. Storming out of the party in the company of Jim Blake (Brian Aherne), a lawyer, who takes a frustrated Lydia off on a moonlight drive.

Lydia and Jim enjoy a pleasant outing, but nothing romantically happens as Lydia is driven back home. With the party now over, Tony is worried that Lydia has upset his client. He forces her to make an apology to Mrs. Vantine for causing a scene. Unbeknownst to Lydia, Jim has been carrying on an affair with Mrs. Vantine.

Embarrassed and angry, Lydia asks Jim to start divorce proceedings. Tony reacts, by claiming he will quit his job so that they can be together. Shortly after, however, Mrs. Vantine surprises Lydia with a visit and threatens to fire Tony if Lydia does not stop seeing Jim. Lydia explodes, insulting Mrs. Vantine, calling her a tramp and a "scheming cow." When Lydia discovers that Tony lied about quitting his job, she is granted a "Reno divorce", and begins seeing Jim seriously. Jim, in turn, has fallen in love with Lydia.

Tony refuses to accept the divorce and, since having lost his job, he takes a government job in South America hoping Lydia will come to him there. At their summer home, Lydia tells Tony she is now with Jim.

The next day, Lydia and Jim while sailing on his yacht in a fierce storm, Lydia realizes she cannot live Jim's "peripatetic" lifestyle and still loves her husband. She ends her relationship with Jim and reunites with Tony as the ship docks in Havana, Cuba.



The film was based on Samson Raphaelson's novel that first appeared in the January 7–February 4, 1939 edition of Saturday Evening Post under the title Streamlined Heart.[2] Raphaelson subsequently turned the novel into the stage play Skylark, as produced by John Golden (with its opening night on Broadway, New York, October 11, 1939 and was turned into a screenplay by Zion Myers and Allan Scott.[3][N 1]


In a contemporary review, Variety magazine opined, "Picture carries several basic changes in story structure from Samson Raphaelson’s original tale which appeared as a 'Saturday Evening Post' serial, a book, and play. But revisions are decidedly advantageous in the transposition to the screen.

Under skillful guidance of Mark Sandrich as producer-director, (the) story unfolds at a zestful pace, accentuating the comedic episodes to the utmost. Claudette Colbert’s performance of the wife (stage role created by Gertrude Lawrence), around whom the motivation revolves, is of high merit, and player takes advantage of every line and situation for delightful exposition. Ray Milland is topnotch as the business-absorbed advertising executive; Brian Aherne catches attention as the suave ‘other man’."[5]

Film reviewer Hal Erickson, noted, "(that) 'Skylark's comic highlight is a slapstick sequence in which Colbert tries to prepare lunch in a yacht during a storm. The scene was shot in a single take, an accomplishment in which the actress took justifiable pride." [6]


Loren L. Ryder was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound Recording, for work on Skylark.[7]



  1. Skylark as a play was also a London hit with Constance Cummings in the lead female role.[4]


  1. Farmer 1984, p. 326.
  2. "History:'Skylark' (1941)." AFI, 2019. Retrieved: July 25, 2109.
  3. "Screenplay information:'Skylark' (1941)." TCM, 2019. Retrieved: July 25, 2109.
  4. LoBianco, Lorraine. "Articles:'Skylark' (1941)." TCM, 2019. Retrieved: July 25, 2109.
  5. "Review: 'Skylark' (1941)." Variety, December 31, 1940. Retrieved: July 25, 2109.
  6. Erickson, Hal. "Review: 'Skylark' (1941).",, 2019. Retrieved: July 25, 2109.
  7. "The 14th Academy Awards (1942): Nominees and Winners.", 2019. Retrieved: July 25, 2019.


  • Farmer, James H. Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation. Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: Tab Books Inc., 1984. ISBN 978-0-83062-374-7.
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