The Mating Season (film)

The Mating Season is a 1951 film made by Paramount Pictures. A farce with elements of screwball comedy, it was directed by Mitchell Leisen, and produced by Charles Brackett from a screenplay by Charles Brackett, Richard Breen, and Walter Reisch, based on the play Maggie by Caesar Dunn. The ensemble cast stars Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, and Thelma Ritter.[2][3]

The Mating Season
Belgian film poster
Directed byMitchell Leisen
Produced byCharles Brackett
Written byCharles Brackett
Richard Breen
Walter Reisch
Caesar Dunn (play)
StarringGene Tierney
John Lund
Miriam Hopkins
Thelma Ritter
Music byJoseph J. Lilley
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byFrank Bracht
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 1951 (1951)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,625,000 (US rentals)[1]


Ellen McNulty (Thelma Ritter) gives up her hamburger stand in New Jersey when the bank calls in her loan, and goes to visit her son Val (John Lund) in Ohio. Val has recently married a socialite, Maggie (Gene Tierney). To help Maggie put on a dinner party, Val has an employment service send a cook; Ellen arrives first, and Maggie mistakes her for the cook. Ellen, to avoid embarrassing Maggie, does not correct her. After the party, Val follows her home, and persuades her to move in with them.

The next morning, Ellen arrives with her things, and continues the deception, explaining to Val that a mother-in-law in the house would only cause friction. Val reluctantly goes along with the charade.

Maggie's mother (Miriam Hopkins) comes to stay with them. She is a snob, and disapproves of both Val and Ellen.

Maggie and Val later "lend" Ellen to the Kalinger family, owners of the firm where Val works, for a party of their own, whose guests of honor, Mr. and Mrs. Williamson, own a Maryland firm with which the Kalinger firm is about to make a major contract. While tending to Mr. Kalinger (Larry Keating) in his illness, Ellen finds that his son, Kalinger Junior (James Lorimer) – who had previously courted Maggie – is taking credit for Val's research that led to the contract, and she tells Kalinger Senior so.

Kalinger Senior then invites Val and Maggie to the party, forcing Junior to reveal Val's role, which he does graciously. At the party, Maggie is insulted by Mrs. Williamson (Cora Witherspoon) and storms out. Val, realizing that this woman carries a lot of influence, forces Maggie to call the party to apologize. She does so unwillingly, leading to another fight.

The next morning, Val and Maggie make up, agreeing that they were both in the wrong. Later that day, Ellen's friends come to the door and ask to speak to "Mrs. McNulty" - thus revealing to Maggie that Ellen is Val's mother. Maggie is furious with Val for hiding his mother's identity from her. She and her mother leave for a hotel. Maggie later confronts Val at his office. Val tries to explain himself, but Maggie won't listen. She tells him that he has become a snob and that she is moving to Mexico (where divorce was then easier).

Mr. Kalinger decides to get Val and Maggie together. He convinces Maggie to come to the hotel bar with him for a good-bye drink, knowing that Val will be there for a party. When Maggie sees Val, she again scolds him for trying to hide his mother, and leaves the bar. Val leaves the party, and rushes to fetch his mother and bring her back to the party. Maggie, who has come back to the bar, is a witness as Val introduces Ellen to Mrs. Williamson, who was about to hire Val, but wants nothing to do with him when she finds that his mother is neither of her class nor cowed by her. Kalinger Junior also finds Ellen appalling, but Kalinger Senior is delighted, and decides to marry her.




Comic book adaption


  1. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
  2. Variety film review; January 10, 1951, page 13.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; January 13, 1951, page 6.
  4. "1st Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  5. "Movie Love #9". Grand Comics Database.
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