Having Wonderful Time

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Having Wonderful Time
Having Wonderful Time.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlfred Santell
James Anderson (assistant)
Produced byMarc Connelly
Written byMorrie Ryskind
Ernest Pagano
Screenplay byArthur Kober
Based onHaving Wonderful Time
1937 play
by Arthur Kober
StarringGinger Rogers
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Lucille Ball
Eve Arden
Richard "Red" Skelton
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byWilliam Hamilton
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
July 1, 1938
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,008,000[1]

Having Wonderful Time is a 1938 romantic comedy film released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Plot summary[edit]

Bored New York office girl Teddy goes to a vacation camp in the Catskill Mountains called Camp Kare Free, for rest and to get away from the noisy, busy, city life and avoid advances from Emil. She meets and at first does not like waiter Chick. She also meets friend Fay, her roommate Miriam, and Buzzy. Miriam has eyes for Buzzy, who seems to have eyes for everyone. Within her two-week stay, Teddy and Chick fall in love and spend every day together.

One night Teddy becomes angry with Chick and leaves him to go to a party where she meets up with Buzzy. A storm rolls in and Buzzy invites her to his cabin, which he rents by himself. Initially refusing and wanting to be with friends, Teddy sees Chick at the party and asks Buzzy to go to his cabin. At the cabin she tells Buzzy she isn't interested but loves to play backgammon. Chick rushes in to save Teddy but becomes embarrassed when he sees the innocent board game. He returns to the party and waits there to talk with Teddy when she returns home. Teddy accidentally falls asleep at Buzzy's cabin and stays overnight.

While trying to sneak out the next morning Teddy is spotted leaving by Miriam. Emil shows up to drive Teddy back to the city and the two sit down to eat, with Chick as their waiter. All three of them overhear Miriam yelling at Buzzy for having Teddy stay overnight. Chick goes on a punching spree and chases after Teddy out of the restaurant. The two reconcile and plan their married life.


Red Skelton film debut[edit]

This was Red Skelton’s first film: He is credited as Richard (Red) Skelton. It includes the iconic “Doughnut Dunkers” routine that he developed with his wife, Edna (and eventually copyrighted in every possible combination of beverage and dunkable baked goods).[2] That routine got him a job at New York City's Loew's State Theatre in 1937 and launched him into the big time on stage. [3]

Skelton’s part in this film was originally much larger. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. wrote in his memoir, "...the big bosses at the studio were unable to appreciate Skelton's broad, slapstick style and cut his part down to the barest minimum needed to hold the slender plot together." [4]

Broadway play[edit]

The film was based on the play of the same name, as was the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here. (The play's title has quotation marks around it to reflect the custom of vacationers sending letters and picture postcards to keep friends and family informed of their activities.and the cliché postcard message: “Having Wonderful Time. Wish You Were Here!”) Produced by Marc Connelly, it had its original Broadway run at the Lyceum Theatre from 20 February 1937 to 8 January 1938.[5] The cast included John Garfield, Katherine Locke, Sheldon Leonard, Philip Van Zandt and Cornel Wilde.

Character name changes[edit]

In the play, the resort is in the Catskills, the characters are Jewish, and much of the humor relies on an understanding of that context TCM reports that Arthur Kobler, author of the play and the screenplay told the New York Times: "Well, the Will Hays organization—and that, as you know, is the censor with a capital C—first went on record as saying that the play could not be done as a picture.. the Jewish people might create misunderstanding, racial antagonism and all that. Thereupon, RKO very carefully explained that this angle would be entirely eliminated—that the picture would simply be about young people of the lower-middle class...So when I was called in to make the adaptation, the first thing I had to do was turn my Jewish characters into Gentiles. “ [6]

Among the names changed for the movie version:

  • Teddy Stern became Teddy Shaw
  • Chick Kessler became Chick Kirkland
  • Fay Fromkin became Fay Coleman
  • Mac Finkle became Mac Pangwell
  • Itchy Flexner became Itchy Faulkner

Also, the characters Henrietta Brill and Miriam Robbins had their last names dropped in the movie credits.


The film recorded a loss of $267,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57.
  2. ^ "Lakeland Ledger - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  3. ^ "Red Skelton - Wikipedia". en.m.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  4. ^ "Having Wonderful Time (1938) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-11-19.
  5. ^ Sixteen Famous American Plays, New York: Modern Library, 1941. 679-80. Print.
  6. ^ "Having Wonderful Time (1938) - Articles - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2019-11-19.

External links[edit]