GenreComedy, Romance ScreenplayEdward Melcher CountryUnited States
Release dateJuly 12 1940 (US) Based onHighway to Romance by Eleanor Brown (novel) WriterEleanor Brown (novel), Jerome Cady (screenplay), Bert Granet (screenplay) CastWendy Barrie (Diane North), Gene Raymond (Dr. Lawrence 'Larry' Smith), Hedda Hopper (Mrs. North), Berton Churchill (Col. Conway), Billy Gilbert (Orestes), G.P. Huntley (Walter Corbett) Similar moviesRelated Frank Woodruff movies
Cross-Country Romance is a 1940 American romantic comedy film starring Gene Raymond and Wendy Barrie. With the huge success of It Happened One Night, the 1934 American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra and starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, every studio in Hollywood attempted to cash in with a similar storyline. In addition to this film, there was also Love on the Run (1936) from MGM, The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) by Warner Bros.; even Columbia Pictures, which had made It Happened One Night, produced the musical remake Eve Knew Her Apples (1945).
High-profile heiress Diane North (Wendy Barrie) stows away in the trailer of a bacteriologist Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Smith (Gene Raymond) to escape from her own wedding. Larry has to drive cross country to San Francisco to catch a ship to China, where he will work with an eminent expert on a cure for a serious disease. When he discovers his stowaway, Diane tells him she is poverty-stricken Maggie "Jonesy" Jones, making her way to a slightly less poor uncle. Larry tries to get rid of his passenger at every opportunity, but she falls in love and uses every wile to stay with him.
Meanwhile, her wealthy, ditsy mother (Hedda Hopper) offers a reward for her safe return, fearing she has been kidnapped, but her fiance Walter Corbett remains remarkably blase about the whole thing.
At a lunch counter, two grifters recognize Diane, and sneak aboard the trailer, but not before conning Orestes (Billy Gilbert), the diner's cook, into giving them two $10 bills for $5. Orestes finally figures out he has been conned and telephones for the police. All four are taken to the Omaha police station. Police Captain G. G. Burke finally sorts things out and lets Larry and Diane go.
They get married. Then, at one stop, Diane secretly calls her mother and asks her to do something to stop Larry from going to China (which he insists on doing alone). Larry hears on the radio that the famous doctor has found a cure, so he no longer has a reason to go.
He also discovers Diane's true identity, and promptly dumps her. On his way back through Omaha, he is arrested. Captain Burke is sure he kidnapped and possibly murdered Diane, and is frustrated when the alleged victim shows up looking for her husband.
Diane confesses to Larry that the news story was faked by her mother. He leaves once more for San Francisco, by air as time is running short. On board the ship, Larry is delighted to be invited to dine with the captain, until he discovers that the guest of honor is one of the owners of the shipping line: Diane. He storms out, but she persuades him to take her back.
This was one of Hedda Hopper's final roles before leaving the screen to work full time at her influential gossip column, which she'd started in 1938. This is also one of the many bit parts for Alan Ladd before his 1942 breakthrough.