GenreComedy, Romance ScreenplayLionel Houser CountryUnited States
Release dateDecember 1941 WriterLionel Houser (original screenplay) CastRosalind Russell (Judge Cornelia C. Porter), Walter Pidgeon (Jeff Sherman), Edward Arnold (Judson M. 'J.M.' / 'Judsy' Blair), Lee Bowman (Walter Caldwell), Jean Rogers (Dotty) Similar moviesSt. Vincent, Chef, Thank You for Smoking, Burn After Reading, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Big Wedding
TaglineEVERY WOMAN HAS HER WEAK MOMENT!-but it takes the right man to find it!
Design for Scandal is a 1941 romantic comedy film directed by Norman Taurog. Rosalind Russell stars as a judge targeted by a newspaper tycoon unhappy with her decision in his divorce case.
When wealthy newspaper publisher Judson M. Blair (Edward Arnold) divorces his wife Adele (Mary Beth Hughes), Judge Cornelia C. Porter (Rosalind Russell) awards Adele alimony of $4000 a month for five years or until she remarries. After learning from his lawyer, Northcott (Thurston Hall), that Porter refuses to hear an appeal, the furious Blair tries using his influence with her boss, Judge Graham (Guy Kibbee), to have her transferred, but to no avail.
Reporter Jeff Sherman (Walter Pidgeon), recently fired by Blair, offers a solution in exchange for a promotion, a raise, a bonus and an unlimited expense account. After trying to bargain, Blair gives in to all his demands. Sherman gets his manicurist girlfriend Dotty (Jean Rogers) to pretend to agree to marry him in a couple of months. He then sets out to romance the judge, intending to threaten her with an alienation of affection scandal to force her to reduce Blair's alimony burden.
When Porter takes a two-month vacation, Sherman follows along. Having researched her interests, Sherman pretends to be a sculptor. To obtain an artist's studio in the fully booked resort town where Porter is staying, Sherman persuades real sculptor Alexander Raoul (Leon Belasco) that Blair has offered him a commission to decorate his building. Sherman then starts working on Porter. She makes it very plain that she considers him a nuisance, but after much effort, he is able to win her love. To his dismay, however, he finds that he has fallen for her as well.
When Porter runs into Raoul at Sherman's "studio", she learns about the scheme before Sherman can confess, and has both Blair and Sherman arrested. At their trial, Sherman acts as his own lawyer and calls Porter to the witness stand, where he asks her to marry him. Under questioning (and under oath), she is forced to admit that she did love him at one point. Porter runs out in tears. When Sherman chases after her, he is knocked down. Believing he has been hurt, Porter rushes back to him, and they are reconciled. Meanwhile, Blair becomes irate when he discovers that after he got his ex-wife to agree to a lump sum settlement, she promptly married another wealthy magnate.
Rosalind Russell as Judge Cornelia C. Porter
Walter Pidgeon as Jeff Sherman
Edward Arnold as Judson M. Blair
Lee Bowman as Walter Caldwell, Porter's co-worker and admirer
Jean Rogers as Dotty
Mary Beth Hughes as Adele Blair
Guy Kibbee as Judge Graham
Barbara Jo Allen as Jane, Porter's sister
Leon Belasco as Alexander Raoul
Bobby Larson as Freddie, Porter's nephew
Charles Coleman as Wilton
Thurston Hall as Northcott
According to MGM records the film earned $659,000 in the US and Canada and $398,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $139,000.