*Sorry this post has been so long in coming. I've gotten frightfully behind! I had wanted to re-watch this film before posting but just couldn't seem to ever make it to the library.
If You Could Only Cook (1935) stars Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall. It was directed by William A. Seiter, not a name familiar to most (if any). So how did Columbia get people to see this movie? Robert Osborne explains below:
In the film, Herbert Marshall plays Jim Buchanan, the head of a large automobile firm. He is unhappy because the Board of Directors will not look at his sleek new car designs. While walking through the park he happens upon Jean Arthur, who plays Joan Hawthorne. She is sitting on a park bench checking the job listings in the paper (it's the Depression you know). She spots a listing for cook and butler positions. The problem is, the job is open to a husband and wife team only. Joan, presuming Jim is also out of work, talks him into applying for the job with her. He decides to play along.
The job is located at the Rossini manor, the home of a former bootlegger, played by Leo Carillo. Rossini has Joan prepare a sauce. She gets the job when, instead of putting garlic directly in the sauce, simply waves it across the top. It's a great scene.
Jim, Joan, Rossini, and his bodyguard
The trouble begins when Joan and Jim are shown to their room. Singular. They solve the problem by Jim sleeping on the adjoining balcony/porch. Also, as Jim knows nothing about being a butler, he sneaks home to get lessons from his own butler. Rossini's bodyguard sees Jim sleeping on the porch and gets suspicious.
Rossini and Joan try to solve the problem
Rossini, suspected that the couple isn't really a couple, begins flirting with Joan. Jim of course doesn't like this all. He goes down to his office and gets his drawings to show Joan, hoping to impress her. Unfortunately, when Jim isn't looking, Joan takes his drawings to his own company and tries to sell them. They think that she stole them and have her arrested.
Rossini then steps in. He realizes that Joan loves Jim and kidnaps Jim, who left to marry his society fiancé when he realized he was getting too deep into things. You'll have to watch the movie to find out how it ends ;)
And now, Robert Osborne's closing thoughts:
TCM - If You Could Only Cook
Another great post on this film
All images found via Pinterest