12 February 2008 | bkoganbing
Lynnfield's Terrible Secret
I'm not sure how Theodora Goes Wild would be viewed today because of changing demographics. Some of those small New England towns like Lynnfield are not bastions of conservatism any longer. Today the home of a well known author like Irene Dunne would be a tourist attraction.
But back in the Thirties, this still was the New England of Calvin Coolidge and descendants of the town founder just don't go writing romance novels. But that's what Irene Dunne is doing only its under a pseudonym, lest the good people of Lynnfield make life uncomfortable for herself and her two maiden aunts.
Irene's cover will be blown though when she meets her illustrator at her publisher. Melvyn Douglas is quite smitten with her and he follows her back to Lynnfield from New York and persuades her that she ought to live life a little and not just vicariously through her novels.
Dunne takes his advice with a vengeance after he's thoroughly embarrassed her. But when Theodora Lynn does go wild she takes no prisoners. Coming out in public under her pseudonym of Caroline Adams, Dunne gets fame and notoriety confused. Today she would be big time tabloid fodder and pays Douglas back in a way he can only blame on himself.
It's charming pair of leads with a delightful supporting cast that play their roles to perfection. A particular favorite of mine is publisher Thurston Hall who gets to do a drunk scene with Dunne, something the very proper Mr. Hall didn't often do.
Irene Dunne got one of her five Oscar nominations for playing Theodora Lynn aka Caroline Adams, but lost in the big sweepstakes to Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld.
I'm not sure how you could do Theodora Goes Wild today though. I can see the town billboard on the Massachusetts Turnpike: Welcome to Lynnfield, Home of Caroline Adams.