All aboard for a spinning marriage-go-round! Cary Grant, the screen's ideal combination of romantic hunk and comedy buffoon, plays flabbergasted Nick. Radiant Irene Dunne, Grant's The Awful Truth and Penny Serenade co-star... more », plays the returned wife who cagily sets out to reclaim her former life. And Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick add to the marital mixup as Nick goes from having one wife to two to none to one. The right one. What romantic comedy has joined together let no one put asunder. Of all the giddy screwball comedies ever made, this remains an enduring favorite.« less
"This one has been a fave of mine since I was a kid and I had been anxiously waiting it to be released on DVD, and in black & white (no "coloring", thanks).
Although it is not the masterpiece that "The Awful Truth" is (starring both Grant & Dunne too), it's anyway an engaging, tongue-in-cheek, romantic comedy, thanks to Cary Grant's and Irene Dunne's wonderful chemistry (They also were good at drama, check the great "Penny Serenade").
Dunne plays the long lost (7 years) wife of Cary Grant, who after years of searching her in the realms of Asiatic continent & islands, has decided to re-marry...to give his two a children a brand-new mother.
I have to state that the quality of the transfer is much better than the Columbia DVD (of extremely "uneven-quality") edition of "The Awful Truth", and you know that Columbia-Sony Editions are more expensive than these Warner editions; and above all, lately the Columbia-Sony Classic releases don't bring bonuses, beside from trailers. Warner releases do come with some delightful bonuses; in this case a Robert Benchkey short & The 1950 Radio Production of the film.
Fine support from Gail Patrick, who specialized in playing "unpleasant" women or plain "bitchy" types, and Randolph Scott, who displays his full athletic prowess & charm in this movie (Grant & Scott were pals in real life).
A Leo McCarey production directed by gifted Garson Kanin.
Remade as "Move Over Darling" (1963) with Doris Day and James Garner, and previously it was intended to be a Marilyn Monroe vehicle: "Something's Gotta Give" (1962) (a unfinished film... really, a barely "begun" film), with her in Dunne's role, Dean Martin in Grant's role and Cyd Charisse in Gail Patrick's...what could have been of that?"
"I bet you say that to all your wives."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 12/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some may be surprised at my reviewing a film like this, as the movies I usually review tend to fall into the science fiction and horror genres, but I do enjoy all kinds of films, especially romantic comedies from Hollywood's golden age. There's something about films from 30's and 40's that I don't often see in movies today, and I would define it as class. Characters in these old films often exuded a suave, sophisticated demeanor you rarely see in contemporary releases...maybe it had something to do with the now defunct studio system in those days, one that always tried to promote it's contract actors in the best possible light, cultivating and protecting them like the valuable commodities they were, elevating their status to a level usually reserved for royalty. Nowadays, every wart, blemish, and pimple, metaphorically speaking, is exposed (remember not so long ago when Hugh Grant got caught in that tryst with that rather seedy street walker? Fifty years ago the general public would have never heard about it), revealing the stars of today are a lot like us, except for the fame and fortune...but I digress...My Favorite Wife (1940), directed by Garson Kanin (They Knew What They Wanted), reunites the stars of the earlier film, The Awful Truth (1937), Cary Grant (Arsenic and Old Lace, Notorious), and Irene Dunne (Show Boat). Also appearing is Randolph Scott (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), Gail Patrick (My Man Godfrey), and character actors Donald MacBride (The Thin Man Goes Home) and Granville Bates (Of Mice and Men).
The film opens with Nick Arden (Grant) appearing in court, attempting to have his wife, Ellen (Dunne) who's been missing for the past seven years, declared legally dead, so that he may remarry. Seems Ellen signed on an expedition as a photographer, and the ship she was traveling on was lost at sea. Well, the very day Nick convinces the court to declare her dead and marries his new wife (Patrick), a very alive Ellen reappears determined to regain her old life back (she was stranded on a island, but was able to flag down an errant ship) and Nick now must face the fact that he's an unintentional bigamist. It's obvious Nick's still in love with Ellen, but just can't seem to muster the nerve to tell his new bride that his old wife has come back. And then there's also a bit of an obstacle in that of the very handsome Stephen Burkett (Scott), also a member of the ill-fated expedition, and the man Ellen shared her island with the past seven years, and, as you may have already guessed, has the hots for Ellen...oh dear, what a mess...
Let's face it, you really can't go wrong with a Cary Grant comedy, and My Favorite Wife is no exception. The main brunt of the comedy comes from Grant's character's unease at breaking the news to his bride (she seems the high maintenance type, the kind men would normally acquiesce to rather than deal with the inevitable confrontation) about the return of his once thought deceased wife, with whom he's still deeply in love with...Grant plays the role of the seemingly normal man, who knows what he wants, but just not how to go about getting it, thrust into a downward spiral of confusion and comedic perplexity trying to adjust to an outlandishly complex situation that only gets worse as he attempts to pull himself out. The very attractive Dunne also plays her role very well as the genial, confident woman determined to pick up where she left off, believing in her heart the complexities of the situation will resolve themselves in her favor, but feeling the growing uncertainty that her husband will find the resolve to do what she knows he feels in his heart to be right. The scene where she finally brings herself to reveal her identity to her young children (she was gone for seven years, so they were too young to remember her) is very sweet, but deftly avoids the schmaltz one would see in a lesser film. These two, talented actors really work well together, giving the impression of a perfect pairing whether on or off the screen, and showing a level of familiarity that obviously comes from prior, on screen couplings. Other performances worth mentioning are that of Donald MacBride as the somewhat accommodating but soon morally flustered hotel clerk (Ellen shows up just prior to Nick and his new bride checking in for their honeymoon), and curmudgeonly Granville Bates as the flummoxed judge trying to sort the whole mess out. I guess the only problem I have with the film, an issued shared by at least a few other people, is it just feels a bit light. The actors flesh their characters out as much as the screenplay allows, and do it well, but the underlying material seemed a bit skimpy. A perfect example is Randolph Scott's character...he seemed more of just a hollow plot device rather than an integral part of the story, and his impact is felt so little that when not on screen, he's pretty much forgotten. I can't help but wonder how audiences received the material within the film, specifically the whole `bigamy' angle, if there was some level of concern from a moral standpoint. I thought the story handled it in an unlikely manner, but certainly possible one.
The black and white, full screen, original aspect ratio picture (1.37:1) looks really sharp, despite a few, very minor flaws. The audio is also very clear, and comes through well. Provided are some interesting special features including a Screen Director's Playhouse radio production featuring Grant and Dunne, a theatrical trailer for the film, and an entertaining comic short titled Home Movies featuring popular (at the time, at least) journalist/humorist/comedian Robert Benchley. All in all, I wouldn't necessarily consider this to be one of Grant's best films, but it's still pretty darn good and definitely worth seeing.
A fine film featuring absolutely first rate comic performanc
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 03/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MY FAVORITE WIFE is not among the very best comedies of pre-war Hollywood, but it is nonetheless quite excellent, driven by a strong script, superb lead performers, and a number of great character performances. Cary Grant is the finest comic actor film has produced and this film demonstrates that as well as any. Though he was equally as good in classics such as BRINGING UP BABY and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, those films were so marvelously directed, so superbly well written, and filled with such an overabundance of great actors that one might not notice just how outstanding Grant was (that is not the case with HIS GIRL FRIDAY, where even among an embarrassment of riches, Grant stands out and dominates the film). Here Grant is surrounded by fewer talented actors, is working with a slightly less superb (though still quite good) script, and is directed by the writer instead of the director originally scheduled for the project. Originally the plan was to reunite Grant, Irene Dunne, and Leo McCarey, the big threesome of the classic 1937 screwball THE AWFUL TRUTH. Unfortunately, McCarey had a car wreck just before shooting was begun and was unable to be on the set. Canin did a good if not spectacular job. Unlike his fellow writers Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges, both of whom became fulltime directors of their own scripts around this time, Canin primarily remained a writer for the rest of his career.
Still, the film was more successful than it should have been, mainly because of Cary Grant, though Irene Dunne was certainly a strong presence as his costar. But in rewatching the film, it becomes obvious that almost all of the great comic moments are Grant's. What is remarkable is that he essentially plays a coward. The plot is simple. A man goes before a judge to get his wife declared dead after she has been missing for several years, apparently drowned in the Indian Ocean, so that he will be free to remarry. The judge grants the request and then marries them, but of course the next scene shows the wife who has been declared dead arriving at her home, just after being rescued (why she wouldn't have called first isn't explained). Learning that her husband has remarried and is about to go on his honeymoon, she follows after. Much of the humor of the film revolves around cowardice, Grant's inability to tell his new wife that his old wife has miraculously returned from the dead, and Dunne's reticence to tell him that she had been stranded on the island with beefcake Randolph Scott. That really is about all the plot there is. They manage to get a lot of mileage out of Grant's inability to come out and say what he wants. He is the epitome of the incommunicative male. The film is also enlivened by a number of superb supporting actors. Virtually none of the great comedies off the studio era in Hollywood failed to feature a group of first rate character actors. Here the two that most stand out are Granville Bates as the Judge in a magnificently performed role and Donald MacBride as the exasperated, confused, and highly suspicious hotel clerk.
The film is interesting for the pairing of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, about whom rumors have circulated for decades. I've never seen any good evidence that either was gay or bisexual or involved with one another, but the rumors have persisted nonetheless. The primary "evidence" seems to have been that while they were roommates during the 1930s they were unusually good housekeepers, keeping their apartment meticulous. Why neatness should be evidence of homosexuality I am not sure, but we know for a fact that both Grant and Scott dated women extensively through the thirties, but there is no evidence whatsoever of any physical relationship between the two. Sadly, the rumors of their having had a relationship apparently took a toll on their friendship. This film was made well after the rumors had begun but after they had ceased rooming together and well before their friendship largely ended.
All in all, this is one of the more enjoyable comic films of the age. It isn't a classic in the mold of HIS GIRL FRIDAY or BRINGING UP BABY or THE LADY EVE, but it is nonetheless an exceptionally easy to like and enjoy film featuring great performers at their peak.
Note: If one scans the reviews below one will note several mentions of colorized versions. I believe that these refer to the old VHS versions. Amazon often meshes reviews of DVDs with older reviews of VHS versions of films. As far as I know--though I could certainly be mistaken--I do not think this has ever been released on DVD in colorized form. At any rate, the current retail version is certainly in pristine black and white. So don't be afraid that you are about to purchase a colorized film."
"Here is another fun DVD for fans of classic romantic comedies. I found it to be consistently amusing, although it is not in the same class as "Bringing Up Baby" or "The Philadelphia Story".After seven years of grieving over the apparent loss of his wife in a shipwreck, Nick ( Cary Grant ) marries another woman, Bianca, ( Gail Patrick ), only to discover on his honeymoon that wife # 1--Ellen ( Irene Dunne ) is back, very much alive and kicking. Naturally, Ellen wants to pick up where she left off with her husband, as well as a young son and daughter. Nick is "dazed and confused"--as only Cary Grant can be--and makes the situation much worse through his reluctance to break the news to Bianca. At the same time, Nick discovers that his "first wife" spent the better part of the seven years on an island, alone with another man--a hunky, athletic guy named Burkett ( Randolph Scott ). How will this hilarious mess turn out ? Get the disc and see.We have another superb comedic perfomance from Cary Grant. Irene Dunne is fine as Ellen, "returned from the dead" and determined, by any means, to win her husband back. Gail Patrick's performance is a nice contrast to her sudden "competition"--icy, haughty and seriously "not amused" !
Randolph Scott--usually quite stoic in his many westerns--seems to be having a ball here. In support, special kudos to scene-stealing Donald MacBride as the hotel clerk, who has to book separate suites for each of Cary's "women"--his incredulous face is priceless.The DVD is black and white, and shows a fair bit of wear in places--not enough to spoil your fun though. Keep in mind, the film was made in 1940. The disc also includes a trailer for the film, a radio program with Ms. Dunne, and a funny short film starring humourist Robert Benchley on the perils of showing "Home Movies" to your "lucky" friends ! On the whole, a very nice package.Bottom line--a witty script and a solid cast will give you a very pleasant hour and a half's entertainment. Good fun for fans of old-fashioned comedy."
"Don't you think it's about time somebody started kissing so
Dymon Enlow | 12/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not my favorite Grant/Dunne pairing (THE AWFUL TRUTH), but still a great film mainly because of Dunne's enchanting performance.
Seven years after loosing his wife in a sinking ship a still sad Cary Grant has her legally declared dead and marries a woman who is not right for him, a few hours after the ceremony Dunne returns and tracks down Grant on his honeymoon. Then to make matters even worse he discovers that she was stuck on a tropical island for the entire seven years with hunky Randolph Scott!
The story is slower paced than say THE AWFUL TRUTH or BRINGING UP BABY and the humor at times feels a little forced, but Grant is still hilarious and Dunne completely wipes away any flaws the film has with her smile. She absolutely radiates."