This is being promoted as a romp with a wife who invents a lover to get revenge on her husband for spending more time with his secretary. Apparently it also involves travel to Europe, but I’m not clear how big a part of the movie that is. I suspect the story starts with them relocating for business reasons, and then the new secretary at the new office gets too much of the husband’s attention.
This is based on a play, so I’m expecting some really good dialogue, very long scenes, and a handful of location scenes in Europe because movies feel obligated to Open Up a play.
I’ve been holding onto this for a long time because it looked fun, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually a theatrical movie, and also it’s a remake of My Favorite Wife, so I really wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure it would be a good fit. But I have established that it was a feature, so I’m going to cover it now.
This is built on a thorny relationship question, which I think might shift slightly from the 40s to the 60s to today. Nobody’s wrong, but how do they make it right?
After watching the movie:
Five years after his wife Ellen went missing in a plane crash, Nick Arden has her declared legally dead so he can marry his new love, Bianca. The very same day, the Navy rescues Ellen from the tropical island she’d been marooned on, and she returns home to learn her husband is leaving for his honeymoon. Ellen’s mother in law Grace conspires with her to get her to interrupt Nick and Bianca’s honeymoon so Ellen can have her family back. However, while Nick is overjoyed to be reunited with Ellen, he dreads breaking the news to sensitive and moody Bianca. Now Ellen is furious that Nick won’t get rid of Bianca, and Bianca is furious with Nick for sneaking around instead of giving her a wedding night, and then, just so Nick won’t be left out, he learns Ellen wasn’t alone on that island.
It’s not entirely correct to say that nobody’s wrong. Nobody is at fault for the creation of the situation, but everyone takes a share of extenuating it. This is one of those stories that runs on people not talking to each other, but it’s also people who won’t be talked to. As reluctant to brooch the subject as he is, Nick does try to do so, just as gently as one would expect him to deliver a disappointment to his bride on the special day. Bianca just won’t let him reach his point. Ellen’s jealousy and impatience is also understandable, but she keeps interrupting the process. Watching people who not only won’t talk to each other but can’t talk to each other is often like drowning, but it’s very fun downing done well, and this is a delightful mix of a whole lot of different kinds of comedy on the way to nobody admitting anything to anybody.
I’m sure I’ve seen the hotel manager in a lot of 60s movies and possibly TV. He seems to play disapproving waiters and authorities a lot in the 60s. Don Knotts also has a guest role in a couple of scenes, mostly in the same vein as his usual type, but without any pressure to be a hero. The judge at the beginning and end is unfamiliar, but he steals the show.
It’s a thorny problem, but the real world solution wouldn’t have so clean a break with one woman. This falls into the trap of a lot of the movies where building up the case against the wrong partner leaves a character that doesn’t seem to have any business being with the one forced to choose. It could also have left it at neither, but then the happy ending would need even more help.
The ride of this movie makes up for a lot of logical problems. The writing and performing is funny, so what else does it need to be? As long as the journey is enjoyable, the map doesn’t need to make too much sense.
A 50s screwball romantic comedy is pretty much always welcome, and often a relief. This week, I think I really need to see Clark Gable and Doris Day verbally spar their way into each other’s arms.
The setup of a teacher and a student and a false identity vaguely reminds me of the original The Nutty Professor, but an adult educator and a reporter taking her class for petty reasons is a lot better than a college professor and a coed.