Thursday, June 12, 2014
MY FAVORITE WIFE
(May 1940, U.S.)
Having considered my massive film collection, it occurs to me that with the exception of his Hitchcock films, all the Cary Grant films I own are those where he's displaying his rather insane comedic talents. Watch films like BRINGING UP BABY (1938) or ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944) and perhaps you'll know where other comedic actor like, say John Ritter of THREE'S COMPANY was inspired for much of the zany, ridiculous situations characters like Jack Tripper, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow got themselves into week after week. One particular common thread between much of Grant's classic black and white comedies is that his character is very often involved in a situation that only he and perhaps one other person fully understand. To all others surrounding him, he's often considered completely off his rocker...and he usually knows this is what others are thinking of him.
So, all of that in mind, consider a man, and a lawyer to boot Nick Arden (Grant) who one fine day has his long-lost wife declared legally dead on the same fine day he chooses to marry again and also the same fine day said presumed dead wife Ellen (played by Irene Dunne) actually turns up alive! Turns out that Ellen was merely shipwrecked on a deserted island for seven years and has just been rescued only to turn up at her home with her children again. When she returns, she learns that Nick has just left on his honeymoon with his now second wife. What to do? Why, try to completely fuck things up and see where the pieces fall, of course! The second marriage has already occurred, but Ellen still loves Nick and Nick still loves Ellen. But again, he thought she was dead the day he married his second wife, which it turns out, he likely didn't really love anyway. Mind you, it's not like Nick is trying hide one wife from another. Ellen knows about wife #2 and Nick is trying in vain to tell wife #2 about Ellen. In a screwball comedy like this, however, such a task is never easy. And of course, it's all real funny and it's all real cliché because in the end the two people who are supposed to be together the most end up together and the third wheel gets jilted. By then, though, the audience doesn't care too much about the jilted third wheel anyway. We want true love (whatever the fuck that is in a comedy like this!) to prevail. Mind you, throughout all of this madness, there's also the slightly absent-minded judge who's merely trying to keep up with all that's happening and understand what it all means in the end. He usually doesn't, but that, too, is real funny...real Cary Grant funny!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Nick Arden (discussing how to tell their children that Ellen is their mother): "Would it help if I wrote them a letter?"
Ellen Arden: "Oh, that would be nice, yes...'Enclosed, please find your mother."