Billie Burke, in real life the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld, is now remembered only for putting a wastebasket on her head to play Glinda the fairy. As so few people have seen her in other roles, it's not widely realised that Burke's Glinda routine was no act: she went through her entire career with that annoying twittery voice and those fluttery gestures. Fortunately, 'The Misleading Widow' is a silent film, so we're spared the ordeal of her twittering tonsils.
Although this film was made in America with a Yank cast, the action is set in an English village near a British army base ... which is just as well, because this story couldn't happen in America. It deals with the compulsory billeting of soldiers in civilian homes, which is lawful in Britain but specifically proscribed in America by the Third Amendment.
Betty Taradine (Burke) is one of the women of the village: ostensibly a widow, the truth is that her husband abandoned her years ago under scandalous circumstances. The village women have been gossiping about her. Now, during the Great War, Colonel Preedy arrives and informs Mrs Taradine that she is required by law to billet one of Preedy's officers -- his aide-de-camp -- in her home. When the aide-de-camp arrives, he turns out to be Mrs Taradine's long-lost husband, who has changed his name and is now an army captain calling himself Peter Rymill. But Mrs Taradine is not best pleased to have her husband back, as she has declared him dead so she can collect on his life insurance. She and her (late?) husband maintain the charade so that she doesn't get nicked for fraud.
It turns out that the reason why he walked out in the first place was because his wife was irresponsible with money. Despite collecting the insurance, she's still irresponsible, and she hasn't paid her bills in months. Mrs Taradine's electricity and telephone service are about to get shut off, and the grocery deliveries have stopped. In order to be able to live comfortably while he's billeted at his wife's house, Captain Rymill pays her bills himself, without letting on that he's her husband. Now the villagers have really got something to gossip about: why is this army officer paying Mrs Taradine's bills for her? Hmmm...
I found this movie moderately amusing, but the painful memory of Billie Burke's twittery voice is so deeply burnt into my brain that I kept cringing every time she spoke any dialogue in this silent movie, even though I couldn't actually hear her. I'll rate this movie just 2 out of 10.
0 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?