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US multi-millionaire Michael Barndon marries his eight wife, Nicole, the daughter of a broken French Marquis. But she doesn't want to be only a number in the row of his ex-wives and starts her own strategy to "tame" him. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
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They meet on the Riviera - buying pajamas. This opening scene is a labored buildup for the hilarious payoff - one of those lauded Lubitsch 'touches'. My favorite scene from this film comes next. Colbert has left the dept store and is walking down the street, with Cooper walking fast to catch up. Colbert smiles knowingly to herself. Then Cooper strides past with narry a howdy-do and is gone. Now this IS a surprise and howlingly funny. But it doesn't make sense. Cooper is obviously smitten, but he ignores her. Further, how are they to get together when he doesn't know her name or address?
The it-makes-no-sense-at-all plot has them marry and divorce. Now with alimony Colbert has money of her own and doesn't need to marry him for his money. She says this proves she loves him. Say again? After making him miserable and crazy, in the last 3 minutes the story wraps up happily and unconvincingly. Her goal was to cure her divorce inclined mate and make him a forever husband. But has this goal been accomplished?
Along the way a bit of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew is tossed into the mix. We see Cooper reading 'Shrew' and then acting on what he has misread. In an hilarious scene he marches from his rooms to her rooms and does something that Petruchio would never have done to Kate, and Colbert swiftly sets him straight. It's been suggested that the script was a retelling of 'Shrew' with Colbert in the Petruchio role, but I, familiar with Shakespeare, don't see it. Oh, yes, Cooper spanks Colbert, just as Petruchio did Kate. But that's where the likeness ends.
It IS fun watching Colbert make mincemeat out of Bluebeard. Colbert is an expert comedienne. Cooper less so. He's handsome and charming, but stolid where playful is required. Cooper had worked with Lubitsch 2 years earlier in 'Desire' with Marlene Dietrich, and he was excellent in this comedy. Apparently the problem in this film lies in the mismatch between Cooper's image and the Bluebeard character. Was Cary Grant not available? Or Melvyn Douglas?
The film looks classy, except for the too obvious rear-projection scenes of the honeymoon couple walking the streets of European cities, which are jarring in this A-budget film. Colbert's costumes of ruffles, furs and spiffy hats are gorgeous. Colbert is gorgeous. I have long thought her chirpiness annoying, but in 'She Met Him in Paris', '3-Cornered Moon' and this film, all on the Colbert Collection set, she's perfection.
In spite of the goofy plot and a not-quite-up-to-the-task Cooper, you'll enjoy watching these 2 great Stars deliver a lot of laughs.
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