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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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Colbert and Cooper Shine in Lubitsch's most Under-Appreciated Comedy
There is something about seeing a movie in a good, old-fashioned movie house that adds enormous appeal to every picture. I, fortunately enough, was able to see at Film Forum in New York City a pair of Ernst Lubitsch comedies during their three week tribute to the legendary director. The double feature I attended was a screening of Lubitsch's 1938 comedy Bluebeard's Eighth Wife and the pre-Code classic Design for Living, neither of which I had seen before. Everything I read of Design for Living praised the film, but I could not find a good review anywhere for Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. Leonard Maltin disliked it.VideoHound, too, gave the comedy a low rating.its IMDB score was not complimentary.and Pauline Kael (not a great surprise) blasted the film in her scathing review. So, when I went into the city that day I was expecting to enjoy Bluebeard's Eighth Wife only slightly and love Design for Living completely. Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (which was showing first) began, as the eccentrics who populate the cinema took their seats and the thirties music subsided. `Adolph Zukor presents Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper in Ernst Lubitsch's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife,' the title card read. Then the picture opened with a hilarious scene: Cooper wants to buy a pair of pajama tops, but he doesn't want any part of the bottoms! He gets into a squabble with the clerk, who seeks the help of his higher bosses, and their seems to be no end to the argument. Enter Claudette Colbert, one of thirties cinema's most beautiful, charming, and talented personalities. `I'll take the bottom,' she kindly intercedes. And there you have perhaps screwball comedies finest `meet cute' ever. The film kept my interest wonderfully.I found myself laughing almost constantly. When Colbert discovers, just before a family portrait is taken, that her groom-to-be has been married seven times, the entire theatre broke into histerics. When she bargains for money immediately after she gets over her shock, the laughs (which still haven't ceased) intensify. And Edward Everett Horton milked some hilarious reactions out of the script as well. When Cooper takes inspiration from Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew in disciplining his wife by slapping her in the face, I could not control my laughter when she slapped him back. And the drunk scene with the scallions is one of Claudette Colbert's funniest comic scenes. The greatest comic moment of the film came when Colbert highers a boxer to `teach her husband a lesson.' In pure screwball fashion, he knocks out the wrong man, instead putting her friend David Niven into a cold sleep. He awakes as Cooper is arriving. In order to cover up the situation, Colbert herself, in a moment of strong sexiness, puts her fist up to Niven, asks: `Where did that man hit you? Here? Right here? Right here?' and then BAM! knocks him out again! The film was wonderful, from beginning to end it was a perfect delight. I loved Design for Living, too, though I dare say I think for sheer laughs and entertainment Bluebeard's Eighth Wife was the better and more enjoyable film. There is some charm of seeing a vintage film on the large screen. And in the presence of others laughing, one feels more comfortable doing so himself. That is, perhaps, why I felt the way I did about Bluebeard's Eighth Wife.
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