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Not the best these talents have done, but still entertaining
An Ernst Lubitsch comedy, co-scripted by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, which has always been generally dismissed by critics and fans alike. Perhaps with the film's reputation as a lesser effort those who sit down to view it will be pleasantly surprised to find it an agreeable affair, anyway.
Gary Cooper plays a seven times married American businessman millionaire who finds that with wife no. 8 (Claudette Colbert) he may have met his match. She has made him agree to a pre nuptial agreement of paying her $100,000 should there be a divorce and then makes him spend much of the marriage unhappy and wishing he hadn't signed that agreement.
While the film is never as funny or clever as the best of Lubitsch, it still has its moments. The film is remembered primarily for the scene in which Colbert and Cooper "meet cute" as they agree to split a pair of pajamas in a department store.
But there are other moments, too, such as the scene in which Cooper, inspired by having just read Taming of the Shrew, bursts out of his room, walks with great macho determination and accompanying soundtrack drum roll down a hallway, enters a room where Colbert stands and slaps her across the face. She responds by slapping him back and Cooper, perplexed by this unexpected turn of events, leaves the room, walks back through that same hallway to his room again and picks up the book to try to figure out what he did wrong.
Like all Lubitsch productions this film has a graceful air of sophistication, with a physical elegance in its sets and photography. Colbert is an old hand at frothy material like this while Cooper, cast against type, plays his role with obvious enthusiasm. He's a far cry from the Cooper we're used to seeing on screen in the scene in which he plays a piano while singing "Looky, looky, looky, Here comes Cookie" to Claudette. The supporting cast is first rate, all of them deft performers: a young David Niven, and old pro character actors Edward Everett Horton and Herman Bing.
English mangling, beer barrel shaped Herman Bing is the unlikeliest of detectives, hired by Cooper to follow his wife to see if she has any lovers. "Don't forget," he tells the millionaire, "we are a first class firm. You will find that out when you get our bill." Recommended as middling production code era Paramount fare.
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