5.9/10
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Misbehaving Husbands (1940)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 20 December 1940 (USA)
The owner of a department store is threatened with divorce by his wife, who has gotten reports that he's been seen in the arms of a beautiful blonde on the night of their 20th wedding anniversary. He has to find a way to convince her that the "beautiful blonde" in question was actually a store mannequin that he was taking in for repairs.

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(original story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Henry Butler
...
Effie Butler
...
Bob Grant
...
Grace Norman
Gayne Whitman ...
Gilbert Wayne
Florence Wright ...
Nan Blake
...
Jane Forbes
Frank Jaquet ...
Wilbur Drake
Charlotte Treadway ...
Clara Drake
...
Floor Walker (as Byron Barr)
...
Gooch Mulligan
Hennie Brown ...
Opal
Billy Mitchell ...
...
Sgt. Murphy
...
Gossiping Friend
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Storyline

The owner of a department store is threatened with divorce by his wife, who has gotten reports that he's been seen in the arms of a beautiful blonde on the night of their 20th wedding anniversary. He has to find a way to convince her that the "beautiful blonde" in question was actually a store mannequin that he was taking in for repairs.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

20 December 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dummy Husbands  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

Shot in 15 days. See more »

Connections

References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ain't misbehaving
11 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I can imagine this film was a big event for Harry Langdon. After his three self-directed features failed to be popular with audiences in the late 1920s, his star power dropped and he went back to starring in short subjects and playing featured role through the 1930s. He briefly got to be Stan Laurel's replacement alongside Oliver Hardy in the Hal Roach Studios feature "Zenobia" in 1939, but that gig ended when Hardy was freed from his Roach contract and reunited with Laurel. 1940's "Misbehaving Husbands," even though it was produced by PRC, one of the poorest studios around, was Langdon's first chance in a long time to carry a feature on his own.

Fortunately, Harry is great, and I give him even more credit than usual for developing new dimensions to his performance. He takes the innocent, bewildered, childlike character that made him famous, and "grow him up," so to speak, enough to believably be the hardworking but oblivious middle-aged department store owner that "Misbehaving Husbands" calls for. His funniest qualities, the delayed reactions, the uncertain twitchiness, and all are still present in spades, and happily the camera here gives him a chance to play to his strengths, such as in the scene where he wildly indicates everything in the house that is "his," then jumps to the couch chastised when a statue begins to fall.

The director is the infamous William "One Shot" Beaudine, known for his quick production of mystery and horror films for cheap studios. He was never known his comedies, and sure enough this film is not played for broad or wacky comedy. Beaudine clearly knows how to be efficient, but to let Langdon play slower when he needs to. The tone of the whole film is slightly odd, though (see the early scene in the department store window). There's a comic lead and a solid comic premise with complications to develop, but it often has the feel of a serious story about a divorce following a tragic misunderstanding. Ineffably, there is a sense sometimes that Harry Langdon is comic relief in his own starring film.

The story is solid material despite some wildly implausible plot points that I found forgivable. The parts that Luana Walters and Ralph Byrd play seem rather shoehorned in as a halfhearted concession to the need for romantic leads, though it's interesting to see Byrd doing some detective work outside his famous Dick Tracy role.

Without Harry Langdon's performance this would be a completely standard 1940s B-feature domestic comedy, but that performance makes it well worth the watch.


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