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This featherweight romantic comedy pairs Loretta Young with her frequent leading man David Niven as a couple celebrating their 10th anniversary who realize underneath all the sugar talk they've grown indifferent to each other. Not helping things are their parents, who have always not quite approved of their child's choice of spouse. A spat leads to divorce proceedings and Loretta's old flame Eddie Albert suddenly emerges while longtime "friend" Virginia Field sees her chance now with Niven. There's nothing really funny going on despite Charlie Ruggles and ZaSu Pitts in the supporting cast in quite trivial roles. Loretta looks gorgeous of course, especially in some classic Edith Head fashions and the film casts her as a career woman but the movie while quite watchable is just not very interesting. Child actress Nina Griffith is pleasant as Young and Niven's daughter caught in the middle of their war; according to IMDb, this is her only film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No, there is no Barbra Streisand ballad to express the flaws of adults
in relationships, just a neurotic wife (Loretta Young) who goes a
little nutty on her 10th wedding anniversary to dashing hubby David
Niven, suddenly demanding a divorce. The problem, as the title
suggests, is that their marriage is perfect-in fact, too perfect. In
short, boring. They admit that they haven't wanted each other for a
year, even though they seem to get along splendidly in spite of a rocky
start to their relationship. The problems they do have include mothers
who can't stand each other yet separately interfere over the objections
of their own husbands, a few toxic friends who want to see their
perfect little world smashed, and Young's ex-boyfriend (Eddie Albert)
who happens to turn up just as the gossip about the divorce gets around
the social club they hang out in.
Yes, this is very similar to Claire Booth Luce's classic play and the 1939 MGM movie "The Women", although the husband doesn't stray at all here. The leading characters are somewhat flawed but basically nice people, successful in their career, and devoted to their precocious daughter (Nina Griffith). All of the supporting women, however, are as one of Norma Shearer's pals in "The Women" commented, "females". Not one Lucille Watson in the bunch. The film seems to give the impression that women are either neurotic innocents or calculating cats. Young comes off as basically nice, but touched with moments of moodiness, insecurity, and somewhat scatterbrained in spite of the fact that she is a top fashion magazine editor. The closest to a non-female "lady" is housekeeper Zasu Pitts who is basically a gloomy gus that gets more pleasure from horror movies than musicals, sort of a flittery Mrs. Danvers.
Paramount, the art-decco king of Hollywood's sophisticated comedies of the 1930's, hits gold here. The art direction is simply divine, and Loretta Young is decked out here in the finest clothes horse fashions since Kay Francis. Poor Nina Griffith suffers in that department. One outfit she wears makes her look like a pint-sized nun. She does well in a role that Natalie Wood might have brought too many tears to, and is equally as plucky as Virginia Wiedler was in the same type of role (with a similar plot) in "The Women".
As for Eddie Albert, he is obviously stuck in the Ralph Bellamy role, and it is so apparent where the plot is going. As for Ms. Young, she seems a tad too mature for her Rita Hayworth like long flowing hair, even though she's still quite stunning. There are laughs, but they come through more of a snicker than much needed gut busters. You just pray that these adults will wake up, see the silliness of their ways (especially Young's character) and get rid of the toxic friends and maddening mothers-in-laws who have been trying to topple their "perfect" world.
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