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Olivia de Havilland,
Charles Hathaway wakes up in West Wales with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. With the help of a Cardiff specialist he traces his life back to his gorgeous wife and their large London house, so all seems well with the world. But more detective work starts to uncover an alarming chain of further stunning wives and a way of going on that the new Charles finds pretty unacceptable. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
First shown in the United States on NBC television, 6th November 1955, but with twenty minutes cut so that the film could be shown with commercials in a 90-minute time slot. This was the first time that a feature-length film premiered in the United States before reaching the theaters. It was also the first time a feature film was broadcast in color, but, since few viewers had color receivers at this time, most people saw it in black and white. See more »
This is certainly a film to savor for marvelous performances and the style of an almost fine film maker as he slowly peels back the layers of the onion skin of a story with the audience struggling right along with the lead (the always charming Rex Harrison) to find out who and what he is after he comes to in a seaside Welsh hotel with no memory of either.
Unfortunately, the original ad campaign seriously undercut the chief interest in the film as a light hearted mystery, trying to lure audiences with a presumably "racy" tag line about the "Intimate revelations" of Rex's character who "went one better than Henry VIII" (all told in "Blushing Technicolor")! Tack that onto a plot which, once the past nature of Rex's character was revealed, had no where to go even with a courtroom full of women still anxious to throw themselves at him, and you can readily understand THE CONSTANT HUSBAND going straight to TV in the U.S. - the first relatively major film to do so - not getting a theatrical release for two years.
You certainly cannot blame the sterling cast for the film's ultimate letdown - any film with BOTH Margaret Leighton and Kay Kendall (the soon-to-be Mrs. Rex and reputedly the love of his many partnered life off-screen) AND droll performances from Cecil Parker, Robert Coote, Michael Hordern, Valerie French and a generous bevy of other beauties is going to hold the viewer's delighted interest right up to the end. If the film HAD an end or any idea how to end, I suspect it would be a perennial which we would play constantly on both sides of the Atlantic like so many of the sublime Ealing comedies, rather than only now (in 2010) enjoying a British DVD release with no likelihood of being offered in the Colonies.
Instead, THE CONSTANT HUSBAND (a/k/a MARRIAGE ALA MODE - no relation to the brilliantly satirical Hogarth painting) just peters out - leaving a hint in the resemblance of the leading ladies what a better director (than Sidney Gilliat) might have done with the property had he chosen to have ALL the women in Rex's life played by the same actress (either Kendall or Leighton would have been marvelous) the way Alec Guinness famously played all the doomed members of the D'Ascoyne family six years earlier in the dazzling KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. Just that little touch of style might have made all the difference. It might have even made the lame final fade out make some sense...the 84 minutes which preceded it were such fun.
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