7.4/10
8,019
77 user 27 critic

My Favorite Wife (1940)

Approved | | Comedy , Romance | 17 May 1940 (USA)
Missing for seven years and presumed dead, a woman returns home on the day of her husband's second marriage.

Director:

Garson Kanin

Writers:

Bella Spewack (original story), Sam Spewack (original story) (as Samuel Spewack) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Irene Dunne ... Ellen Wagstaff Arden
Cary Grant ... Nick Arden
Randolph Scott ... Stephen Burkett
Gail Patrick ... Bianca Bates
Ann Shoemaker ... Ma - Nick's Mother
Scotty Beckett ... Tim - the Ardens' Son
Mary Lou Harrington Mary Lou Harrington ... Chinch - the Ardens' Daughter
Donald MacBride ... Hotel Clerk
Hugh O'Connell ... Johnson - Insurance Adjuster
Granville Bates ... Judge Bryson
Pedro de Cordoba ... Dr. Kohlmar
Edit

Storyline

Ellen Arden arrives 7 years after being given up for dead in a shipwreck, to find her husband Nick just remarried to Bianca. The overjoyed Nick awkwardly tries to break the news gently to Bianca. But before he can do that, an unpleasant surprise--news that Ellen has spent the 7 years on a deserted island with fellow-survivor Burkett. Nick's jealousy tries to find out the truth. Hilarious confusion reigns before Nick chooses his favorite wife. Written by Riaz Shaikh <cisrfsx@gsusgi2.gsu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The funniest, fastest honeymoon ever screened!

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 May 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meine liebste Frau See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on Tuesday, December 7th, 1950 with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

The judge mentioned that Ellen was shipwrecked off the coast of Indochina. Nick mentioned that he went to Bangkok to interview survivors which makes sense if the shipwreck happened near Indochina. However, Ellen mentioned that she was located at Latitude 12, Longitude 128 which is 200 miles east of the Philippines and more than 1000 miles away from the closest part of the Indochina peninsula (which would be Vietnam). The nearest large city to that location would be Manila and not Bangkok. See more »

Quotes

Nick Arden: [discussing how to tell Tim and Chinch that Ellen is their mother] Would it help if I wrote them a letter?
Ellen Wagstaff Arden aka Eve: Oh, that would be nice, yes. 'Enclosed, please find your mother.'
See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than the normal The End title as this movie concludes, there is a Good Night [drawn in cursive handwriting] page just before Closing Credits film roles and exit music begins. See more »

Connections

Remade as Move Over, Darling (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

The Skaters Waltz (Les patineurs)
(1882) (uncredited)
Music by Emil Waldteufel
See more »

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User Reviews

"You're Not Allowed To Have Two Wives, You Know"
13 March 1999 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

From the opening moments, when the big wooden doors part and usher us into a beautifully spare art deco courtroom with slanting shafts of sunlight enhancing the clean architectural lines, we know that this is going to be a deftly-made, elegant film. What follows does not disappoint us.

Attorney Nick Arden (Cary Grant) lost his wife Ellen in a shipwreck in the Pacific seven years ago. He has now decided to have her declared officially dead, so that he will be free to marry Bianca (Gail Patrick). The irascible judge eventually accedes to both the declaration and the marriage, and the newly-weds set off for a honeymoon in Yosemite. Meanwhile, who should turn up at the Arden residence, very much alive, but the long-lost Ellen? When she hears of the recent marriage, she heads straight for the honeymooners' hotel ...

"My Favourite Wife" is a fine example of those early Cary Grant farces, the ones in which he gawps with surprise, double-takes and mutters to himself as only he can. Irene smoke-gets-in-your-eyes Dunn is great as Ellen, unveiling a hitherto unsuspected gift for witty comedy. Scotty Beckett and Mary Lou Harrington come close to stealing the show as the Ardens' cute little kids. Randolph Scott is interestingly cast as Steve Burkett, the muscle-bound Adonis who spent seven years on the desert island with Ellen.

Some of the film's highlights are worth mentioning here, like the superimposition of Burkett performing gymnastic feats alongside Nick Arden's troubled face as he muses at his desk, conveying with economy the husband's jealous preoccupation. It is unfair to give away a film's jokes, but one gag which lose nothing in the telling is Ellen's outfit at the Yosemite hotel. She has been out of circulation for seven years, and she looks comically untrendy in her 1932 polkadots and lapels, and obtrusive hat. Watch for the derisive glances from the other hotel guests.

Such a light, charming piece of entertainment is hard to fault, but the film does have some shortcomings. Its central problem, which is not resolved, is what to do with Bianca. She married Nick in good faith and has done nothing wrong, yet she is neglected by Nick. Because there is no satisfactory way of dealing with her, she is simply dropped. Ellen's return from a watery grave after all those years would be a news story of international importance, but instead she arrives home having hitched a ride in a truck. Her entry into the country seems to have gone unannounced, even to her husband. The scene in which she persuades a shoe store clerk to pose as 'Adam' in front of Nick has enormous comic potential, but is abandoned after a few seconds. Nick's sleeping-in-the-attic scene is far too long for the humour it contains.

However, the film is a pleasant and very amusing romp, and such weaknesses as it contains do not detract from its appeal.


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