85 user 28 critic

My Favorite Wife (1940)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 17 May 1940 (USA)
2:40 | Trailer
Missing for seven years and presumed dead, a woman returns home on the day of her husband's second marriage.


Garson Kanin


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





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


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


The funniest, fastest honeymoon ever screened!


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Leo McCarey was supposed to direct the film, but shortly before the filming began he was injured in an automobile accident, and had to hand over the direction to Garson Kanin. Actress Gail Patrick has stated that the severity of McCarey's injuries had an effect on the film's cast, and they found it very difficult to enter into the spirit of the comedy with the serious hospital bulletins they were hearing. See more »


When Ellen has her first hot shower 'in seven years', she's wearing a bathing cap, rather than wash her hair in the shower. See more »


[first lines]
Judge Walter Bryson: [as the omnipotent viewer/camera enters the Los Angeles County Court Of General Sessions / Judge Walter Bryson Presiding and as the bickering over a previous case dies down] Alright, alright. The case is postponed till next Thursday. Now that'll be the 26th.
Postponed Case Lawyer: Thank you Your Honor.
Judge Walter Bryson: Be here.
Court Clerk Beside Judge Bryson: Are the parties ready in the matter of Ellen Wagstaff Arden?
Nick Arden: Yes here.
[smiles endearingly at Bianca and approaches the bench]
Nick Arden: Good morning Your Honor.
Judge Walter Bryson: Good morning.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than the normal "The End" title as the movie concludes, "Good Night" is drawn in cursive handwriting. See more »


Featured in American Masters: Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004) See more »


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

User Reviews

No more carrots
11 August 2014 | by AAdaSCSee all my reviews

The film starts in a courtroom with lawyer Cary Grant (Nick) getting his 1st wife Irene Dunne (Ellen) pronounced legally dead by Judge Granville Bates. Dunne has been missing for 7 years and it's time for Grant to move on. Specifically, with Gail Patrick (Bianca). The Judge, after painfully dithering about – some people find this funny, I didn't – then agrees to marry Grant and Patrick, and they go off to their honeymoon. But what's this……first wife Irene Dunne returns home! She's not dead. She heads for the honeymoon hotel. What is everyone to do….?

The cast are mainly good in this film. Cary Grant spars well with everybody, and especially with hotel clerk Donald MacBride. There are many funny scenes that include Grant's reaction in a hotel lift when he first sees Irene Dunne. He also has an amusing scene with Pedro de Cordoba (Dr Kohlmar) as he rifles through a wardrobe full of ladies clothes, explaining he is doing it for a friend, and "he's waiting outside". There is another amusing set-up with the story of Irene Dunne's male partner on the desert island – hunky Randolph Scott (Burkett). Dunne tries to pass off meek Chester Clute as the man she has innocently spent 7 years with to a knowing Cary Grant.

However, whilst, the film is entertaining and is easy to watch, it peters out at the end once the action moves to the mountain home. It gets sentimental and silly, and the film could have been resolved in a far more satisfactory manner. We are left with a few questions regarding the plot, such as what has Gail Patrick done to deserve what has just happened? Is Randolph Scott a complete carrot-eating moron? And Irene Dunne is actually pretty awful considering that she is meant to love Cary Grant. The children are a bit irritating and Irene Dunne has an annoying episode where she puts on a Southern accent, but, despite all of that, this is a fun film.

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Release Date:

17 May 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

My Favorite Wife See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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