7.4/10
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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.

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Writers:

(original story), (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:
... Ellen Wagstaff Arden
... Nick Arden
... Stephen Burkett
... Bianca Bates
... Ma - Nick's Mother
... Tim - the Ardens' Son
Mary Lou Harrington ... Chinch - the Ardens' Daughter
... Hotel Clerk
... Johnson - Insurance Adjuster
... Judge Bryson
... Dr. Kohlmar
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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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 May 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meine liebste Frau  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on Sunday, March 23rd, 1941 with Irene Dunne reprising her film role. See more »

Goofs

When Nick first tries to sleep in the bed in the attic of the cabin, he pulls a toy cannon from under the bed and throws it across the room. When he does this, the doll on the night stand falls over. You can see the trip wire swinging behind Nick. In fact, the pin at the end of the wire lands on Nick's head. See more »

Quotes

Ellen Wagstaff Arden aka Eve: Oh, by the way, how was my funeral?
Ma: Lovely. Doctor Blake preached a wonderful service.
Ellen Wagstaff Arden aka Eve: Oh, I wish I had been there.
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

Featured in The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

The Skaters Waltz (Les patineurs)
(1882) (uncredited)
Music by Emil Waldteufel
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User Reviews

"You're Not Allowed To Have Two Wives, You Know"
13 March 1999 | by See 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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