My Favourite Wife (1940)

Marilyn Monroe took the role in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ to extreme heights before bidding a farewell to everyone from this world. Doris Day, similarly in ‘Move over Darling’ was charming and did justice to her role.

While one movie had to be abandoned, the other was seen as a good remake of this 1940 movie.

My Favourite Wife is the one in the discussion that gave the source to the movies mentioned above while being inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden.”

This movie had a pre-cursor, plot-wise in the silent era, most notably D W Griffith’s epic ‘Enoch Arden’ in two parts made in 1911. Ellen Arden (Irene Dunne) is supposedly killed in a shipwreck seven years ago. Her husband, Nick Arden (Cary Grant), after having hoped all these years to see his wife come back, decides to have her issued dead in the court. This would ensure he could move on and marry Bianca (Gail Patrick) legally. Nick has two kids from Ellen.

Nick and Bianca get married and are on their way to their honeymoon.

Twist in the tale as Ellen appears after having been rescued by a ship from a distant island. She comes home and gets to know about Nick’s wedding and feels sad about him moving on with life. She decides to surprise him and goes to the hotel where the newlywed couples have booked their honeymoon suite.

The expression on the face of Nick upon seeing Ellen is a treat for audiences. He feels guilty about the fact that he cannot embrace his long-lost wife with the same compassion. At the same time, he cannot think about his newlywed status with Bianca.

Hesitation to come out with Bianca’s truth, he escapes from confrontation, and the scenes have been shot well, portraying Nick’s denial to face the truth. Nick is jealous that Ellen had spent the last seven years with a guy on that island. He was curious to know who that guy was. Ellen tries to camouflage this fact by introducing a dumb guy so that Nick doesn’t have an issue to get back at her. Incidentally, Nick, driven by jealousy, decides to find who that guy was. It turns out to be quite a handsome guy.

Unable to bear this, he expresses his irritation to Ellen. In the meantime, Bianca is confused as to why she isn’t able to live with Nick and keeps wondering what’s going on in Nick’s mind. He tends to avoid her whenever she tries to get close to him or when she is in a mood to make love.

Out of two wives, Nick has to make a choice. He chooses his favourite wife, and that being Ellen. One can sympathise with Bianca as I feel she has been wronged here. But, since this being a movie on the lines of screwball comedy, one can imagine having characters like Bianca.

Irene Dunne and Cary Grant match their previous success on a husband-wife theme, The Awful Truth. In particular, Irene Dunne looks fresh, and one cannot believe she was older than Cary Grant in real life. The scenes involving the hotel manager and the judge are mind blowing-ly funny. Randolph Scott plays the role of Steve Burkett, who accompanied Ellen on the deserted island.

Directed by Garson Kanin, this movie was initially slated to be directed by Leo McCarey. A freak accident prevented him from executing and hired Garson Kanin to do the honours.

The movie was a success and managed to receive three Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Music – Original Score, and Best Writing – Original Story (looks like by altering story and some of its elements from another play are considered original).

The Howards of Virginia (1940)

Set in colonial Virginia in the 1750s, this movie is a story about Matt Howard and his wife Jane Howard when America was fighting for their independence.

Although there were cultural differences between Matt and Jane, there was no love lost between them when they kissed for the first time and fell in love.

Despite Jane’s brother opposing the marriage, they go through the ritual and raise a clutch of children. Their elder child’s lameness reminds Matt of his brother-in-law, and he manages to ignore the child for the very same fact.

The movie shows Matt, his friendship with Thomas Jefferson, and his unique portrayal of a farmer. In 1776, Matt enrolled to be part of George Washington’s army to fight for independence. In search of their father, Peyton and James, Matt and Jane’s sons decide to join the military. They meet their father.

Listening without being seen to his two sons arguing over the rebellion, he discovers Peyton to be the closest to his principles than his beloved James. He tries to communicate his love, but war comes in between.

The movie culminates in America getting Independence from British and George Washington becoming the First President of the United States.

The movie was commercially unsuccessful, and Cary Grant later confessed to him being miscast as Matt Howard.

Although the movie conveys the history of Virginia and the United States, there are few chronological errors. The costumes, however, have a period appeal to the 1750s.

The Howards of Virginia was directed by Frank Lloyd and earned two Oscar nominations for Best Music Original Score and Best Sound Recording.

His Girl Friday (1940)

Call it front-page news or inspired by a drama called “The Front Page,” His Girl Friday will be my pick for all-time favorite Cary Grant movies.

This was the second Cary Grant movie for me, and to be frank, I became a big fan of his after watching this movie.

Cary Grant (Walter Burns) plays the role of a Chicago-based newspaper editor. The story starts with him losing his main editor, who coincidentally happened to be his ex-wife, Hildy Johnson, played by Rosalind Russell.

She would visit him to say that she would be getting married in two days. She even introduces her to be husband, played by Ralph Bellamy (Bruce Baldwin), to Walter.

More than losing his wife, he wouldn’t want to lose his primary weapon in Hildy, who had quit the job for marrying Bruce.

Watch the movie to see the events, which keep rolling while Walter makes every effort to get Hildy back on the job. He ensures Bruce is placed outside the equation so that she doesn’t have to marry him.

Quite a selfish guy, to be honest, but it’s the dialogues and how he convinces Hildy to cover one final story about a convict.

Coming to the origins, the original story had a guy playing Hildy’s role. But director Howard Hawks was convinced the dialogues would suit better if a female plays the part.

The script was altered, and the rest is a masterpiece concerning situational comedy.

I have read a lot about this movie; this movie was one of the first, if not the first, films to have characters talk over other characters’ lines for a more realistic sound.

Before this, movie characters completed their lines before the next lines were started. I have just put a scene, which showcases this…