Time: 88 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Screwball Comedy
Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Score and Screenplay.
A frothy, wholly unbelievable romantic comedy that puts the wide-ranging comedic talents of Grant and Dunne to hilarious use. The second of their third onscreen pairings, this film picks up where THE AWFUL TRUTH leaves off. They have a wonderful rapport here as a married couple who wants to be together, but let petty jealousy and a second wife get in the way of their true feelings. Grant plays Nick, a lawyer, caught between the old and the new when his supposedly dead first wife Ellen, played by Dunne, reappears in his life. Missing for over seven years after a shipwreck in the South Pacific, she returns to find her devoted husband wed to a much younger woman (Patrick) and her children unknown to her. The staff, and the family dog, are thrilled at her return and sadly break the news of Nick's recent nuptials.
Determined to discover if Nick still has feelings for her, she surprises him at the hotel where his honeymoon has begun. He can't believe his eyes and doesn't know whether to be happy or horrified. It's taken many years for him to move on and now the past has come back to haunt his future. His feelings are torn as he tries to hide Ellen's presence from Bianca, while she attempts to begin their honeymoon. The situation is further complicated when Nick discovers that his wife did not spend her island excursion alone. Though Ellen swears nothing physical happened between her and Burkett (Scott), Nick finds that hard to believe once he gets a good look at him. Burkett is a very handsome man, who quite clearly wants to continue his relationship with Ellen in the real world. Ellen uses Burkett to flame Nick's jealousy in an attempt to get him to uncover his true feelings for her.
As in all screwball comedies wackiness ensues as each character tries to outwit the other in an effort to get what they want. There are some pretty silly schemes here, that only payoff with laughter because of the talent of the cast. The story could have had more depth if the part of Bianca was filled by an actress capable of competing with Dunne. All Patrick's given to do is complain, which she accomplishes mightily. Her character is so annoying it's a wonder why Grant would have married her in the first place, and certainly no surprise when he eventually succumbs to the charms and intelligence of his first wife. Granted it's a comedy, but the emotional turmoil would be more engaging if his choice was actually a tough one. While not the best Grant vehicle, he's at full comic strength here and despite the fairly thin plot he makes the experience an enjoyable if not exactly memorable one.