|TOO MANY HUSBANDS (1940)|
|"You can't tell a woman to meet her dead husband at 8 o'clock. You just can't!"|
|Time: 84 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.
SYNOPSIS: It's been a year since Bill Cardew was declared dead by drowning, and his widow Vicky is now married to his old friend and business partner, Henry Lowndes. When Bill unexpectedly returns from the island where he was marooned, Vicky is forced to choose which one she wants to stay married to.
BOTTOM LINE: Based on a play by Somerset Maugham, this frothy flick has the same premise as MY FAVORITE WIFE, though with the sex of the doubly married spouse reversed. In this version, Jean Arthur is the remarried spouse who gets the surprise of her life when her supposedly dead first husband, played by MacMurray, crash lands back in her life wanting to pick up where they left off. What he quickly comes to realize is that not only has she moved on, but married his best friend and business partner (Douglas). After they all recover from the shock, Vicky finds herself relishing the unabashed attention of the two men who have already won her heart and are trying to gain the position of sole man of the house. She knows she has to choose, and quickly, but she loves them both and doesn't want to hurt either of them. That and she likes being fought over. Their antics to impress her get way out of hand, leaving nothing decided and tormenting them all. It's inevitable that their dirty little secret gets them in trouble with the courts and the matter is settled for them, though we're left wondering if the judge actually got it right.
While not a true "screwball" comedy this film has its' moments of high hijinks which keeps the pace moving and the spirits high. Then there's the rest of it. Since much of the action takes place within 24 hours, the story never develops any depth, focusing merely on Vicky's inability to make a decision, which gets old pretty quickly. It's hard to blame her enjoyment of a little extra attention, but the flim wallows in her pleasure, making her seem flighty and not exactly worth the trouble. Arthur is good enough to keep you on Vicky's side, but just barely. Especially since her character remarried only 6 months after her beloved husband went missing. If I 'd been the returning husband I don't think I would have fought for a woman who clearly wasn't that devestated by my disappearance. In any case, the men are both charming in their own ways, making the decision at least seem difficult, which gives her unending vacillation some substance. It's obvious from the beginning who's going to win in the end, but the road to the conclusion has enough ups to keep the journey amusing. Fans of Arthur may be disappointed with her performance here. She's not the best comedienne and clearly tries hard to keep up with the boys, who outshine her every moment they're onscreen. A decent effort that never fully finds its' stride.