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MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940)

icon-dots 'TIL DEATH DO US PART

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Enoch Arden,” about a man returning home after being lost at sea, has inspired numerous serious films, most notably Tomorrow Is Forever (1946), with Orson Welles, Claudette Colbert and a very young Natalie Wood. When Leo McCarey and Garson Kanin got their hands on it, however, it became an inspired screwball comedy. Cary Grant stars as a man who has his lost-at-sea wife (Irene Dunne) declared dead so he can remarry, just before she reappears, eager to get her family back. Complicating matters even more is the fact that she wasn’t alone when she was shipwrecked. Grant soon discovers her island “Adam” was a strapping hunk (Randolph Scott, Grant’s off-screen friend and sometimes housemate). McCarey wrote the script with Sam and Bella Spewack, intending to direct Grant and Dunne after their successful film The Awful Truth (1937). When McCarey was hospitalized following a serious auto accident, he chose Garson Kanin to take over. Kanin did a fine job, but during previews the audience seemed to lose interest three quarters of the way through. McCarey, who had recovered, brought back Granville Bates, who had been very funny as the judge declaring Dunne dead at the start, and had him preside over Grant’s bigamy case. The result was a comic gem. (d. Garson Kanin, 88m, 35mm)

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