Starring: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott
Director: Garson Kanin
Running Time: 88 mins
My Favourite Wife is an American film about a man who, upon remarrying seven years after he discovered his first wife was killed in a shipwreck, is dumbfounded when she returns to him having survived the crash and lived on a desert island with one other man for seven years, creating big problems for him and his new wife.
This is a fun little concept for a film, and it’s a very simple one to get some crazy screwball laughs out of, and whilst the main actors in Cary Grant and Irene Dunne try hard to make this as funny as possible, the way that the story unfolds doesn’t reach the heights of many of the other classic screwballs of the era.
Let’s start, however, with the biggest positive from this film, which was Cary Grant and Irene Dunne’s performances. Grant is the master at this sort of awkward man role, and he shines once again here in a great display of hilarity and trying to get out of such a situation.
Also, Irene Dunne, although not as outstanding, is still very strong in a performance that takes centre stage in messing up absolutely everything, and the way that she manages to bring across the idea that her character is wanting to come back into Grant’s life for good reasons really makes it a lot easier to support her and be pleased at how the film goes along.
However, away from that, this film just isn’t really that funny for its genre, which requires not only slapstick and strong character relationships, which this does have, but also a consistently awkward and difficult atmosphere to drive the story along in the most entertaining way possible.
The main problem with this all is the role of the supporting characters in the whole affair, most particularly Cary Grant’s second wife. Although she initially makes a big deal out of all of the madness, she’s effectively dropped halfway through the film, losing the opportunity for any real conflict and proper screwball comedy at all.
And that shows in the final act of the story, where everything feels far too easy to get through, it’s all a bit rushed, and it’s nowhere near as entertaining as it initially was, leaving for a pretty boring watch for the final half an hour or so and a pretty unsatisfying ending that would have otherwise been perfectly fine if the story hadn’t seemed so easy.
Overall, this gets a 6.6, because despite the strong characterisation and performances for the main two, this film just isn’t funny enough to keep you really interested or entertained.