Next up for our June celebration of actress Claudette Colbert (as the Star Of The Month), we’ve got the 1938 comedy Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, also starring Gary Cooper!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Rock A Bye Pinky (1966)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 8 seconds)
When the Pink Panther can’t sleep due to the Little Man’s snoring, he tries to do something about it! This one is a lot of fun, as the Little Man (who doesn’t know the Pink Panther is there) keeps blaming everything on his dog. Obviously, one can’t help but feel sorry for the dog (who keeps trying to save his master, only to be blamed for it), but the gags are funny enough that you want to keep watching! I know I do, as I enjoy coming back to this one again and again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Oh, the crazy things that can bring people together! While shopping at a store on the French Riviera, American millionaire Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper) tries to buy only the top half of a pair of pajamas, but the clerks and store owners won’t let him. It is only when Nicole De Loiselle (Claudette Colbert) steps in and offers to buy the pants that everything is cleared up. Michael is also struggling with insomnia, and tries to change rooms at the hotel he is staying at. However, the other room he attempts to switch to is still occupied by the Marquis De Loiselle (Edward Everett Horton) (even though he hasn’t paid his bill for some time and is being threatened with eviction), and Michael discovers the Marquis wearing the pajama pants that Nicole had bought. Realizing that Nicole is the daughter of the Marquis, Michael decides to buy an antique bathtub that the financially-strapped Marquis tries to sell him. Michael finds Nicole at the beach with her friend (and one of Michael’s bank employees) Albert De Regnier (David Niven). While Michael sends Albert off to type up a letter, he tries to propose to Nicole, but she turns him down. Michael keeps trying, and eventually she does agree to marry him. However, at their engagement party, Nicole finds out that he has been married not once, not twice, but SEVEN times previously. She resists the idea of marrying him, but, upon hearing that his previous wives all got a settlement of $50,000 a year for life, she proposes a settlement of $100,000 a year if they divorce, to which Michael agrees. However, things don’t go the way he expects, as, even after marriage, she tries to maintain a distance between them (as in, they don’t consummate the marriage). In spite of that, he’s bound and determined to try and keep this marriage going. Her efforts finally win out, when she attempts to make it look like she’s having an affair, and he walks in on Albert, who had been knocked out (by a prize fighter she had hired to pose as her lover). That’s finally enough to convince him to divorce her, but in the process he suffers a nervous breakdown. Will they come back together, or will this divorce last, too?
This movie was based on a French play by Albert Savoir and its English translation by Charlton Andrews. The story had been done onscreen before, as a silent film in 1923 starring Gloria Swanson. For the new film, director Ernst Lubitsch came in, and, for writers, Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were teamed up for the first time. The opening scene about the pajamas came from Billy Wilder, who, as the director and his co-writer later found out, was also prone to sleeping only in pajama tops, and had wanted to use the idea in a comedy for a while.
This was yet another wonderful screwball performance from actress Claudette Colbert. In general, a lot of the fun from this movie comes about as a result of how much smarter her character Nicole is than Gary Cooper’s Michael. Once she learns about his previous wives, she quickly figures out that the best way to keep him is to NOT to behave like a normal wife, and instead make him fight for their relationship. Heck, she even outsmarts the private detective he hires to follow her around, and turns the tables on him, too! Considering how casually Michael considers marriage, it’s hard not to cheer for her as she tries to bring him around to her way of thinking!
I may be coming off my first time seeing this movie, but, wow! What a screwball comedy! I personally think that the chemistry between Claudette and Gary Cooper makes this film work quite well! Again, the fact that he thinks he’s so smart (while she proves far smarter than him) is what makes this film fun! I’ll admit, one moment between the two that sticks out in my mind is when he reads Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew for inspiration on how to handle her. I’ll admit, the only reason this moment works (since he slaps her and then later spanks her) is because she gives as good as she gets, frustrating him to the point of throwing the book in the fire (without that, it wouldn’t be that funny). Honestly, if I have ANY complaint about this movie, it’s that Edward Everett Horton isn’t in it enough! In my opinion, he steals the picture, whether it be his reaction when he finds out about the previous wives (he faints offscreen), to the greed he displays when he hears about the settlements that the other wives got from their divorces. But I’ll never forget how he gets himself into the sanitarium to see Michael when he suffers a nervous breakdown. Seriously, this movie is just a hoot from start to finish, and one I look forward to seeing again and again (so, yes, I would definitely recommend it)!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. This movie appears to be using an HD scan, one that was probably done a while back. Still, it looks at least decent, with very little dirt or debris. One would wish that it could be improved with a new scan, but this is still good enough for a wonderful movie, and the best way to see it for the time being!
Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Bride Comes Home (1935) – Claudette Colbert – The Palm Beach Story (1942)
Alice In Wonderland (1933) – Gary Cooper – Sergeant York (1941)
Top Hat (1935) – Edward Everett Horton – College Swing (1938)
David Niven – Bachelor Mother (1939)
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