Affectionately Yours (1941)

Having the opportunity to travel the world as a reporter can turn a married man into a womanizer – or so is the case for Rickey Mayberry (Dennis Morgan). Though his caring wife, Sue (Merle Oberon), waits for him in the States, Rickey spends his “business” trips flirting with just about every attractive woman he comes in contact with.

Rickey often ropes in the ladies, promising them that if not for his stubborn wife refusing to divorce him, he would propose to them. He uses this trick on fellow reporter Irene Malcolm (Rita Hayworth), but much to his surprise he discovers that his wife has finally divorced him because he’s away from home too often. And on top of that, she has become involved with another man, Owen (Ralph Bellamy).

Rickey and Irene return to New York, where Rickey tries to stop Sue from marrying Owen, Irene tries to keep Rickey away from Sue and Owen tries to keep his woman.

Meanwhile Rickey’s boss, Chester Phillips (James Gleason), also has a stake in the matter. If Rickey wins Sue back he’ll quit covering international stories in order to stay with his wife in New York, and Phillips doesn’t want to lose his best foreign correspondent.

Lloyd Bacon directs 1941’s Affectionately Yours, a Warner Bros. comedy of romantic complications.

With such a great cast on board for both lead and supporting roles, this film sets the viewer up with very high expectations. Aside from the stars of Hayworth, Morgan, Oberon and Bellamy, appearances are also made James Gleason (as mentioned above), Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, and George Tobias among others. The screen presence and solid performances of these actors make it easy for the viewer to get drawn into the movie.

Merle Oberon is the standout of the film. Her character is stuck in a back-and-forth trap between the two apples of her eye and can’t seem to make a solid decision. When she sides with one of the men she seems completely convinced of her decision, but this always changes a few minutes later. Merle pulls off this confusion and flip-flopping with ease, providing the audience with a character that is believably indecisive.

Hayworth’s performance is more than solid as well and she serves as a scene-stealer, matching wits with Oberon effortlessly. And Bellamy is in top form in his usual role: a big sap who never, ever seems to get the girl. (Oh, poor Ralph!)

But unfortunately, the film as a whole doesn’t quite live up to the promise if its cast. The story itself doesn’t immediately grab the viewer, and it isn’t until the complications become apparent with the introduction of Bellamy and Oberon that the film becomes exciting. The secondary conflict of man versus editor also gives the story a jolt of life.

Though not as engrossing as it could have been, there are a few unpredictable little twists to the story, and the script gets a nice boost from the actors’ snappy delivery. Nearly all of the film’s wit comes from the delivery, but there are a few zingers in the dialogue, particularly from Oberon’s character. A tale of scheme-y people caught in the trap of a love quadrangle and constantly plotting against each other makes for a fun watch.

Affectionately Yours is a solid romantic comedy, with a cast so wonderful that the actors are reason enough to watch. While it doesn’t ever fully reach its potential, it’s still an exciting and often very funny little film. The score: 3.5/5

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