Sir Robert Chiltern (Hugh Williams) is a prominent politician preparing to make his career by exposing a huge financial scandal.
But whether he will be able to follow through with his plan is questionable when Laura Cheveley (Paulette Goddard) enters the picture. Laura has invested in the very fradulent venture that Robert is trying to uncover, and she’s prepared to stop him in his tracks.
She has discovered a secret about Robert from his past that would damage his career and reputation. Naturally, she decides to blackmail him with this information.
And meanwhile, Arthur finds no support from his wife Gertrude (Diana Wynyard), who is intolerant of his every small mistake and flaw. Gertrude is also suspicious of Laura, who is a long-time enemy from their days as schoolmates.
Alexander Korda directs 1947’s An Ideal Husband. This technicolor film is based on the play of the same name by Oscar Wilde and was adapted for the screen by Lajos Biro. The original Broadway production of Wilde’s play opened in 1895. This story has served as the basis for five theatrical films, four television movies and three television episodes.
Paulette Goddard is very captivating in her role of sneaky-snake Laura. She gives the best performance of the film, and her delivery has a zest of life to it that the rest of the film is missing. Goddard plays Laura in such a way that she’s obviously very charming despite her corruption.
Also striking are the costumes and set design, which feature bright colors and strong details. Everything about this film visually is elaborate and beautiful to look at.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positive elements of this film end. The plot itself has the potential to be very interesting, but since Goddard gives the only performance that truly captures the viewer, the film overall is lackluster. It’s very difficult for the viewer to get drawn into the plot because we couldn’t possibly care less about any of these characters.
An Ideal Husband is billed as a comedy, but even in its funniest scenes it’s no hilarious treat for the viewer. It has a few moments of wit and drama, but overall has trouble grabbing the viewer’s interest. The film doesn’t allow itself to be as great as it could have been. It picks up a bit in both pace and humor once the ending nears, but the change comes far too late to salvage the film.
As a result, the story seems to drag on for hours. It runs for only a little over an hour and a half, but it feels much longer than that.
An Ideal Husband is a slow and stiff film, high on style and visual appeal but low on just about everything else. The score: 1/5
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