Favorite things about… My Favorite Wife

(Image via Happyotter)

(Image via Happyotter)

The favorite film:
My Favorite Wife, a 1940 screwball/romantic comedy directed by Garson Kanin for RKO.

The synopsis:
After being presumed dead in a horrible accident seven years ago and spending all of those years stranded on an island, Ellen Arden has finally returned to the United States, where she hopes to reunite with her family. But she’ll soon find out that the reunion isn’t going to be a joyful one — her husband, Nick, has just married a woman named Bianca. Determined to win her husband back and regain the life she lost seven years ago, Ellen schemes to knock Bianca out of the picture.

(Image via Doctor Macro)

(Image via Doctor Macro)

The cast:

  • Irene Dunne as Ellen
  • Cary Grant as Nick
  • Randolph Scott as Burkett/Adam
  • Gail Patrick as Bianca
  • Ann Shoemaker as Ma
  • Granville Bates as the judge

Fun facts:

  • This film was remade as Something’s Got to Give (unfinished, starring Marilyn Monroe) and Move Over, Darling (starring Doris Day)
  • A Porky Pig short called My Favorite Duck was released to spoof this film in 1942.
  • This film is loosely inspired by the poem “Enoch Arden” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which tells the story of a fisherman lost at sea who returns to discover that his wife has married someone else. This poem inspired five films prior to My Favorite Wife, all of which stuck more closely to the source material.
  • In Move Over, Darling, Ellen (Doris Day) describes the plot of My Favorite Wife while posing as a masseuse and giving Bianca a massage.
  • Leo McCarey was set to direct this film, and even co-wrote the script. He had to be replaced when he was injured in a car accident. He would later direct Cary Grant in Once Upon a Honeymoon and An Affair to Remember.
  • In the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, Nick (Dennis Quaid), upon seeing Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson), imitates the scene in which My Favorite Wife‘s Nick (Cary Grant) sees Ellen (Irene Dunne) for the first time in seven years.
  • The film was nominated for three Oscars: best black and white art direction, best original score and best writing.
(Image via Doctor Macro)

(Image via Doctor Macro)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • The embroidered opening credits
  • The judge being blinded by Bianca’s compact and telling her she ought to wash her face instead of paint it
  • Ellen seeing the kids again for the first time
  • Tim: “Daddy says he doesn’t want her to look like a moose when she grows up!”
  • Nick’s mom: “He met this one on the boat… when he went to look for you”
  • Irene’s wardrobe
  • The older lady side-eyeing Ellen’s too-long hemline
  • Cary leaning as the elevator door closes
  • The waiter delivering the champagne “with the compliments of an old friend” (and the face Nick makes upon hearing this)
  • Nick trying to find excuses to leave the suite
  • The matching leopard robes
  • Bartender: “There’s an ordinance in this state that don’t allow necking in barrooms”
  • Nick’s face when Ellen asks if he loves Bianca
  • Nick: “I’ve got a feeling you’re enjoying my misery.”
  • The hotel manager scolding Nick and saying he’s going to ruin the hotel’s 30-year reputation of respectability
(Image via Indiana Hollywood Hall of Fame)

(Image via Indiana Hollywood Hall of Fame)

  • “Don’t tell me you’ve got somebody in B!”
  • Nick talking to himself on the stairs
  • Bianca and nick talking to each other from two phone booths over + him trying to convince her that he’s at an airport (“THE PROPELLERS!”)
  • Irene Dunne’s fake southern accent + “kissin’ the bridegroom” + swinging Nick’s arm around
  • Bianca yelling on the phone to her mother
  • Bianca: “Do you love me?”
    Nick: “Why Bianca, you’re one of the most attractive girls I know!”
    Bianca: “I’M YOUR WIFE!”
  • Nick freaking out when the insurance man tells him about “Adam” & “Eve”
  • Nick: “How can you sleep at a time like this? Dreaming about Adam, I suppose.”
  • Random lady at the club’s pool, in reference to Randolph Scott’s character: “Young man, is that Johnny Weissmuller?”
  • Ellen enlisting the shoe salesman to play “Adam”/Stephen for a day (and him assuming she wants something else)
  • Tiny Randolph Scott doing acrobatic moves in the air in Nick’s office
  • Ellen shaking her leg so fake-Stephen will know to say his leg was injured
  • Nick and Ellen’s hysterical laughter as he suggests they go to the Pacific Club for lunch
  • Nick (to the real Stephen/”Adam”): “Does turkey appeal to you or do confine yourself to raw meat?”
  • Ellen (to Stephen, explaining Nick’s behavior): “He’s arranged this meeting to trap us into a confession.”
  • Stephen calling Ellen a “charming playmate”
  • Nick: “Impulsive?! He’s… FULL OF CARROTS!”
  • Ellen falling into the pool just after boasting being able to take care of herself
  • Stephen: “After seven years, what’s another half hour?”
  • Nick (to Stephen): “Do you ride in cabs, or do you just trot alongside?”
  • Bianca calling in a doctor for help dealing with Nick’s odd behavior… and the doctor walking in on Nick posing in front of a mirror with women’s clothing
  • Judge: “What do you want me to do, reverse myself?
  • Ellen saying the judge can’t fine her because she’s legally dead and he couldn’t dare take money from a corpse
  • Stephen laughing at the “Mulligan stew” joke five minutes late
  • Judge: “I’d like to tell my wife about this case. She thinks all my cases are dull!”
  • Bianca paying a $25 fine to punch Nick in the face — “IT WAS WORTH IT!”
  • Bianca (to Nick): “As far as I’m concerned, you’re legally dead!”
(Image via Happyotter)

(Image via Happyotter)


5 thoughts on “Favorite things about… My Favorite Wife

  1. Pingback: Star Spotlight: Cary Grant | the motion pictures

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