Maxwell Bard (Emlyn Williams), an Englishman who had been living in California, has died of a heart attack. Upon arrival in heaven, he’s greeted by an angel and told that he can have one wish granted before he ascends into paradise.
Max uses his one wish to spy on some of his old friends. Before he died, Max wrote letters to three men: Arthur Evans (Shepperd Strudwick), Kenneth Whittaker (Robert Karnes) and Dan McCabe (Howard Da Silva). Each letter says that Max had an affair with each man’s wife. (The wives are portrayed by Ruth Warrick, Vanessa Brown and Eve Arden.)
From the sky, Max watches as each of his three friends react to the letters, which are identical aside from the name they’re addressed to.
Irving Reis directs 1950’s Three Husbands. As you may have guessed from the synopsis, this film is a gender-swapped rip-off of 1949’s A Letter to Three Wives. Vera Caspary contributed to the script of both films.
Three Husbands opens in a fun way. Shots of clouds and the night sky are layered with voice-overs of men being granted their one wish as they enter heaven. The final voice-over comes from our sneaky letter-writer, Max.
We then head to a law office where Max’s friends have arrived, expecting to hear his will read. Instead, they each receive one of the letters about their wives.
This story is told largely through flashbacks, so we get to see Max’s personality and the nature of his friendships in addition to seeing how the other men react to the letters. Though I can’t say much without spoiling the ending, these flashbacks ultimately serve to justify Max’s scheme with the letters.
The performances in in Three Husbands are solid. They’re not remarkable, but neither is the script the actors are working with. The film serves its purpose of providing light entertainment for the viewer, and the cast handles that task well.
Everything gets wrapped up in an ending that’s a little bit silly. I love the fact that the ending goes for the gold(en corn). It’s the cherry on top of what was already a pleasant comedy; the story leading up to the cheesy final moments is fun to watch. The score: 3.5/5
Mill Creek’s print of Three Husbands runs at 77 minutes. According to the TCM database, the film was originally 79 minutes long, so a couple of minutes are missing here. The visual quality isn’t great, either. The picture is pretty fuzzy, with lots of pops and crackles. It’s still watchable, though, and the sound quality is much better than the visual.
For those of you who don’t own Mill Creek’s Nifty Fifties boxed set and are interested in watching this film, it’s available to stream for free at the Internet Archive.
I always think of Howard Da Silva as a film noir actor, so it would be interesting to see him in a comedic role. And I know you can’t give it away, but now your review has me eager to discover how all of this ‘affair with three wives’ bit plays out, so I may have to pay a visit to the Internet Archive!
I can spoil it for you if you’d like, but the film is worth a watch if you’d rather find out that way haha. It’s a nice little comedy for a lazy afternoon.
Naw, don’t spoil it…at just 77 minutes, and free on-line, I’ll save it for a lazy afternoon and be surprised!