Favorite things about… I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

The favorite film:
I Was a Male War Bride, a 1949 comedy directed by Howard Hawks

(Image via palzoo.net)
(Image via palzoo.net)

The synopsis:
Henri Rochard is a Captain in the French army. He has been assigned to work with Lt. Catherine Gates, a member of the Women’s Army Corps, in post-World War II Europe. The only transportation available for their mission is a motorcycle, and Henri must ride in the sidecar since he’s not an American officer. Though they get off to a rocky start, Henri and Catherine eventually fall for each other. But in order to accompany his new lady-friend back to America, Henri most become a “war bride.”

The cast:

  • Cary Grant as Henri Rochard
  • Ann Sheridan as Lt. Catherine Gates
  • Marion Marshall as Lt. Kitty Law
  • Randy Stuart as Lt. Eloise Billings
  • William Neff as Capt. Jack Ramsey

Fun facts:

  • This was Howard Hawks’ first film to be shot on location in Europe.
  • This film is based on a book by the real Henri Rochard, a Belgian officer who married an American nurse.
  • The film and its source material do not share a name, and for good reason. The book’s lengthy title is as follows: I Was an Alien Spouse of Female Military Personnel Enroute to the United States Under Public Law 271 of the Congress.
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
  • Though his role is uncredited, this was Edward Platt’s first film.
  • Much of the cast and crew, including the film’s two stars, fell ill during production.
  • Cast member Eleanor Audley (who plays the assignment officer) is most famous for voicing the Disney villain Maleficent in the original, animated Sleeping Beauty film.

Favorite things:

  • Even when speaking languages other than English, and playing a French officer, Cary Grant preserves his trademark transcontinental accent.
  • Henri returning Lt. Gates’ laundry in front of everyone in her office. Scaaaandal!
  • From their first scene together, Grant and Sheridan’s banter is amazing.
  • Henri: “The very idea of any connection is revolting!”
    Catherine: “Oh, no, you don’t. Nevermind…”
    Henri: “I’d be delighted. I’ll explain to them. I think you’re repulsive!”
  • Catherine: “May I have my foot?”
  • Catherine: “I may as well warn you, bubblemouth. I’m going to carry a revolver and a trench knife. And if you so much as lay a finger on me this trip, you’re going back to France minus a lot of parts you probably value.”
  • Catherine cracking up at the idea of Henri being unable to remove the blue paint
  • The sidecar coming detached from the motorcycle, starting the pair’s journey off on the wrong foot
  • Henri: “It’s a pleasure to get out of this portable bathtub.”
  • Henri getting stuck on the railroad crossing gate!
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
  • Catherine: “We must have been driving alongside that road for the last hour.”
    Henri: “Perhaps they just moved it there.”
    Catherine: “Oh, shut up!”
  • Henri hiding under a tarp in the sidecar while Catherine drives through a torrential downpour
  • Henri trying to get comfortable enough to sleep in a too-small wooden chair
  • Henri and the innkeeper knocking on the door at each other
  • Innkeeper: “CLIMBING IN THE NICE YOUNG LADY’S ROOM?”
  • Catherine telling the German police she’s never seen Henri in her life
  • Henri confessing his affection to… an empty motorcycle
  • Henri (on when he and Catherine decided to marry): “This afternoon, about 2:30.”
    Catherine: “In a haystack!”
  • Catherine’s buddies questioning her decision to marry a “foreigner,” and one friend rebutting them by telling them that they need to get glasses
  • Henri: “The American Army better be careful or they’re not going to have any American children very soon!”
  • Catherine hitting the man who hid the papers on the head with a baking sheet
  • Catherine: “Yes, we know, we know, dear. You can write.”
  • Henri: “‘Dear madam’… oh yeah, that’s me.”
  • The sergeant asking Henri questions he’d usually ask a female war bride, like whether he’s pregnant
  • Everyone and their brother: “And youuuu can’t sleep here.”
  • Henri: “Massachu-chu-chu”
  • Catherine making Henri a wig out of a horse’s tail
  • Kitty (referring to Henri, after seeing him as “Florence” for the first time): “Catherine, he looks awful!”
  • Henri tossing his wig (and the room key – SCAAAANDAL!) out the porthole
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
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3 thoughts on “Favorite things about… I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

  1. Cary Grant: the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen in my life! One of my favorites, and one of my grandmother’s, too, which I watch every other year on her birthday (the other years I watch her #1 favorite, It Happened One Night). I watch it mostly for Ann Sheridan, of course, but her and Cary sure are fun. Too bad they didn’t make more movies together.

    Like

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