Next Time I Marry (1938)

Cruising through the WPA work yard in her convertible, Nancy Crocker Fleming (Lucille Ball) is on the hunt for a husband. The men are at work digging a ditch; she shouts out and asks each if he is married.

Finally, she meets Anthony Joseph Anthony (James Ellison), an eligible bachelor. She offers him $500 if he’ll agree to marry her. He won’t be bought for that price… but he will be bought for just over $700, so off to the justice of the peace they go.

(Image via C1N3)

(Image via C1N3)

Nancy’s not interested in a lasting marriage and quickly dumps her new husband on a street corner, his payment in hand. There’s just one little problem: his dog, Mike, is still in her car. Naturally, to retrieve the pup, Tony tracks down his bride, a New York heiress who has married for the sake of an inheritance despite the fact that she was already engaged to another man. Complications ensue.

Garson Kanin directs 1938’s Next Time I Marry. This film aired on TCM in September as part of a series of “divorce comedies.”

I haven’t seen too many of Lucille Ball’s earlier films. I love The Long, Long Trailer and I Love Lucy (among other titles), but when it comes to her ’30s work, my exposure is fairly limited considering the amount of movies she made in that decade! As such, I was excited to have the opportunity to watch Next Time I Marry.

Funnily enough, this film seems to be a bit of a precursor to The Long, Long Trailer. It involves a gang of friendly rivals (Nancy, Tony, Nancy’s gold-digging beau, a chauffer, and Mike the dog) traveling to Reno, trailer in tow. In one scene, Nancy catches the trailer on fire — a mishap not too different from the many faced by Nicky and Tacy in the later of the two films.

I’ve got to give Next Time I Marry a major cute puppy bonus, because Mike can absolutely be considered a supporting character here. In one scene that I found very funny (because it reminded me of my dog), a plate of food sits between Nancy and Mike. Both reach for the food repeatedly — Nancy with her hand, Mike with his paw. Too cute!

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

The story is part road trip comedy, part love triangle, part society tale. Aside from the added road trip element, this blend is nothing that hadn’t been done before at the time of the film’s release (and nothing that hasn’t been done since), but the performances are quite good, making for a lighthearted and likable watch.

Next Time I Marry is a screwball comedy of misadventure and mishap, and a pretty successful one, even if it doesn’t match the quick pace or snappy dialogue of the absolute best of the genre. I’d say it’s worthy of a watch. The score: 3.5/5

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