Kenneth Bixby is a sensation of the American literary world, having written a number of best-selling, well-received novels. By his side through it all is Anne Rogers, his faithful secretar… WAIT. Haven’t I written this before?
In fact, I have. The tale of Kenneth Bixby, his crazed fans, and his secretary’s love for him was told in Michael Curtiz’s Goodbye Again (1933). The roles of Kenneth and Anne were portrayed by Warren William and Joan Blondell in that version; 1941’s Honeymoon for Three swaps out those pre-code players for George Brent and Ann Sheridan, and swaps out Curtiz for director Lloyd Bacon.
When I reviewed Goodbye Again, I gave it a perfect score – “5/5!,” exclamation point and all. The pace, the performances, and the incredibly witty script make that film a wholly delightful watch despite the fact that it doesn’t contain many surprises. Naturally, I was curious to see how Honeymoon for Three would measure up when TCM aired it in September.
Honeymoon for Three is a pretty good watch. The pace isn’t quite as snappy as in the earlier version, but there are several amusing scenes to delight the viewer.
My favorite involves Mr. Bixby table-hopping at a restaurant. He has one table with his old college love Julie, and one with a larger group (including Julie’s husband and Anne). He tries very hard to pull the wool over all of their eyes, pretending that he’s going to the washroom or to the phone whenever he moves between tables. He can’t fool the waiter, however.
The leading performances are solid, and the supporting cast is very nice as well, including Jane Wyman and Charlie Ruggles.
There are a few little twists to the characters in comparison with the 1933 version. Julie, for example, met Kenneth when she was a foreign exchange student, and blames herself/the end of their relationship for the cynicism of his novels. She’s quite a contrast to Genevieve Tobin’s version of the character. Tobin played Julie with a frantic energy and a more overt form of obsession over Kenneth. Osa Massen seems smitten, but not quite as obsessive.
Ann Sheridan’s Anne Rogers is somewhat different from Joan Blondell’s as well. Sheridan’s Anne is every bit as outspoken as Blondell’s but not quite as snarky or sassy. She’s still witty, but dryly so, and also somewhat stern.
Honeymoon for Three would require a little jolt of energy to match the fun and excitement of Goodbye Again, but it’s not a bad watch at all. The score: 3.5/5