Bride By Mistake (1944)

Nora Hunter (Laraine Day) is a very wealthy woman, but also a very mysterious one. Choosing not to let herself be seen by the general public, whenever there’s work outside of the home office that must be done, she sends her assistant Sylvia Lockwood (Marsha Hunt) out in her place.

(Image via Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings)

Nora’s trouble is that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s rich. It tends to have a pretty big impact on their opinions of her.

After Nora’s latest fiance breaks their engagement, Sylvia wants to throw a party to cheer her up. But Nora only agrees if Sylvia will pose as her and she, in turn, can be a “normal” girl for the night.

It all seems like a good plan, until military officer Tony Travis (Alan Marshal) takes a liking to both Sylvia and Nora, deciding to stick around and visit for a while. Will the ladies be able to keep up the charade, or will Nora have to fess up when she falls in love?

Bride By Mistake was directed by Richard Wallace. The screenplay was written by Phoebe and Henry Ephron, from a story by Norman Krasna.

The film’s premise isn’t exactly unique. We’ve seen it in 1934’s The Richest Girl in the World (which was written by Krasna), as well as several other “rich-person-undercover” rom-coms. But, I still enjoyed watching it!

Marsha Hunt and Laraine Day both give nice performances, with plenty of fun scenes shared between them as they try to pull off the identity-swapping scheme.

Isolated by her wealth, Nora’s life is a lonely one. As her latest ex-fiance explains her husband-finding struggles: “It’ll either be a guy who loves you so much he can take [the notoriety/attention], or someone who loves your money so much he doesn’t care.”

(Image via ebay)

Day plays her role very sympathetically. Nora doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she’s also not just the “poor little rich girl.” Day creates a character that the audience genuinely feels for. (That scene where Tony talks to her through the door after announcing his engagement, for example… heartbreaking! All thanks to Day’s talent.)

There’s a lot of silly humor, including an “attack of the sprinklers” scene and a running gag about the “secrecy” under which the film’s story must be kept, “due to military precautions.”

But there’s also a lot of talk of the war — its impact on people’s lives and decisions. In one scene, Nora lets a young couple marry in her mansion, saying she understands how they just want to pretend there’s no war for a while. A reflection of the war-weary audience’s feelings, about three years into the fighting.

Bride By Mistake is somewhat of a standard rom-com, but it brings several laughs, some drama, and plenty of fun. Recommended for fans of the genre, of mistaken-identity plots, or of leading lady Laraine Day.

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