Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife

I recently watched Bluebeard's Eighth Wife off my DVR, and with it being available on DVD courtesy of Universal's MOD scheme, I'm also comfortable doing a full-length post on it.

Gary Cooper plays Michael Brandon, a wealthy American businessman currently working on the French Riviera, for reasons that are never really explained. He goes in to one of those old-time department stores where you have to deal with the clerks, wanting to buy some pajamas. Well, he only wants to buy the pajama tops, since he uses those as a sort of night shirt and doesn't wear the pajama bottoms. The store only wants to sell them as a set. Into all this walks Nicole (Claudette Colbert). She solves everybody's problems by offering to buy the pants.

Michael immediately falls in love with Nicole, and starts pursuing her. Nicole, meanwhile, has a father who is a Marquis (Edward Everett Horton), although French titles of nobility no longer meant anything. That lack of meaning probably has a lot to do with why the Marquis is heavily in debt. He's been trying to do a business deal with Brandon, and then when he finds that Brandon has been pursuing Nicole, he gets dollar signs (or probably franc symbols) in his eyes. After an on-again, off-again thing, Nicole finally decides to marry Michael.

And then she finds out about Michael's past. Michael has been married seven times (who wants to deal with that many mothers-in-law?), and always winds up divorcing, leaving his ex-wives with a substantial settlement as he's agreed with them before the marriage. Nicole, for her part, decides that she wants to wangle more money out of him.

As you can guess, the kicker is that the two are going to wind up falling in love, although neither of them wants to admit it. They lead separate lives, with each becoming jealous of the other, leading to the predictable divorce and then a reuniting.

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife is a movie that I found to be a lesser one in the careers of all the major people involved with it. Colbert and Cooper both made much better movies. So did the director, Ernst Lubitsch, and the screenwriters, Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. I think it has a lot to do with the plot that seems all over the place. It's not really Wilder and Brackett's fault, since they were adapting a French stage play. Still, the characters aren't particularly likable and a lot of their actions make no sense.

Some of the supporting players do well in their smaller parts. David Niven, early in his career, plays Albert, a friend of Nicole's and one of Brandon's employees, and gets a good scene as the wrong man. Horton is quite good, as are Herman Bing as a private eye and Elizabeth Patterson as Nicole's "aunt".

If you want a good movie of any of the main people involved, you can do better than Bluebeard's Eighth Wife. But if you want a comedy from the 30s you might not have seen before, you could do a lot worse.

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