Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Matrimonial Bed

One of the seldom-seen Michael Curtiz movies that showed up in the spotlight TCM did last month was The Matrimonial Bed. Having been done at Warner Bros., it's unsurprisingly available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Florence Eldrige plays Juliet Corton, a fashionable Parisian society wife married to Gustave (James Gleason), her first husband Adolphe having died in a train crash five years ago. However, she and all the servants loved her first husband, so a portrait of him still hangs on the wall, much to Gustave's consternation. Anyhow, Juliet is having a get-together tonight, so she needs to have her hair styled. Her friend suggests the stylist she uses, Leopold (Frank Fay).

Leopold shows up, and all the servants are convinced that he looks exactly like the first husband in the portrait, which sends them all into a panic. However, Leopold understandably says that he has no memory of the place and that he couldn't possibly be Adolphe, despite not having memories going back much farther than five years. Julite is also stunned, and Gustave is even more dyspeptic over the fact that the servants are all going nuts.

The way to solve the mystery is to bring in the famed hypnotist Dr. Beaudine, who is going to be able to hypnotize Leopold and bring back his past. Really, it's that idiotic. If Adolphe hadn't died in the crash, wouldn't the doctors at the hospital have done this and solved everybody's problem? Well, the hypnotists does his spiel, and the man that wakes up is Adolphe, with no memory of Leopold.

Everybody in the house starts going even nuttier than Billie Burke's Millicent Jordan from Dinner at Eight, and things get even more complicated when Leopold's wife shows up. How are they going to solve all the problems?

Frankly, I found The Matrimonial Bed to be a tedious slog to get through. I think I've stated in the past that I tend not to be a fan of the drawing-room comedies of the early sound era, as well as not a fan of the sort of movie where a character has to build lie upon lie upon lie, especially since it doesn't work and isn't funny. The Matrimonial Bed has both of them, and the glaring hypnosis-related plot hole that I mentioned earlier. Pretty much everybody is irritating and stupid, and you just want to smack everybody and explain to them what happened.

OK, so I saw The Matrimonial Bed and can check it off the list. I have no desire to see it again. If you do like this sort of movie, you can get the Warner Archive disc, although it's a bit pricey.

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