17 May 2020 | SimonJack
Pitiful screenplay, humorless and tedious three-fourths story sink this film
Occasionally, one comes across a film that's virtually unknown -- all but forgotten, but that turns out to be a gem. On the other hand, many forgotten films are more often unknown for the opposite reason. They're either stinkers or just not very good. Allowing for the difference in taste among reviewers - and possibly the degrees of sobriety, consciousness and/or sanity when viewing one of these films, some may find gems in stinkers and others stinkers in gems.
Well, "Wives Never Know" isn't exactly a stinker, but it's sure not a gem. First, it has no witty or humorous dialog. Not until near the very end does it have any funny antics, and it's a strain to get any humor out of the situations until the very end. So, it has about one quarter of each of two elements that make up comedy. That's about one-sixth of comedy, at the best.
The leads in this film - Charles Ruggles, Adolphe Menjou and Mary Boland all played in some wonderful comedies. And the fault in this film isn't anything to do with their acting. It's just a weak, long drawn-out story sans humor, with a terrible screenplay. This film suffers from a poor story, lousy script, and weak direction. Elliott Nugent directed some good comedies in his day, but he got saddled with a screenplay and story that drags on and on in the first three-quarters without anything funny at all. What there is of comedy the last 15 minutes can't save this dud.
Paramount was known for some smashing comedies throughout Hollywood's golden era. One suspects this is one film the studio brass didn't mind sliding into oblivion.
Here's an example of the dialog that's supposed to pass for humor in this film. Menjou's Hugh Ramsey, "Does a vegetable ever think of itself as a vegetable? No."