6 April 2013 | blanche-2
The wife who came to dinner...
...or, rather, The Wife Who Came to Reclaim Her Husband. "Our Wife" was released in 1941 and stars Melvyn Douglas, Ruth Hussey, Ellen Drew, and Charles Coburn. Douglas plays a composer, Jerry Marvin, who meets Susan Drake (Hussey) while she's on a ship with her father (Coburn) and brother Tom (John Hubbard). Finding Jerry drunk during one of the tourist stops and seeing him heading away from the boat, Susan and her family escort him back to the ship. However, someone has taken his cabin, and they find out it's because he was supposed to have disembarked. And, since all the cabins are taken, they're stuck with him. Despite his anger -- he was en route to a job -- they all become great friends.
Jerry turns his house in Westchester over to the family for the summer, but when he gets to his job, he finds out it's not what he wants, and he returns home to do some composing. But he wants the family to continue staying in the house. By then, he and Susan have fallen for one another.
Then Jerry's wife Babe (Drew), from whom his divorce becomes final in three months, shows up. Partly to get rid of her and partly because he's in love with Susan, he introduces Susan as his fiancé. Babe promptly manages to slip on the stairs and claims she can't walk. And it could take months for her to recover. Maybe a trip with Jerry to Hot Springs, Georgia will help her. Susan, meanwhile, is positive that Babe is faking and is determined to prove it. She soon learns that she will need to have the wiles of a snake in order to do it.
Directed by John Stahl, this is an amusing comedy rather than a hilarious one. The performances really make it, with the always relaxed and charming Douglas, the beautiful Drew, and the dry-witted Hussey all turning in very good performances. Charles Coburn is great as Susan and Tom's father.
I could have really done without the very end of the film, which seemed very silly. Otherwise, it was pleasant and well done for what it was. But it could have been a lot more.