Thursday, February 04, 2010


A bland romantic comedy which fits in the screwball "comedy of remarriage" genre but lacks the wit and verve we associate with screwballs. The film, set on the home front during WWII, begins in a divorce court then flashes back to a whirlwind romance between Jean Arthur and solider Lee Bowman. Over four days, the two meet and marry and spend their wedding night together before he is called back to duty. Eighteen months later, Bowman returns home to Arthur, whom he realizes he barely knows, a baby daughter he has never seen, his father-in-law (Charles Coburn), and a rather prim boarder (Phil Brown) who has been chastely helping Arthur with her household and mothering duties. Bowman feels like a stranger and Brown, who doesn't want to get booted out, makes things worse on purpose. After Bowman and Arthur have a fight, they head for divorce court, where the movie began. Coburn talks the judge (Edgar Buchanan) into forcing the two to give their marriage one more chance, so Buchanan sends them back to relive their first weekend together, from their meeting in a waffle shop to buying flowers to their first kiss, all the way up to their marriage by a justice of the peace. The two do thaw a bit, and there is an amusing scene in their adjoining hotel rooms with Charley Grapewin as a nosy bellhop. There is no suspense about how things will end up, so your enjoyment of this film will depend on your enjoyment of the actors. I found little chemistry between Bowman and Arthur, and though I usually like Arthur, I think she's at fault here, seeming to be running at half-speed for most of the movie. This may have been an attempt by Columbia Pictures to reproduce the box-office appeal of THE MORE THE MERRIER, a much better wartime romance with Arthur, Coburn, and Joel McCrea, but it doesn't come close. Brown is a bit awkward in the part of the asexual spoiler; Eddie Bracken could have done more with the role. Grapewin is good, and other fine support comes from Jane Darwell, Grant Mitchell, and Harry Davenport. I would recommend it mostly for fans of the underrated Lee Bowman (pictured above). [TCM]

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