Thursday, May 25, 2017


Playboy Maxwell Bard, who has had heart problems most of this life, dies and goes Heaven, but he asks one favor first: to look down upon a circle of friends on earth to see how they handle a situation he set in motion before dying. Along with a will, which is to be read the next day, Maxwell left letters for three husbands, telling each one that Maxwell had indulged in an affair with each of their wives. Advertising man Arthur knows his wife Jane made a habit of attending the symphony on Fridays with Maxwell but didn't suspect any further relationship, even though he was dilly-dallying with Matilda, an ad illustrator who was introduced to him by Max. Kenneth and Mary have had to put up with Ken's nosy mother who lives with them, and Kenneth was suspicious of the amount of time Mary put in nursing Max after his various heart attacks; he even snuck over to Max's house one night when he was sure that Mary was there—though she wasn't, Max put on quite a show for Ken's benefit. The third husband, Dan, laughs off the letter at first until he starts putting two and two together and realizes that his wife Lucille had been spending a lot of her free time with Max, supposedly as part of a committee they were on. Small cracks that were present in the marriages become too big to ignore and all three couple seem headed for divorce court, until the reading of the will clarifies everything.

This is a charming little comedy with a screenplay by Vera Caspary, based, it would seem, on the more melodramatic screenplay she wrote the year before for A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (see also PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER). That film, as I recall, was more serious in intent and tone; this one stays light, even when divorces are in the offing. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that everything is righted at the end, though frankly I'm not sure I found all of the relationships worth saving. It's an independently made film and it shows in the fairly low budget and plain sets, but the acting is worthwhile all around, the standouts being Shepperd Strudwick and Ruth Warrick as the central couple (Arthur and Jane) and Howard Da Silva and Eve Arden as Dan and Lucille. The third couple is played by Robert Karnes and Vanessa Brown (pictured), neither of whom I was familiar with, but they're fine. Welsh actor Emlyn Williams is nicely low-key as Max, the catalyst for all the fuss, and Billie Burke (Glinda in OZ) is almost unrecognizable as Ken's mother. Light but enjoyable. [YouTube]

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