The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940)
Columbia studios takes another shot at the screwball comedy here with a tip of the hat towards a battle of the sexes script featuring stars of the day Loretta Young and Ray Milland.
Loretta is cast here as a successful author who is a hero to women everywhere with her latest book that inspires women to become more independent and to quit being subservient to men.
Ray on the other hand is a professor of psychiatry who has his thoughts on where women belong and their proper place in a relationship. Hijinks prevail leading the press to believe that the opinionated Young has gotten herself married. This is news! They’ve named Milland as her new husband. This doesn’t sit well with Ray or his fiance played by Gail Patrick.
There’s plenty of gags that ensue as Ray and Loretta play married couple in order to maintain a proper place in society till they can arrange a quickie divorce for a marriage that never happened in the first place. Turning up as Milland’s proud father is scene stealer Edmund Gwenn. He let’s Ray know that he never liked his intended bride Patrick but is ecstatic with Loretta.
It’s not going to take a genius to figure out how this is going to end but isn’t that the fun with screwball comedies? To see where the hijinks take us to the inevitable fade out?
Columbia studios and Harry Cohn were responsible for a number of these comedies including the classic Oscar winner It Happened One Night in 1934. While this film can’t compete it does make for passable entertainment with both our leads doing their best to entertain us. Young turns on the waterworks when needed with her large expressive eyes and Ray does his best to keep two women happy while holding on to the charade and keep his sanity.
The film was directed by Alexander Hall and scripted by George Seaton. Seaton himself would turn to directing and was behind the camera for a Christmas classic. The 1947 film Miracle on 47th Street which reunited him with Edmund Gwenn in his Oscar winning role.
Three Stooges fans will note the trio’s long time nemesis Vernon Dent in an unbilled cameo as a man waiting outside a phone booth where Milland is trying to win back Patrick after she discovers the supposed marriage of Milland and Young via the newspapers.
While this is no classic it’s nice to remember that Ray could play light comedy in his pre-oscar days and before he turned to miserable old men in his later roles.