Guest Wife (1945)
Screwball comedy Queen, Claudette Colbert, once again gives us her best side as she reteams with her co-star Don Ameche from the hilarious 1939 movie Midnight. Though this Sam Wood directed effort can’t equal that classic gem of the genre, it shouldn’t be overlooked delivering plenty of chuckles as Colbert winds up “married” to her hubby’s best pal Ameche.
Colbert and her husband played by Richard (Dick) Foran are about to embark on a second honeymoon as Dick takes time off from his job at the small town bank where they live. Colbert goes into a panic when a telegraph arrives from Ameche. While she’s never met Ameche just yet, she knows her hubby is always getting him out of scrapes sending money whenever needed to Ameche’s world traveling journalist.
The eventual Mortimer Duke of Trading Places will arrive just before the married couple set off for the train station with a head of steam and explain his dilemma to Dick. It seems that he’s carried on a ruse with his editor from afar. Ameche has invented a wife that has traveled the world with him and saved him from near death. Now he’s being called back to New York to except an Award for his work and is expected to bring “her” with him. The problem is there is only one “her” he can use and that’s Colbert. It seems he forwarded a picture of Colbert to the editor that Dick had sent to him.
Big hearted Foran says “no problem we’ll all head to the big city and you can borrow her for the evening and then she and I can go on to our second honeymoon.” Sounds simple enough but Colbert knows she’s in for trouble immediately when there are no train tickets left and Dick has to stay back to catch the next one while his wife and best buddy set out on their own.
Fast forward to Don and Claudette arriving at the magazine headquarters. It’s a media frenzy with lightbulbs flashing leading to the supposedly married couple’s picture splashed across newspapers coast to coast. Foran hasn’t even caught his train yet and he’s being called into the bank about his wife while his integrity is being called into question.
Once Dick gets to the big city, Colbert and Ameche are the toast of the clubs and the house detective around the hotel where they’re staying isn’t taking a liking to Mr. Foran sneaking around the hallways looking for his wife. Even Ameche’s editor, Charles Dingle, begins to suspect that Foran is Colbert’s lover and sets out to bar him from any activities he has planned for her and Ameche while they’re in town on his dime,
Slapstick and plenty of sexual innuendo’s lie ahead before this script from John D. Klorer (Good Sam) comes to a close. Very carefully I should add considering we’re still under “the Code” at this point in Hollywood history. Bruce Manning also had a hand in the screenplay and would also write Ameche’s next film, So Goes My Love, released in 1946. I’m not sure why but Dick Foran was billed here as Richard. I’ve only seen him listed as Dick so was this a situation like Larry becoming Laurence Fishburne or Charlie becoming Charles Sheen? Laurence stuck, Charles didn’t and from what I can tell, Richard Foran disappeared and Dick Foran quickly reappeared.
Starting out in the silent era, director Sam Wood was on a roll by the time the 1940’s had arrived. He’d helmed Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Raffles to end the thirties and would team with Gary Cooper for a trio of successful titles and one not that turned out less so. They are in order, Pride of the Yankees, For Who the Bell Tolls, Casanova Brown and the misstep, Saratoga Trunk.
Thankfully there’s still a market for releasing lesser known titles like Guest Wife. It’s available from Olive Films on blu ray which is the only reason that I got around to seeing this enjoyable addition to the list of Claudette Colbert/Don Ameche titles.