Famous as the Golden Year of Golden Age Hollywood, 1939 also had it’s share of stinkers. Few stinkier than this brutally misconceived cuckold comedy that finds best pals Robert Taylor & Lew Ayres flipping Greer Garson as if she were housing property. Actually, she was property, property of M-G-M; hence this rush job after GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS made her an instant star at the alarming age of 35. Journeyman comedy specialist Norman Z. McLeod co-wrote & megged so give him most of the blame*, but Robert Taylor deserves credit for making an already unlikable character a positive paragon of self-centered upperclass entitlement. Lew Ayres does what he can as a slightly soused third-wheel, but Garson murders every line with her fluted tones and oddly unflattering look. (The fluted tones remained; the look triumphantly revised.) Perhaps nobody on the lot was second-guessing the dailies since producer, writers & director had turned out a big popular hit with TOPPER/’37, a Post-Mortem Screwball Comedy, of all things. Not this time. The film wraps with a bit of chemically induced amnesia. We should all be so lucky.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: While the set-up isn’t all that different from the Lubitsch/Hecht adaptation of Noël Coward’s DESIGN FOR LIVING/’33, that film's execution was far beyond the reach of these hack filmmakers. M-G-M was probably hoping for something along the lines of Joan Crawford in either LOVE ON THE RUN (w/ Gable & Franchot Tone) or THE BRIDE WORE RED/’37 (w/ Robert Young & Tone). Either way, they were aiming low.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Of course, the upside to being a journeyman comedy director like McLeod is that you’re apt to stay out of the way when you’ve got W. C. Fields or the Marx Bros.