Dream Wife (1953)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  

USA, 1953.  .  Screenplay by , , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , Cedric GibbonsCostume Design by , Helen Rose.  Film Editing by .  

The burgeoning issue of women in the workplace is dealt with clumsily in this concept comedy that puts Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant on screen together for the first time. He plays a business tycoon who has just returned from the fictional land of Bukistan where he is helping facilitate an oil deal, deciding that he can no longer put up with his loving fiancée, a diplomat (Kerr) who keeps prioritizing work above their elegant dinners. They break up and he announces that he’d rather be married to a woman who has nothing but domesticity on her mind, opting to marry the Bukistani princess he met while abroad, a beautiful young woman whose traditional father has trained her to be a glorified servant to her future husband. The girl’s arrival in America is a matter to be overseen by the state department, as it could endanger the oil situation if anything goes awry, so Kerr is assigned to oversee the girl’s acclimatizing herself to American life and, as she speaks Bukistani and Grant does not, she also finds herself acting as chaperone on their dates. Given that the bride-to-be plans to make Grant wait months to marry her, in accordance with her cultural traditions, and the fact that he’s constantly coming up with ways to slip into her room, the likelihood of things going wrong is high. Our charming hero has his desires put to the test when he spends more time with the princess and eventually finds himself wondering if a pretty trophy wife really is that much more desirable than the competent and busy sparring partner he had in his ex-fiancee. It sounds offensive but it’s merely dated, kept from being misogynist garbage by the fact that Grant can never be hateful and comes off more sheltered than chauvinist, while Kerr as always manages to be classy and sexual at the same time. Its real flaw is that screenwriter Sidney Sheldon (who also directs) runs out of things to do with these three before his sitcom-worthy twist ending, and a great deal of it is dull to sit through.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Costume Design-BW

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