Four Wives (1939)

A few months after the events of 1938′s Four Daughters, things are as lively as ever at the Lemp household.  All of Adam Lemp’s (Claude Rains) daughters all come back home to help out with his spring cleaning, but they all have other things on their mind.  Emma (Gale Page) thinks she might be expecting her first child and Ann (Priscilla Lane) is now engaged to Felix (Jeffrey Lynn), who has just returned from a concert tour.  However, the mood changes when Emma finds out she isn’t pregnant and will probably never have children.  Ann, on the other hand, is pregnant, but Felix isn’t the father — her recently deceased husband Mickey Borden (John Garfield, footage of him from Four Daughters is used in flashbacks) is.

Everyone thought Ann had moved on from Mickey, including Ann herself, but news of her pregnancy has stirred up a lot of feelings in Ann.  All she can do is think about Mickey and his music.  She can’t stop feeling guilty about the tragic nature of Mickey’s life.  Kay (Rosemary Lane) is worried about her sister and asks Doctor Clint Forrest, Jr. (Eddie Albert) to have dinner at the Lemps’ home that night so he can give Ann some advice.  Well, that and Kay wants to date Clint.  Clint’s best advice to Ann is to move on with her life and not let this tie her to the past.  She takes his advice to heart and decides to quietly elope with Felix.

Thea (Lola Lane) hosts a dinner party for the newlyweds, but also has some news of her own  — she will be adopting a baby!  Even though Ann wants to move on with her life, it’s really hard for her when Felix decides to finish an unfinished piece of music Mickey had written and she breaks down during the party.  The ghost of Mickey continues to come between Ann and Felix, and they get into a big fight just before Felix is to leave on another tour.  Just as he’s about to leave, Ann goes to the train station to stop him, but not only does she miss his train, she starts to go into premature labor.

Four Daughters was one of my favorite discoveries during last year’s Blogging Under the Stars, so naturally, I was very eager to see Four Wives this year.  Four Wives wasn’t quite as good as Four Daughters, but it is a pretty decent sequel nonetheless.  Claude Rains was still perfect as the Lemp family patriarch, but Priscilla Lane proves to be the strongest link in Four Wives.  I’ve really been becoming a big fan of Priscilla Lane lately and her performance here makes me think she is very underrated as an actress.  The strength of her performance really carried the movie through a sometimes-weak screenplay.  Ann’s storyline is pretty compelling, but the subplot about Thea’s adoption process was completely ridiculous and pushed my ability to suspend disbelief to its breaking point.  Plus it is a bit heavy-handed on the sentiment.  But, even for its faults, I still really enjoyed the movie and I’m looking forward to seeing the other sequel Four Mothers sometime.  It’s a really enjoyable film series, I’m not sure why it isn’t better remembered today.

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One response to “Four Wives (1939)

  1. Four Wives might be my favorite of the trilogy. I agree with your assessment of Priscilla Lane’s performance!

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