Merry Wives of Reno (1934)

Frank and Madge Hammond (Donald Woods and Margaret Lindsay, respectively) have been married for one year and couldn’t be happier together.  However, all of that comes to an end on the day of their first anniversary.  Madge had made a special dinner that night, but then Frank has to go see Bunny Fitch (Glenda Farrell) about selling her a boat.  But when he gets to her apartment, he quickly realizes she’s not interested in a boat, it’s him she’s interested in. And with her husband Colonel J. Kingsley Fitch (Hugh Herbert) out of town, she’s looking for some company.

While Frank is trying to fight off Bunny’s advances, Tom Fraser (Guy Kibbee) comes by to see Bunny and Frank ends up sneaking out down the fire escape, leaving behind his new coat, an anniversary present from Madge.  What Frank doesn’t realize is that Tom is actually his neighbor.  Tom and his wife Lois (Ruth Donnelly) aren’t nearly as happily married as Frank and Madge and Lois is well aware of his womanizing, heavy-drinking tendencies.  But then Colonel Fitch comes home unexpectedly early and Tom also ends up leaving through the fire escape, also leaving his coat behind.  When the Colonel asks about the extra coats, Bunny tries to make him think they’re his.

When Madge asks Frank where his coat is, he says he gave it to a homeless person.  Madge is skeptical, but when she goes to the salon and overhears Bunny telling the real story, she decides then and there that she wants a divorce and gets on the train to Reno. It just so happens that Lois, Bunny, and the Colonel are all on the same train and Tom and Frank aren’t far behind them. Once everyone makes it to Reno, the states of each of their marriages are constantly up in the air.  But when Bunny realizes that she’s responsible for all of their heartaches, she comes up with a scheme to set everything right again.

If you love extremely fast-paced screwball comedies, Merry Wives of Reno should be right up your alley.  This is the kind of movie that I had to watch twice to fully catch everything. But this is a movie I didn’t want to tear myself away from for more than a few seconds at a time because it’s an absolute riot.  Not only is it hilarious, but the cast is perfect.  Guy Kibbee was hilarious in it and who doesn’t love a wise-cracking Glenda Farrell?  It’s too bad more people don’t seem to know about Merry Wives of Reno (as of writing this, it only has 4 reviews on IMDB and doesn’t have a Wikipedia page), because it’s a real gem.  Keep an eye out for this one because you’ll be in for 64 minutes of total fun.

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3 comments

  1. I caught this when it aired on TCM several months ago and loved it. Like you, though, I really think it needs a second viewing to catch everything; I know I missed some of the lines, especially (if I remember correctly) in the scene at the train station.

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