Randolph Scott

My Favorite Wife (1940)

My Favorite Wife

Seven years after being lost at sea, Nick Arden (Cary Grant) has his wife Ellen (Irene Dunne) legally declared dead and gets re-married to Bianca (Gail Patrick). Just as Nick and Bianca are heading off on their honeymoon together, Ellen arrives back at home. It turns out she had spent the past seven years stuck on a deserted island and finally been rescued. On the trip home, Ellen had time to mentally prepare herself for all the things she expected to change in her absence, but the one thing she hadn’t expected is that Nick may have re-married. When she hears where Nick and Bianca have left for their honeymoon, she goes to see find them.

Obviously, Nick is stunned to see his first wife waiting for him at the hotel. He doesn’t have a clue about how he should explain a situation like this to Bianca, so he does his best to hide it from her, which brings out some very odd behavior. Bianca is considering leaving Nick and wants to get him professional help. But then this situation gets even complicated when Nick gets a visit from an insurance adjuster who informs him that Ellen wasn’t alone on an island all that time, she was there with a man named Stephen Burkett (Randolph Scott).

Desperate to assure Nick that nothing happened between her and Stephen on the island, Ellen convinces a bland-looking shoe salesman to pose as Stephen and meet with Nick. However, Nick has already done his homework and knows the real Stephen is far more attractive. Just as Nick finally tries to tell Bianca the truth about what’s been going on, she doesn’t believe him until he is suddenly arrested for bigamy and the whole crazy incident gets dragged into a courtroom.

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne really deserve more credit for being a great on-screen duo. They may not have made as many movies as Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy or Myrna Loy and William Powell, but The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife alone are amazing enough for me to put them in that league. It might be easy to think of My Favorite Wife as not being particularly original since it went on to be re-made as Move Over, Darling (and almost re-made as Something’s Gotta Give with Marilyn Monroe, Cyd Charisse, and Dean Martin) and Too Many Husbands has a very similar plot, but My Favorite Wife manages to shine just a bit brighter than the others. While Too Many Husbands felt like a one-note movie that got old fast, My Favorite Wife never felt stale. Simply, it’s a fantastically madcap romantic comedy and that’s all it tries to be.

The Tall T (1957)

The Tall TWhile making a trip to buy a seed bull, cowboy Pat Brennan (Randolph Scott) loses a bet with his former employer and has to give up his horse.  Pat starts walking home and along the way, he’s passed by his friend Ed Rintoon (Arthur Hunnicutt), who is driving a stagecoach with newlyweds Doretta (Maureen O’Sullivan) and Willard Mims (John Hubbard) on board.  Ed offers to give Pat a lift, but when they arrive at a way station, a group of three men — Frank Usher (Richard Boone), Billy Jack (Skip Homeier), and Chink (Henry Silva) — holds them at gunpoint and tries to rob them.

Ed tries to reach for his gun, but is shot down.  Willard, who has only married Doretta for her money, tells the robbers that they could get more money by sending a ransom note to Doretta’s father than they could by robbing stagecoaches.  Frank writes a ransom note and sends Willard and Billy to deliver it while the others leave for the robbers’ camp.  Willard and Billy arrive at the camp the next day with news that Doretta’s father has agreed to pay a $50,000 ransom and Willard gets permission to leave camp, but is shot dead before he can get very far.

When Frank leaves to get the ransom from Doretta’s father, that leaves Billy and Chink to keep an eye on Pat and Doretta.  But luckily for Pat and Doretta, their captors are easily manipulated and Pat comes up with a plan to break free.

I quite enjoyed The Tall T.  Randolph Scott is fantastic in it and Budd Botticher’s direction is excellent.  It’s a fast paced story loaded with grit and suspense; there isn’t a single moment that left me looking at the clock wondering how much of the movie was left.  The Tall T is one of those westerns that makes it very easy for people who aren’t typically fans of westerns to enjoy it.  Definitely keep your eye out for this one on the TCM schedule.

Hot Saturday (1932)

Hot Saturday 1932 Cary Grant

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, I’m sure you know how wildly the gossip can fly sometimes.  As Ruth Brock (Nancy Carroll) is about to find out, Marysville is no exception.  Ruth is a flirtatious banker who enjoys going out dancing with the boys, but she’s never a bad girl.  All the guys in town are after her, including the rich playboy Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), widely thought to be the most dangerous guy in town.  Her mother would much rather see her settle down with her childhood friend Bill Fadden (Randolph Scott), who has just come back to town and is staying at the Brock’s house for the night.  Ruth couldn’t care less about what her mother wants and when Romer Sheffield has a party at his house one Saturday, she gladly goes with Conny (Edward Woods) as her date.  But once they get to the party, she spends some time alone with Romer.  Even though nothing happens, Conny becomes immensely jealous.  Later, Conny and Ruth go for a late-night boat ride and when Conny makes a move on her, she turns him down and walks back to Romer’s house.  She stays with Romer for a few hours before his chauffeur drives her home.

Ruth’s friend Eva sees her come home in his car and immediately assumes the most scandalous possibility.  Once Eva talks to Conny and finds out how long Ruth spent with Romer, rumors tear through Marysville like wildfire and destroy Ruth’s life.  People shun her, her mother is furious at her for disgracing the family, and she even loses her job at the bank.  Not knowing what else to do, she goes out to where Bill is working to see him.  He declares his love for her and they decide to get married ASAP.  Ruth’s family is happy, her friends are happy, and Ruth is happy again.  But when Bill finally hears about the vicious rumors going around about Ruth, they get into a big fight and Ruth heads back to Romer’s place and decides to live up to her reputation.  Bill comes to apologize the next day, but she decides to break it off with him.

I really enjoyed Hot Saturday.  Absolutely worth checking out.  It’s definitely a movie that’s aged pretty well.  Not only has gossip not gone anywhere in the past 78 years, but considering how stories keep turning up in the news about people losing their jobs over things they say in their blogs or on Facebook, I’d say it’s just as relevant as ever.  Nancy Carroll gave a great performance and gets a lot of help from a great supporting cast.  I was impressed by how much Cary Grant had improved since Blonde Venus, especially since he made Hot Saturday right after Blonde Venus.  He seemed much more confident here.  Either William A. Seiter gave him more direction than Josef von Sternberg did or Cary had done a lot of work coming into his own, I’m not sure which, but it was a step in the right direction.