June Cameron (Loretta Young) is the "bachelor girl" author of a bestseller titled SPINSTERS AREN'T SPINACH. Timothy Sterling (Ray Milland) is a doctor whose attitude toward women might charitably be called patronizing. In THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE, a series of misunderstandings leads to this odd couple being mistaken for newlyweds, a charade Tim and June soon find they must keep alive indefinitely. This being a screwball comedy, you can guess how the story ends...
THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE is buoyed by a witty script with lots of great one-liners, delivered with panache by the leads and a terrific supporting cast: Edmund Gwenn, Gail Patrick, and Reginald Gardiner. Patrick, who usually plays icy sophisticates, is cast against type in this film as Milland's simpering, baby-talking fiancee. Milland scampering in and out of apartment windows, trying to deal with his "wife" and company in one apartment and his fiancee next door, is a classic screwball moment.
More familiar faces are scattered throughout the movie, including the late, great Charles Lane as a reporter -- this was one of 23 movies Lane was in which were released in 1940. Edgar Buchanan, Olin Howland, Irving Bacon, Mary Gordon, and Walter Sande are some of the other character actors who appear in unbilled parts.
THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE was directed by Alexander Hall, who the following year directed Young in the very amusing BEDTIME STORY, reviewed here last January. Hall's other movies include comedy classics HERE COMES MR. JORDAN and MY SISTER EILEEN.
The movie runs 89 minutes and was shot in black and white.
THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE can be seen on cable on TCM. It has been released on video. It is not on DVD; vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release. Surely there should be a Loretta Young DVD collection one day!
Loretta Young fans might enjoy visiting the official tribute site authorized by Loretta's family.
THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE is just what the doctor ordered for a relaxing Friday evening after a long, busy week. :) Recommended.
August 2009 Update: THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE is now available on DVD as part of the Icons of Screwball Comedy, Volume 2.