Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)

I was inspired to pull out a video I recently recorded of BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE after reading a brief post at Classic Ramblings, and the movie did not disappoint. It was a giddy, amusing film directed by Ernst Lubitsch from a screenplay by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.

The plot is on the strange side: multimillionaire Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper), who is visiting Europe, wants to marry Nicole Loiselle (Claudette Colbert), but she is disconcerted -- to say the least -- when she learns that Brandon has been married seven (!) times previously. She is reluctant to risk her heart on Michael, but then there is the problem that her father (Edward Everett Horton) is flat broke, and Michael says he will pay her $100,000 a year if he divorces her so...

The idea of Gary Cooper as a much-married millionaire was hard to buy, definitely casting against type, but overall the film is quite entertaining and has many funny moments. One of the best-known scenes is Cooper and Colbert's "cute meet" as they each try to buy half a set of pajamas. David Niven, as Brandon's hapless employee, has some of the best lines and comes close to stealing the movie. And as an added bonus, after viewing the film, you may be able to spell Czechoslavakia backwards!

The cast also includes Elizabeth Patterson, Franklin Pangborn, Herman Bing, and Warren Hymer. Claudette Colbert's beautiful gowns are by Travis Banton. The film runs 85 minutes and was filmed in black and white. Fair warning, there are some pretty awful back projections, particularly in some French Riviera swimming scenes, but as is sometimes the case in older movies, they add to the film's charm in a goofy sort of way.

BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE has been released on video. It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be seen here.

November 2009 Update: This movie is part of the new Claudette Colbert DVD Collection.

Update: This movie is now also available as a single-title DVD in the Universal Vault Series.

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