Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Day-Time Wife (1939)

DAY-TIME WIFE is a sparkling '30s marital comedy starring two of the most gorgeous stars to ever grace Hollywood, Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell.

Jane (Darnell) suspects Ken (Power), her husband of two years, is two-timing her with his secretary Kitty (Wendy Barrie). Jane gets a job with an architect, Barney (Warren William), to find out what the life of a secretary is really like and figure out how to win back her husband's affections. Matters come to a head when Ken negotiates a business deal with Barney and realizes Jane hasn't been waiting for him at home each day...

It's a silly premise -- and more than a bit unbelievable, as we never really do understand what could drive Ken to look at anyone other than sweet, gorgeous Jane -- but if you love the stars and '30s comedies, it's terrific, fast-paced fun, clocking in at 72 minutes. The stars are beautiful, the film is amusing, and as an added bonus the set designs are absolutely spectacular. My favorite set was a seaside restaurant with a clear aquarium in the window that made it look as though the fish were swimming on top of the sea beyond the window.

This was the first of Power and Darnell's four films together. Darnell, physically mature beyond her years, was only 15 when she filmed DAY-TIME WIFE. According to the outstanding Darnell biography HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY by Ronald L. Davis, the film was completed on Darnell's 16th birthday. Darnell once said, "I would be kissing Tyrone Power and the school teacher would come and tell me it was time for my history lesson. I never before or since have been so embarrassed." Power understandably viewed Darnell as almost a child at this point, despite the fact she was playing his wife; according to another book I recently read, he was very helpful to Darnell and when she blew repeated takes due to being nervous, he would muff lines himself and claim it was his fault so that she wouldn't be blamed by the director and crew.

Power and Darnell would go on to make BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940), THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940), and BLOOD AND SAND (1941). All are available on DVD.

The supporting cast of DAY-TIME WIFE includes Binnie Barnes, Joan Davis, and Leonid Kinsky. The movie was directed by Gregory Ratoff, who was also a writer and actor; he played Max Fabian in 1950's ALL ABOUT EVE.

DAY-TIME WIFE is available on DVD as part of the 10-film Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection.

Films in the Power DVD set previously reviewed here are LOVE IS NEWS (1937), SECOND HONEYMOON (1937), and I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU (1951). This is an absolutely marvelous set. There may not be a four-star classic in the bunch, but the collection is filled with entertaining movies made with the polished craftsmanship typical of the studio era.

It's something of a miracle to me that a relatively little-known movie like DAY-TIME WIFE, which I last saw hacked up with TV commercials at least 20 years ago, is now available in a sparkling print on DVD. This is a great time to be a fan of classic movies.


Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

Fifteen?! Wow.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

It kind of boggles the mind, especially as she looks, acts, and sounds 5-7 years older.

Best wishes,

8:34 AM  

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