Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Bride By Mistake (1944)

BRIDE BY MISTAKE is an overlooked little romantic comedy gem. Norah (Laraine Day) is a never-photographed, billiards-loving, Santa Barbara ship-building heiress ("500 ships a month!") who is wary of fortune hunters and sends her best friend and secretary Sylvia (Marsha Hunt) to impersonate her at public events. Sylvia, however, is a newlywed whose husband (Allyn Joslyn) is anxious for the charade to end so Sylvia can accompany him to Washington, D.C., where he will be a Persian translator for President Roosevelt. Throw into the mix a captain (Alan Marshal) stationed nearby who would like to marry a rich woman -- but only if he really loves her -- and you have the recipe for some bubbly good fun.

The great Edgar Buchanan appears as Nora's exasperated guardian, while Slim Summerville plays the caretaker of her beach house who is mystified by the romantic goings-on.

The bright screenplay is by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, parents of Nora Ephron (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE). The story comes from Norman Krasna's script for the 1934 film THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD, which starred Joel McCrea and Miriam Hopkins. (Krasna also wrote the screenplays for BACHELOR MOTHER, THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES, and WHITE CHRISTMAS, among other classics.) Intriguingly, in the original film the title character's name was Dorothy, while the other lead characters' names remained the same in the remake. Is the character Norah of BRIDE BY MISTAKE named for the Ephrons' daughter Nora?

BRIDE BY MISTAKE is 81 minutes long and was shot in black and white. It was directed by Richard Wallace.

This movie is not available on VHS or DVD, but is part of the Turner Classic Movies library.

Update: Here's a review of the original version, THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934).

February 2011 Update: Good news for fans of this delightful movie: it's just been released on DVD-R by the Warner Archive.


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