Guest Wife (1945): Comedy w/ Don Ameche & Claudette Colbert

A couple's second honeymoon to New York picks up an unwanted addition when the husband's best friend drops into their lives.

Guest Wife (1945) would mark the second of three films in which Don Ameche and Claudette Colbert would star together. The others are Midnight (1939) and Sleep, My Love (1948), both of which find the two actors paired as love interests. Here, Ameche is the best friend, Joe, abusing the hospitality of Colbert's character Mary and her husband Chris, played by Dick Foran.

Ameche and Colbert still spend the bulk of the movie together as Joe has - for career expediency- convinced his employer and everyone else, that he's married to Mary. Why Mary and Chris go along with the charade is anyone's guess. (The New York Times calls Chris a "curiously generous spouse," which is an apt description.)

The rest of the film is a comic cautionary tale of the tangled web of deception. This is what the screenwriters, Bruce Manning and John Klorer, call a "kibble." You must love 1940's movie slang, whether fabricated or actually popular in society.

Even the advertising copy picks up the term and pastes it on the posters. "Kibbling," the poster above reads, "is romantic hocus-pocus by an experienced perculator (sic)." Sometimes mid-twentieth century movies use completely nonsensical combinations of terms to create innuendo and excitement.  But -Oh!- doesn't this sweet mamma jamma sound up on the downbeat? When she's cool she really sizzles, ya dig? Hmm?

The musical score, by Daniele Amfitheatrof, is mercifully sparing, allowing the comedy to stand on its own or fall flat on its face. The score is most frequently used near the end when Mary plays her own trick or two on the guys. You'll hear it in its most lavish iteration under the credits. With its upbeat, jazzy horns and drums, the score is very much a part of its time. It almost sounds like the score of a Tom and Jerry short. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Amfitheatrof's work.

Guest Wife is a tangled marital farce that you've seen before that asks the audience to dig down deep and suspend disbelief for 90 minutes. However, it's still worth a look.

Further Resources

Download for later or listen now to the Lux Radio Theater production of  
Guest Wife (with Don Ameche, Dick Foran and Olivia DeHavilland from December 10, 1945):
(Flash player required) (Duration: approximately 60 minutes)

Download for later or listen now to the Screen Guild Production of     
Guest Wife (with Claudette Colbert, Fred MacMurray and Dick Foran from May 20, 1946):    (Flash player required) (Duration: approximately 30 minutes)


Post a Comment

Thanks for your contribution to Java's Journey.


About Java

"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email:


Blog Archive

Writer's Block Doesn't Stand a Chance