Thursday, August 19, 2010

Film Review: I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

Ann Sheridan must dress her husband (Cary Grant) as
a woman in order to get him to America.
Haven't you always wanted to see the handsomest man in the world dress in drag? You haven't? Well, too bad! Because if you watch this movie, you're going to see it anyway. Famed director Howard Hawks takes on this post-war comedy based on a true story and staring Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan. The title pretty much tells the plot of the film: I Was a Male War Bride

French Captain Henri Rochard (Cary Grant) and U.S. Lieutenant Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan) have worked on a number of missions together recovering art treasures stolen by the Nazis from the Louvre and undermining underground efforts. Ironically, though, they cannot stand each other, but in the usual manner of romantic comedies, they end up falling in love after some madcap capers. Unfortunately, for members of the U.S. Army the course of true love doesn't often run smooth when they want to marry foreigners. For the next hour we are treated to a biting portrait of military bureaucracy at its finest, first with trying to arrange a wedding, and then when Catherine's unit is ordered back to America, with trying to get Henri a visa. The only they can get him into the country is through a loophole in the War Bride Act, which says it applies to "alien spouses" but doesn't specify gender.

Of course the bureaucracy can't seem to wrap their minds around the fact that the alien spouse in question is a man, and it holds them up at every step of the process. Finally the sailors on the boat to America refuse to believe the story, so Henri must dress up as a woman to get on board--with hilarious results.

Cary Grant really carries this film more than anything else. His character has a snarky sense of humor and a temper that can't put up with all the absurdities to which he is subjected. Enough has been said about Grant's considerable comedic talents. I'll only add that he never fails to disappoint, and that his extreme good looks only augment the humor of the awkward situations in which he finds himself.

I give this movie a 7.5, a thoroughly enjoyable comedy.

Buy it now:
I Was a Male War Bride

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