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Cary Grant is Nick Arden, a man whose wife was believed to have drowned seven years earlier.  After having her officially declared dead, he marries Bianca Bates (Gail Patrick), but on the very day of their wedding, his former wife Ellen returns home and Nick realises that his wife didn’t die after all.  His old feelings for her are reawakened, but how can he tell Bianca that his wife has come back?  And how will Nick feel when he finds out that Ellen hasn’t been alone for the past years, but actually lived on an island with Steve Burkett (Randolph Scott)…?

This is exactly the type of screwball comedy that Cary Grant excelled at.  His facial expressions, double takes, and the way he mutters away to himself are hilarious.  Irene Dunne is also brilliant as the newly returned Ellen, and it’s not hard to see why she and Grant made three films together in total – their on-screen chemistry is brilliant, and they are both excellent leads.

I should also mention Granville Bates, who played the judge who married Nick and Bianca after declaring Ellen officially dead, and who has to subsequently sort out the entangled mess.  Although he played only a small part, Bates came dangerously close to stealing all of the scenes he was in.

The whole storyline is totally unbelievable and that’s probably the point.  But it gives rise to lots of giggles and laughter, and this is a thoroughly enjoyable film, with Cary Grant’s magic sprinkled all over it.  Highly recommended.

Year of release: 1940

Director: Garson Kanin

Writers: Bella Spewack, Sam Spewack, Leo McCarey, Garson Kanin, John McClain

Main cast: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott, Gail Patrick

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