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TOO MANY HUSBANDS and MY FAVORITE WIFE


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Both films, airing on TCM tonight, are based on the Enoch Arden theme.  In fact, Cary Grant's character in MY FAVORITE WIFE is named Nick Arden.  Here is more about the original story (condensed from wiki:):

 

The hero is a fisherman turned merchant sailor named Enoch Arden who leaves his wife and three children to go to sea with his old captain.  He has left his family to better serve them as a husband and father.

 

However during his voyage, Enoch Arden is shipwrecked on a desert island with two companions; both eventually die, leaving him alone there. This part of the story is reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Enoch Arden remains lost and missing for ten years.

 

He finds upon his return from the sea that, after his long absence, his wife, who believed him dead, is married happily to another man, his childhood friend, and has a child by him. Enoch's life remains unfulfilled, with one of his children now dead, and his wife and remaining children now being cared for by another man.

 

Enoch never reveals to his wife and children that he is really alive, as he loves her too much to spoil her new happiness. Enoch dies of a broken heart.

 

The story is considered a variation on Odysseus.

 

imgres25.jpg
 

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Has a film ever been produced which followed the original story? This sounds like one I would enjoy - a good heart-wrenching, make-you-think-about-it as you're leaving the theater kind of movie. I really get into those self-sacrificing scenarios.

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Has a film ever been produced which followed the original story? This sounds like one I would enjoy - a good heart-wrenching, make-you-think-about-it as you're leaving the theater kind of movie. I really get into those self-sacrificing scenarios.

There were a few silent versions, but not sure if those survive.  It was attempted as a drama in 1946, as TOMORROW IS FOREVER-- where Orson Welles is Claudette Colbert's presumed dead husband who comes back under a false name.  She has since become involved with George Brent.  

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Yeah, and ironically enough, in the "My Favorite Wife" version and with the genders swapped, it was Nick Arden's wife Ellen who becomes shipwrecked on a desert island with the Randolph Scott character Stephen Burkett, and who during their time together begins referring to his fellow inhabitant on said island as "Eve".

 

And thus of course making her...yeah, that's right...

 

 

 

 

 

arcadeCeleb-EveArden.jpg

 

(...sorry TB, couldn't resist) ;)

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Thanks, Richard.

 

Love Me Tender wouldn't qualify for me as I'd prefer the hero(?) to have lived and walked away with nothing but memories. This is a timeless story that I'm sure will continue to pop up as time goes on.

 

Yep, and so I'll bet "Coming Home" doesn't meet your criteria here either, huh. ;)

 

It wasn't exactly a real laugh-riot either, ya know.

 

(...though maybe this one wouldn't really qualify here, as Fonda doesn't marry Voight) 

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Yep, and so I'll bet "Coming Home" doesn't meet your criteria here either, huh. ;)

 

(...it wasn't exactly a real laugh-riot either, ya know) 

Well.. we don't actually see him die, but yeah.. in true Hollywood fashion, our imaginations are led down that well worn plot device of a path. So no. Coming Home wouldn't work for me either.

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Well.. we don't actually see him die, but yeah.. in true Hollywood fashion, our imaginations are led down that well worn plot device of a path. So no. Coming Home wouldn't work for me either.

 

Yep, Dern took the March/Crawford/Mason way out, alright.

 

(...don't think any of 'em ever made it to Hawaii!)

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:lol:

HA!

 

Ya know.. a little tweaking and Rambo: First Blood could fall right into this category. The soldier who loves his country deeply returns home expecting to be embraced in it's loving arms, so to speak. He is rebuffed and, in the end, must walk away - or be taken away in this case. He still cares deeply for his country but must turn away to find a new life in another world.

 

.. or sumthin' like that

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Both films, airing on TCM tonight, are based on the Enoch Arden theme. 

 

Arent't there about 4 or 5 versions of this film and theme? I think I saw one from the mid or early 30s. Then there's one from the 50s or 60s. And the short MM version.

 

Always in My Heart (1942) Walter Huston

 

Daughters Courageous (1939) Claude Rains

 

Tomorrow Is Forever is a 1946 Orson Welles

 

 

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During his introductory remarks, Robert Osborne just mentioned that the two films were released a few months apart.  I looked and found that TOO MANY HUSBANDS premiered on March 21, 1940, and MY FAVORITE WIFE originally hit screens on May 17, 1940.

 

I wonder which one ran longer in movie houses, and which one earned more money...?  I have a feeling the Cary Grant picture probably did better with audiences.

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I consider Too Many Husbands the funnier of the two.  While Douglas and MacMurray do a fine job, it is Jean Arthur who sparkles in this movie.  I also like how she dances off with both men at the end--and stunned that it got past the Board of Review.

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I consider Too Many Husbands the funnier of the two.  While Douglas and MacMurray do a fine job, it is Jean Arthur who sparkles in this movie.  A also like how she dances off with both men at the end--and stunned that it got past the Board of Review.

Good point.  I wonder about that, too.  It seems like the kind of ending Preston Sturges would have dreamed up!

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Interesting trivia about both films:

 

MY FAVORITE WIFE was nominated for an Oscar for best story, but TOO MANY HUSBANDS was not (and they use the same essential idea).

 

Columbia filmed two endings for TOO MANY HUSBANDS, not sure which husband audiences would prefer Jean Arthur to wind up with-- both endings were screened for college audiences.  

 

Fred MacMurray was borrowed from Paramount, and Melvyn Douglas' contract was shared by Columbia and MGM.  Interestingly, Cary Grant who appeared in the other film, had his contract shared by Columbia and RKO.  It sort of makes you wonder why Harry Cohn didn't just use Grant with Arthur and save on borrowing MacMurray.

 

MY FAVORITE WIFE, an RKO release, was remade by 20th Century Fox as MOVE OVER, DARLING. And TOO MANY HUSBANDS was remade by Columbia as a Technicolor musical called THREE FOR THE SHOW.

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Good point.  I wonder about that, too.  It seems like the kind of ending Preston Sturges would have dreamed up!

Didn't I hear somewhere it was he who was the one who said you could get away with anything as long as it was in a comedy?

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Didn't I hear somewhere it was he who was the one who said you could get away with anything as long as it was in a comedy?

Sounds like him (and it would seem to be a true statement).

 

Robert Osborne did go on to say that while both films were hits, MY FAVORITE WIFE was more successful, because Grant and Dunne were bigger stars.  They had previously costarred in another hit at RKO, THE AWFUL TRUTH.

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Two movies I frequently get mixed up by their endings are My Favorite Wife and The Awful Truth. Both have similar endings with the same actors in similar surroundings. Were I to just happen in on the end of either one, I would need to run them both through my mind for a minute or so and still may not get them right.

 

The whole of each up to their endings are very distinguishable - it's just the endings.

 

It's like two actors you always get mixed up. I do that with Paul Fix and Harry Carey.

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Two movies I frequently get mixed up by their endings are My Favorite Wife and The Awful Truth. Both have similar endings with the same actors in similar surroundings. Were I to just happen in on the end of either one, I would need to run them both through my mind for a minute or so and still may not get them right.

 

Perhaps that was done intentionally to capitalize on the popularity of The Awful Truth.

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Sounds like him (and it would seem to be a true statement).

 

Robert Osborne did go on to say that while both films were hits, MY FAVORITE WIFE was more successful, because Grant and Dunne were bigger stars.  They had previously costarred in another hit at RKO, THE AWFUL TRUTH.

 

Slight correction - The Awful Truth was a Columbia film.

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Slight correction - The Awful Truth was a Columbia film.

I watched the first part of TOO MANY HUSBANDS, and saying that MY FAVORITE WIFE was a bigger hit just  because Grant and Dunne were bigger stars is, to me, wrong. MY FAVORITE WIFE was a terrific film until it runs out of steam in the second half. TMH was very lame by comparison.

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MY FAVORITE WIFE was a terrific film until it runs out of steam in the second half. TMH was very lame by comparison.

I watched both of these last night.  Jean Arthur gives a mostly sparkling, but sometimes shrill, performance in TOO MANY HUSBANDS. I think it would have been even better with someone like Carole Lombard and with William Powell in the Melvyn Douglas role.  

 

One of the problems with TOO MANY HUSBANDS, compared to MY FAVORITE WIFE, is that it is a little too stage-bound, relying quite heavily on Maugham's play, which by this point was already a 20-year old chestnut.  

 

Also, the fact that they did not show any courtroom scenes leads me to believe that when Cohn agreed to let Grant do MY FAVORITE WIFE, he rushed TOO MANY HUSBANDS into production and made sure it avoided any courtroom bigamy scenes so it would not seem too similar.

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