Acteurism: Joel McCrea in "He Married His Wife"

  • MUBI
With such a definitive and spoiler-happy title as “He Married His Wife” (even with pronouns lending a level of mystery), plot quickly becomes unimportant. Even the contemporary micro-genre this 1940 film fills, the comedy of remarriage, immediately announces T.H. Randall’s (Joel McCrea) eventual reunion with estranged wife Valerie (Nancy Kelly). In order for the couple to come together, both actors must switch between clown and straight-man acts at screwball pace using the supporting cast as colorful props.This outline worked well for Howard Hawks’s Bringing Up Baby (1938) two years earlier, but that had the remarkable advantage of both Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, both known for versatility in anything their studio would throw at them. Conversely, 20th Century Fox put director Roy Del Ruth to the task of He Married His Wife as a workman director capable of identifying the strengths of a trending narrative style for economic opportunity.
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