My Life with Caroline (1941) Poster

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A George Burns Moment
bkoganbing4 August 2011
My Life With Caroline had as its origins a play called The Parisian Life by Louis Verneuil and Georges Barr which did not do well on Broadway in its American debut. Still Ronald Colman and producer partner William Hawks saw something in it to make it the second of a two picture deal with RKO. The other film was Lucky Partners.

Colman was not happy with either film though he felt My Life With Caroline decidedly worse. If ever a film called for the Lubitsch touch My Life With Caroline is it. In his hands rather than Lewis Milestone's the film might have made it as a comedy.

The Citadel Film Series book The Films Of Ronald Colman says that leading lady Anna Lee acts a whole lot like Gracie Allen. If so than Colman has a George Burns moment at the beginning of the film. Gilbert Roland fresh from the Pampas has flipped for Lee and wants to take her back to Argentina, husband or not. Then Colman arrives on the scene and like Burns did regularly on his television show, Colman proceeds to break the fourth wall and tell Roland will not be the first or last to fall for wife Caroline, the girl just can't help it and Colman can't help but to put up with it. And as illustration Colman tells us about her last little flirtation with Reginald Gardiner and how that all ended up.

The debonair Ronald Colman is up to the task of carrying My Life With Caroline and he does bear the burden admirably. The problem is comedy should not be a burden.
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Ronald Coleman
garyneese-118 April 2007
The wonderfully urbane Ronald Coleman is show-cased here as in few other of his films. He is literally in every scene and this comical movie remains fresh because of him, not in spite of him. He is handsome, witty and very clever here as he remains a step ahead of his wandering, lovely wife--played perfectly by Anna Lee. The movie is based on a french play and brings all the best qualities of that farce. Most of the supporting cast is well known, at least by face if not name...and are absolutely perfect for this very funny film. The fantastic Mr. Coleman is a combination of Sean Connery and Clark Gable as he stays a step ahead of the other characters. His multi-talents can be further appreciated in the classic "Lost Horizon" which every film buff must see.
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Simply delightful
klg1922 March 2005
This almost unknown gem was based on a French farce--which shows, and I mean that as a compliment.

Caroline (Lee) is being courted by a wealthy Argentinian (Roland), who asks her father for her hand in marriage. But Caroline is already married to Anthony (Colman), who has just arrived by plane and launches immediately into an audience-directed reminiscence about the last time Caroline decided she was in love with someone else: a dilettante-ish sculptor (Gardiner). The film plays out the story of Anthony's strategy in uncoupling Caroline from her sculptor, and how that experience aids him with her Argentinian.

It is perfectly cast: Ronald Colman is at his most sophisticated and charming, Reginald Gardiner is at his most priggish, Gilbert Roland is at his most exotic, and Anna Lee is just deliciously whimsical. The film is wonderfully directed by Lewis Milestone (who also produced); the whole production feels like a labor of love. There are wonderful touches, such as Colman breaking frame and addressing the camera, and exceptional use of a sliding bar-cabinet door. It is a sin that it hasn't been released on DVD--this is the kind of film that can singlehandedly awaken interest in classic film.
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cute comedy that could have been better
blanche-24 August 2011
Ronald Colman tells the audience about "My Life with Caroline" in this very light 1941 comedy that also stars Anna Lee and Reginald Gardner. The lovely Lee plays Caroline, the dizzy wife of Antony Mason (Colman). Apparently when Antony is away on business, Caroline becomes lonely, takes up with someone else, and plans to leave Antony, which she doesn't. The film starts with the very handsome Gilbert Roland planning to take Caroline as his bride and bring her back to Argentina. Caroline's father (Charles Winninger) reminds Roland that Caroline's husband might have something to say.

Turns out, Antony is already on the scene and, facing the camera, tells us about an early incident, this time involving Caroline and Reginald Gardner, and the subtle ways in which Antony managed to put a spanner in the works.

Very nice comedy with potential for more laughs in the hands of another director. Lewis Milestone directed, and this wasn't really his métier. It was great to see beautiful Anna Lee as a young woman - I knew her basically as Lila Quartermaine in General Hospital as an elderly woman. Colman is wonderful, and Gardner is appropriately pompous.

Good cast, but it needed a different kind of touch.
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This film is salvaged strictly because of Colman's effortless and wonderful performance
MartinHafer19 April 2007
With a few exceptions (such as THE STORY OF MANKIND), Ronald Colman could have appeared in almost any film and made it worth watching. His smooth and apparently effortless performances made many mediocre films (such as this one) well worth seeing. As usual, he's THE reason to see this movie.

MY LIFE WITH CAROLINE has a pretty shallow and impossible to believe plot. His wife is an apparently brainless idiot (Anna Lee) and falls in love at the drop of a hat with other men who pay attention to her. He husband, Colman, is either completely cold and indifferent to her (leaving her alone for months at a time) or he is an ardent manipulator and suitor--a strange combination to say the least. None of this really makes sense and the characters seem....dumb. However, even though the plot is mindless, if you suspend belief you CAN find a fun and enjoyable film underneath it all. But, if you want your films to make sense or have some semblance of realism, then this one is best skipped.
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Hysterically Funny!
just_tere11 October 2001
This is absolutely my all time favorite movie. I saw it first on AMC, and taped it the next time it was on. I watch it at least 2x a year.

Anna Lee is just perfect in this role. Watch her roll her own cigarettes! Ronald Colman is dreamy and his dry humor is just over the top. Caroline's father is rather droll -- we don't HAVE fathers like this anymore. The end of the movie, when Caroline has not yet decided not to leave drags a bit, and is a bit forced for these days (we just don't understand train travel!) but is funny nonetheless. I know this has only been given a 6.5 star rating, but this is a 10 star movie in MY book!
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Colman one of my favorites, but...
vincentlynch-moonoi4 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Sometime ago I gave this film a rather negative review and a rating of "6", and I indicated it pained me to do so because Ronald Colman is one of my very favorite actors. I just finished watching it again, and I've changed my mind a bit, and I'm upgrading my rating to a "7".

I'm not sure than anyone other than Colman (and perhaps Cary Grant) could have made this film, because it took a rather urbane persona to make it work. But, Colman turns on that suave charm for which he was so famous. And that voice! It's the best thing about the film.

I guess the main problem I had with this film is Colman's costar -- Anna Lee. Her acting is "okay", but...well, let's put it this way...I'm not surprised she ended up playing in a soap opera on daytime television many years later. The bigger question here is, why would Colman's character (the husband) be attracted to and want to keep such a ditz as his wife? I can't imagine.

Charles Winninger, as the father, is quite good here, although he had better screen roles. I have to admit that one actor I don't usually care for -- Reginald Garidner -- does rather nicely here.

The first half of the film is better. The second half gets to be too much of a talky-parlour comedy. It just sort of goes flat, and seems rather smug as it does so.

As much a Colman fan as I am, this film of his isn't on my DVD shelf. It's sufficient to watch it on rare occasions on TCM.
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st-shot31 August 2011
Abysmal Anna Lee and charmless Ronald Colman fail to summon enough vitality to get this sour screwball going from the outset in this laxly directed effort by Lewis Milestone. Lee is wide eyed gullible most of the way while Colman a smug understanding bore in this comedy romance that has neither.

Constantly on the road successful businessman Anthony Mason (Colman) has a wife with a wandering eye (Lee). Prone to falling in love while hubby is away a tolerant Mason employs an understanding that usually brings her back to earth and restores the marriage. This time it is a Latin lover but the nonchalant Mason seems far from threatened.

The limited Lee brings nothing but wide eyed confusion to the inane role of Caroline who seems to have the emotional maturity of a twelve year old. She seems committed to only her romantic delusions and completely out of touch with her fellow characters. Colman for his part looks distracted and uninvolved, his interplay with Lee patronizing more than intimate. The supporting cast offers none with a smarmy Reggie Gardner and a wheezing Charles Winninger unable to bring sly humor to surly character.
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A Classic
Pinky-423 August 2004
This is truly one from the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, the kind they do not make anymore. It is an unique, fun movie that keeps you guessing what is going to happen next.

All the actors are perfectly cast and they are all great supporting actors. This is the first movie I saw with Ronald Colman in it and I have been a fan of his ever since. Reginald Gardiner has always been a favorite supporting actor of mine and adds a certain quality to every movie he is in. While he played a different kind of character here, he still added something to the movie that another actor cast in this character would not have added.
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Get in the spirit and enjoy!
ThousandsOfFilms29 July 2017
I thought that the posted average rating was somewhat low for this film so I reviewed the reviews. This is one of those films where many love it and many pan it. Anna Lee is great in her admittedly light role yet she's picked on presumably because one has not liked the film and Anna was not a well known star like Colman - she was well cast and did the role as it should be played. Almost all reviewers acknowledged that Colman was great. One critic complained that he could not see Colman's character falling in love with Lee's character - fair enough observation but irrelevant for a comedy - think of George Burns and Gracie (airhead) Allen - those inconsistencies are the comic devices that almost all comedies rely on. I thought it was very amusing except for the ending. For some reason, the writers thought they had to end with a plot twist that added no comedy whatsoever (any laugh after the twist was independent of the twist) and quite confusing. Perhaps the unfortunate choice of twist for the last few minutes of the film threw others off as well and one's impression of a film is often disproportionately affected by the ending. It was an entertaining 1930s-1940s-ish comedic farce, but if you don't like that style, you may not like it.
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A superior drawing room comedy.
guydesapio2 January 2020
I had been led to believe for years that this was an inferior movie. It is a lesson to not take seriously reviews, professional or otherwise. This movie sparkles with glamour and wit. An all-star cast headed by the ever-charming Ronald Colman with strong performances by Anna Lee, Reginald Gardiner, Charles Winninger, and Gilbert Roland. The type of movie I'd like to see at least once a year.
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Despite faults, well worth seeing!
JohnHowardReid12 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This film is a re-make of Le Train pour Venise (1938), directed by André Berthomieu, starring playwright Louis Verneuil himself in the Colman part, and Huguette Duflos as Caroline.

COMMENT: As a generalization, much as I enjoy his thrillers, Lewis Milestone has never impressed me as a skillful, let alone a masterful, comedy director.

Admittedly, in this entry he is served neither by a particularly witty nor effervescent screenplay, nor a halfway plausible performance by Hollywood debut-making Anna Lee.

Nonetheless, it's impossible to keep an inventive film-maker down. Despite the movie's dull patches, it still emerges as reasonably worthwhile entertainment, thanks to a number of ingenious Milestone appetizers, including post-synching dialogue with Colman's narration, Our Town-reminiscent comment into the camera, the Remisoff (the film's art director) in-joke, and the fish-kissing finale.

Another asset is the picture's expensive forties-studio look, complete with strikingly large sets and glossy photography.
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