Dream Wife

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Dream Wife
DreamWife .jpg
Video cover
Directed bySidney Sheldon
Produced byDore Schary
Written byHerbert Baker (screenplay)
Alfred Lewis Levitt
Sidney Sheldon
StarringCary Grant
Deborah Kerr
Walter Pidgeon
Betta St. John
Eduard Franz
Music byConrad Salinger
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited byGeorge White
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
1953 (1953)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,885,000[1]

Dream Wife is a 1953 romantic comedy film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

It was directed by Sidney Sheldon and produced by Dore Schary, from a screenplay by Herbert Baker, Alfred Lewis Levitt and Sidney Sheldon. The music score was by Conrad Salinger, the cinematography by Milton R. Krasner and the art direction by Daniel B. Cathcart and Cedric Gibbons. The costume design by Herschel McCoy and Helen Rose received an Oscar nomination. The film's secondary stars included Walter Pidgeon and Betta St. John, with supporting performances by Eduard Franz, Buddy Baer, Richard Anderson, Dan Tobin, Dean Miller, and Movita.

The character of Princess Tarji was resurrected in one episode of Sheldon's I Dream of Jeannie, titled "This Is Murder" (4/9/66), portrayed by Gila Golan. Shortly after the release of this film, Cary Grant went into a self-imposed retirement from acting, turning down many film offers such as Sabrina, in which he would have co-starred with Audrey Hepburn and A Star Is Born with Judy Garland. In 1955, director Alfred Hitchcock persuaded Grant to return to films with To Catch a Thief.

Plot summary[edit]

Businessman Clemson Reade (Cary Grant) breaks his engagement with workaholic U.S. diplomat girlfriend Effie (Deborah Kerr) for an adoring "old-fashioned" girl from the fictional country of Bukistan, Princess Tarji (Betta St. John). Reade wants a wife who can "just find having babies and taking care of a man" pleasurable.

While Reade tries to get closer to his fiance Effie, who has been assigned by the state department to see that the marriage does not disturb a major oil deal with Bukistan, ends up educating the princess about Western ideas of the role of a wife and women's emancipation, while simultaneously moderating some of her own ideas about making the happiness of her "man" (i.e., Grant) a primary concern. Reade's courtship of the princess, which he attempts to conduct by American customs, must be adjusted to Bukistanian tradition to protect the proposed oil deal.

Effie explains to him that the marriage, called "hufi", is followed by a prolonged period of celebration called "bruchah".[clarification needed] These terms are borrowed for comedic effect from the Jewish terms "huppah"—the canopy beneath which the marriage ceremony takes place (thus the ceremony sometimes is called "hupah") and "Sheva 'bruchis' or 'sheva brachot'" - 7 blessings ("bruchah" means "blessing", in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) that are recited as part of both the ceremony and a week-long celebration that follows.[clarification needed]

Effie teaches Tarji the English language through books about important American feminists. Tarji embraces these lessons, choosing to wear American clothes and going for a walk through the city on her own, attracting the attention of multiple men. Because of the language barrier, they mistake Tarji's friendliness for romantic intent, and several of them arrive at her apartment at the same time. A fight between them and Reade ensues, with Tarji's becoming imprisoned. Outraged, her father travels to the United States with the intent of negating his daughter's engagement. However, Effie charms Tarji's father into reconsidering, much to Reade's dismay. Tarji speaks with Reade, telling him that she no longer feels obliged to marry him because she does not love him. Reade, realizing his feelings for Effie, is overjoyed.

Tarji's father summons her and lectures her sternly; despite the earlier agreement she has reached with Reade, where she promised him she would not come to their wedding, she arrives to her wedding with Reade, who is aghast. He attempts to rebuke her for abandoning her newfound feminist ideals, and ultimately succeeds in provoking her into stopping the marriage. Her father is outraged, but Effie slyly congratulates him, pointing out that he would not let a man like Reade ruin the oil deal he had with the United States, even though he was a scoundrel. Tarji's father agrees to uphold the treaty despite the wedding's not going through; however, he tells Effie that he realizes she must love Reade very much, implying he understood her true motives all along. The wedding is cancelled, and Reade and Effie kiss.



According to MGM records the film earned $1,213,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $672,000 elsewhere meaning it resulted in a loss of $456,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study

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