My Favorite Wife

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My Favorite Wife
My Favorite Wife poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Garson Kanin
James Anderson (assistant)
Produced by Leo McCarey
Written by Leo McCarey
Samuel and Bella Spewack
Garson Kanin
John McClain
Starring Irene Dunne
Cary Grant
Randolph Scott
Gail Patrick
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Rudolph Maté
Edited by Robert Wise
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • May 17, 1940 (1940-05-17)
Running time
88 minutes
Language English
Budget $921,000[1]
Box office $2,057,000[1]

My Favorite Wife (released in the U.K. as My Favourite Wife) is a 1940 screwball comedy produced and co-written by Leo McCarey and directed by Garson Kanin. The picture stars Irene Dunne as a woman who returns to her husband and children after being shipwrecked on a tropical island for several years, and Cary Grant as her husband. The story is an adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Enoch Arden"; in tribute, the main characters' last name is Arden. The supporting cast features Gail Patrick as the woman Grant's character has just married when his actual wife abruptly turns up and Randolph Scott as the man with whom his wife had been trapped on the island.


After seven years, lawyer Nick Arden (Cary Grant) has his wife Ellen (Irene Dunne), missing since her ship was lost, declared legally dead so he can marry Bianca (Gail Patrick). It turns out however that Ellen was merely shipwrecked on a deserted island, and has been rescued. When she returns home, she learns that Nick has just left on his honeymoon with his second wife.

When Ellen tracks him down before his honeymoon night, he is at a loss as to how to break the news to Bianca. He keeps putting off the unpleasant business. Meanwhile, Bianca becomes frustrated by Nick's odd behavior (especially the non-consummation of their marriage) and calls in a psychiatrist, Dr. Kohlmar (Pedro de Cordoba). Further complications ensue when an insurance adjuster (Hugh O'Connell) mentions to Nick a rumor that Ellen was not alone on the island, but had the company of a Stephen Burkett (Randolph Scott) and that they called each other "Adam" and "Eve". When Nick confronts Ellen, she recruits a mousy shoe salesman (an uncredited Chester Clute) to pretend to be Stephen, but Nick has already tracked down the real, appallingly virile and handsome Stephen (Randolph Scott).

Nick tries to explain the situation to Bianca and a psychiatrist she has asked to help her, Dr. Kohlmar, but they do not believe him ... until he is arrested on a charge of bigamy. In court, Judge Bryson (Granville Bates), the same judge who had Ellen declared legally dead and also married Nick and Bianca, annuls the second marriage. By this time, Ellen is no longer sure of Nick's feelings for her. Stephen asks her to marry him and return with him to the island, but she still loves Nick. In the end, Nick and Ellen are reconciled.



No one in the cast, crew or director's chair noticed the gaffe in the screenplay: Ellen couldn't get into size 4 shoes at the shoe store, and yet she had worn some of her old shoes to get there, which were size 4. She had also worn some of her old shoes to previously go to Yosemite to track down her husband. Had she known they didn't fit, and had borrowed some of her mother-in-law's shoes, the conversation about not wearing size 4 shoes with the shoe salesman would not have taken place.

The film was a big hit and made a profit of $505,000.[1]


The film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Story, Best Score and Best Art Direction by Van Nest Polglase and Mark-Lee Kirk.[2]


20th Century Fox began filming a 1962 remake starring Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, and Cyd Charisse under the working title of Something's Got to Give, which was to be directed by George Cukor. There were problems from the beginning, mostly due to Monroe's failure to show up on time for work. Monroe was fired and Martin backed out when the studio attempted to recast Monroe's role with Lee Remick. Following Monroe's death in August 1962, Doris Day and James Garner were cast, and the new version, extremely faithful to the old one, was released by Fox as Move Over, Darling (1963). A recreation of surviving footage cobbled from the unfinished Something's Got to Give exists, along with some scenes reshot with Remick.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, "RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951", Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14, No 1, 1994. p. 55
  2. ^ "NY Times: My Favorite Wife". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 

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