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USA 1949
Directed by
Howard Hawks
105 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

I Was A Male War Bride

Although it was a box office hit in its day, unlike Hawks’ classic screwball comedies, Bringing Up Baby (1938)  and His Girl Friday (1940), I Was A Male War Bride has waned in popularity. Partly this is simply because it has dated, party it is because the main narrative structuring device of recurring deferral wears thin.

Loosely based on a true story by Henri Rochard and co-written by Hagar Wilde, Leonard Spigelgass and Charles Lederer, it tells story of Capt. Henri Rochard (Cary Grant), a French army officer stationed in Germany in the immediate post-war period and his relationship with American WAC lieutenant Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan).

In typical screwball fashion the pair start off needling each other, a sure sign of repressed sexual attraction. Grant, with not the vaguest attempt to play French, does his usual Cary Grant whilst Sheridan does a solid job as they banter their way on the rocky road to love.  The early part of the film which relies heavily on physical humour is passably diverting but once they admit the inevitable and decide to get married, and the battle with army red tape begins the film really bogs down.

Clearly in 1949 the digs at army bureaucracy and the idea of hapless Grant having to assume the identify of a "wife" in order to satisfy the pen pushers, were amusing but these days who is going to care? The film picks up briefly at its end with some amusing dialogue as Grant is forced to don female attire but for the most part it is purely for nostalgia buffs.




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