Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

In Barbara Stanwyck's filmography, "The Bride Wore Boots" stands as the last comedy in the career of an actress whose comic talent brought us among others "The Mad Miss Manton", "The Lady Eve" and "Ball of Fire". While uneven and competent for most of is duration, it ends being no more than a footnote. It also suffers from a good ten year delay; in 1937 was called "The Awful Truth" and in 1940 "My Favorite Wife" and in both occasions starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. So you've guessed - a married couple gets divorced and... you know the rest.

The film isn't bad, it's just not good either. Barbara Stanwyck's energy and Robert Cummings' charm manage to keep it afloat most of the time. But even they fail occasionally. She is too clumsy in the scenes where she's ruthless towards her husband, often being too aggressive and exploding quite quickly. Patrick Knowles as the second banana is limited by the script to a caricature. However, the biggest disappoint with the film was Diana Lynn. When I saw the opening credits I was quite excited with her third billing. The know-it-all sister in Wilder's "The Major and the Minor" and in Sturges' "The Miracle of Morgan Creek", it's evident here that she was being groomed by Paramount for something bigger - the second female lead. The problem is that her part failed her and she comes up so unsympathetic and irritating that makes Gail Patrick in "My Favourite Wife" someone you want as your best friend.

On the plus side, I quite like the way they showed the children being manipulated by Stanwyck's character to make her ex-husband's life pure hell. The opening sequence is brilliant telling you all you needed to know about all those involved. The whole subplot with the horse is quite well done, albeit a bit saccharine. And best of all, Peggy Wood as Stanwyck's mother, one of those know-it-all characters that dished sarcasm so well (reminding me of Lynn's work in the aforementioned films).

All in all, there's no genius in this. It'll make you laugh and occasionally cringe. Oh, and keep an eye for a very young Natalie Wood as the little girl.

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