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Starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne at their brightest and best, MY FAVORITE WIFE ($20) is indeed a great comic gem (screwball or otherwise) from the golden age of Hollywood. MY FAVORITE WIFE builds one hilarious moment on top of another, via a scenario that could only spring from the mind of a writer. The film opens with attorney Nick Arden (Grant) bringing a motion before the court to have his wife, who was lost at sea seven years ago, declared legally dead. No sooner does the court grant Nick’s request does he marry his fiancée Bianca (Gail Patrick).

Of course, this would be the day that the recently rescued Ellen Arden (Dunne) returns home to learn that her husband is now off on his honeymoon. Discovering Nick’s whereabouts, Ellen sets off to inform her husband that she is very much alive. As you might expect, Nick is still in love with Ellen and is delighted to learn that she is still alive- however, he just doesn’t seem to have enough nerve to inform his new bride Bianca of the unforeseen complication to their recent nuptials. If Bianca wasn’t a big enough comic obstacle to prevent Ellen and Nick from returning to wedded bliss, there is also the issue of a handsome gentleman named Burkett (Randolph Scott), with whom Ellen spent seven years alone on a deserted island. The cast of MY FAVORITE WIFE also features Ann Shoemaker, Scotty Beckett, Mary Lou Harrington, Donald MacBride, Hugh O'Connell, Granville Bates and Pedro de Cordoba.

Warner Home Video has made MY FAVORITE WIFE available on DVD in a truly fine looking black and white transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. The image appears pretty sharp and nicely defined- generally outclassing any home presentation that has preceded it. There is the occasional shot that appears soft, and there is a tendency in Hollywood glamour cinematography of the period to apply diffusion lenses on some of the leading lady’s close-ups, but otherwise, it all looks great for a sixty-plus year old film. Blacks appear inky, while the whites are completely stable. Contrast is very smooth, plus the grayscale is nicely varied. The film elements used for the transfer are in relatively good shape for a vintage film that hasn’t undergone any form of major restoration. There are some blemishes and mild scratches, but nothing that would distract one from their enjoyment of this classic comedy. Additionally, there is a noticeable grain structure for much of the proceedings, but it isn’t excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

For this release, MY FAVORITE WIFE comes with a very solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality at normal listening levels. Fidelity is a bit truncated, but the music gets by without any appreciable distortions. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks are provided, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included on the DVD.  Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. The 1950 Screen Director's Playhouse radio production of MY FAVORITE WIFE featuring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne is provided on the DVD, as is a the comic short Home Movies that features Robert Benchley. Filling out the extras is a theatrical trailer MY FAVORITE WIFE.

.MY FAVORITE WIFE is an absolute comic gem that has been given a truly fine presentation on DVD by the folks at Warner Home Video. If you are a movie buff, fan of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, or just love to laugh, then MY FAVORITE WIFE is a DVD you will want to check acquire. Recommended.



My Favorite Wife (1940)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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