This bright and amusing remake of 1940’s My Favourite Wife was chosen as the Royal Performance film for it’s year of release.
James Garner appears before judge Edgar Buchanan to ask that his wife be declared officially dead after having been missing for five years following a plane crash. This done, Garner immediately marries his fiancée Polly Bergen and they set off for their honeymoon. But, unknown to Garner, his wife Doris Day is very much alive and had just been rescued by the US Navy from the desert island where she has spent the last five years. She arrives home on the morning of the wedding and is upset when her children Pami Lee and Leslie Farrell do not recognise her. Her mother-in-law Thelma Ritter tells her what has happened and Day heads for the resort hotel in Monterey where Garner is honeymooning in order to surprise him.
Garner fakes a back injury and hurries home with Bergen. Day takes a plane and arrives there first, posing as Garner’s masseuse. But while Garner still loves Day, he cannot find the courage to tell Bergen what has happened. And then he learns Day was not alone on her desert island but was stranded with a man. Platonically, of course. But Garner still wants to know all about the situation and she tells him the man was a wimp. Unfortunately, when Garner visits Day’s former island companion, he discovers he is six foot six inch tall Chuck Connors… and comic complications enjoyably escalate before Garner and Day are matrimonially reunited.
George Cukor had started filming a previous remake of the 1940 Cary Grant/ Irene Dunne My Favourite Wife in 1962, with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, as Something’s Got to Give: the film was never completed. 20th Century-Fox cancelled it because of Monroe’s continuous lateness and she died in 1962. When the project was revived, the Something’s Got to Give screenplay was smartly reworked by Hal Kanter and Jack Sher as a perfect vehicle for Day who scored strongly in her tailor-made role. Garner, with his engagingly wry charm and laid-back persona, made an ideal co-star.
USA / 103 minutes / 1963
Writers:Hal Kanter, Jack Sher, based on the story by Bella and Samuel Spewack,
James Garner as Nicholas Arden
Doris Day as Ellen Wagstaff Arden
Polly Bergen as Bianca Steele
Thelma Ritter as Grace Arden
Fred Clark as Mr. Codd (Hotel Manager)
John Astin as Clyde Prokey
Pat Harrington, Jr. as District Attorney
Alvy Moore as Room Service Waiter
Pami Lee as Jenny Arden
Leslie Farrell as Didi Arden
Chuck Connors as Stephen ‘Adam’ Burkett
Bess Flowers as Seymour’s Wife (uncredited)
Michael Romanoff as Floorwalker (uncredited)
Alan Sues as Court Clerk (uncredited)
Max Showalter as Hotel Desk Clerk
Edgar Buchanan as Judge Bryson
Don Knotts as Shoe clerk
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