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Wife, Husband and Friend

(1939 b 80')

En: 6 Ed: 5


Adapted from James M. Cain's novel, a husband tries to stop his wife from becoming a singer but becomes one himself.

Major Blair (George Barbier) warns Leonard Borland (Warner Baxter) that his wife Doris Borland (Loretta Young) wants to sing. Leonard removes pianist Hugo (Cesar Romero) and Doris's mother Mrs. Blair (Helen Westley); but Doris says she wants to sing. Leonard says she is a lousy singer. At his contracting business Leonard and Mike Craig (Eugene Pallette) call people to sell tickets to Doris's concert. Doris tells Leonard to get a critic to come, but the dining critic refuses. Major tells Leonard he is making a mistake. Hugo plays piano as Doris sings, and people applaud. Doris tells Leonard she wants to go on. Cecil Carver (Binnie Barnes) calls Leonard and invites him to hear her opinion that Doris is mediocre. Cecil says she likes Leonard. She gets him to sing and says he has a great voice. Leonard asks Doris to travel. She is busy singing but is rejected. Doris suspects Leonard's cheerfulness. Major says Doris is plotting and urges Leonard to use his plan.

In Washington Cecil has Leonard sing after her, and people cheer. Leonard calls Doris and says good-night to Cecil. Leonard tours with Cecil singing. Leonard goes home and learns that Doris was booed. She tells him she is no good and that he was right. At Mrs. Blair's party for Doris, Cecil is invited, and Leonard says he doesn't know her. Leonard tells Cecil that Doris is cured; but Cecil doubts it. Doris realizes that Leonard traveled with Cecil but does not believe that Leonard sang. People laugh until Leonard sings. Leonard finds Doris, who slaps him and tells him to get out.

In a hotel bed Leonard learns his check is no good. He calls his secretary to bring $100. Rossi (J. Edward Bromberg) calls Leonard to sing opera for $500 a week. The secretary brings the money, and Leonard agrees to sing. Doris comes to hear Leonard sing with Cecil. Leonard feels sick and makes a mockery of the opera. Off-stage Cecil slaps Leonard as yellow, but Doris embraces him and says she loves him. Mike tells Leonard they can build a race-track in Miami. In the final scene the two couples take the train, and Mike stops his wife from singing.

A husband who resists his wife's career efforts and the attentions of another finds himself imitating her behavior to his own consternation.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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