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Third Finger, Left Hand

(1940 b 96')

En: 6 Ed: 6

An executive pretends to be married to ward off men but meets an artist, who discovers her ruse and appears as her missing husband.

Margot Sherwood (Myrna Loy) runs a fashion magazine but invented a husband in Rio so that she could keep her position by having photographer August Winkel (Felix Bressart) write her letters. Her legal advisor Philip Booth (Lee Bowman) is frustrated by her missing husband, but she agrees to have dinner with him. Margot goes to a ship and mistakes paintings for those of a friend. The artist Jeff Thompson (Melvyn Douglas) misses his chance to get the expert Flandrin (Donald Meek) to represent his art. So Jeff makes her go to Flandrin to explain, and she bids him up into a much better deal for Jeff such that he gets $5,000 and only has to pay 10% commission. Jeff wants to take her out to celebrate, but she only has time for a chocolate malt.

Margot goes home and finds her date is canceled. She calls Jeff, and he calls her back. They go out to celebrate and go to a carnival. Drunk Hughie Wheeler (Sidney Blackmer) sees Margot and mentions her husband. Jeff is disappointed and angry she did not tell him. He questions her about him. His cables inform him that the story she told is false, because the husband Merrick was never in Rio.

Jeff calls on Margot at the home of her parents in the country and tells her father (Raymond Wallburn) and younger sister (Bonita Granville) that he is Merrick. Newspapers report that her husband has returned. She makes Jeff sleep out on the balcony during a windstorm, and he catches a cold. Jeff tells her that she cannot divorce him if she is not married; so she decides to marry Jeff so that she can divorce him. Her lawyer Philip agrees to the strategy and plans to accompany her to Reno so that he can marry her after the divorce.

Margot and Jeff are wed by a judge, who gives an inspirational speech. They visit Niagara Falls, and Jeff meets people he knows from his town in Ohio. Margot puts on a Brooklyn accent and acts very low class, embarrassing Jeff. Because she is a woman of means, Philip suggests she make a property settlement agreement with Jeff, and they decide to do so on his train to Ohio. Jeff gets the black porter Sam (Ernest Whitman) to pretend to be his lawyer, exasperating Philip. Jeff manages to say goodnight to Margot; but in the morning his home town greets him and his bride, as Margot wired them he was married.

This subtle comedy starts with her device to avoid sexual harassment at work so that she can maintain a career; but ironically he catches her in her own trap until they both finally realize they have met their match.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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