Too Many Husbands recently aired on TCM. Robert Osborne introduced the film. In his introduction Osborne stated that the film came out the same year as My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The film did well even thought the Grant/Dunne film came out months before. The plot of Too Many Husbands is basically the same plot as My Favorite Wife only it is about a woman who married a man only to find out her first husband who she thought was dead is actually alive instead of the man marrying another woman and finding out his wife is still alive. The only difference is while My Favorite Wife is easy and enjoyable to sit through Too Many Husbands becomes tedious the moment the wife finds out her first husband is still alive.
The opening scene of the film show Harry Lowndes (Melvyn Douglas) dictating a letter to have his former partner’s name taken off the company title. His former partner, Bill Cardew (Fred MacMurray), died the previous year. Harry’s secretary comments that Vicky, his wife, will not like the fact that Bill’s name is being taken off the title. Vicky (Jean Arthur) was married to Bill when he died and she is now married to Harry. Vicky comes into the office and the secretary was right, Vicky is not happy about Bill’s name being removed. Harry has no time to speak to her about it he has to go to an important meeting.
The next scene shows Bill sitting in a barber shop getting his wild hair and beard taken care of. Apparently he survived when his ship went down. Bill calls to his old house looking for Vicky. Her father picks up the phone. The poor man almost dies of shock when he hears Bill’s voice. Bill asks his former father-in-law to tell Vicky to pick him up at the airport. The father relays the message to his daughter. She freaks out she does not want to tell Bill that she is remarried especially because she does not know how. Vicky tells Henry what is going on and the man passes out. Once he gets out of his shock Vicky wants him to be the one to tell Bill about them being married. Henry refuses Vicky should be the one to say something. They both go to the airport to get Bill. Bill is the happiest man when he sees his wife. He starts hugging her and kissing her as if he had been away for two weeks instead of year. He never gives Vicky a chance to say what she needs to say about her and Henry. She goes around the issue saying that Henry is living in the house with his wife and Bill does not get that meaning. Finally Vicky just blurts out she and Henry are married. Bill is obviously furious.
After the reveal the film just goes downhill. It becomes silly and annoying rather than silly and enjoyable. Henry and Bill fight over for Vicky in the most ridiculous of ways. She puts off picking which husband she wants to be with because she likes their attention since neither ever gave her so much. What I could not stand the most in this film was the ending it did not end it was awful.
Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, and Melvyn Douglas are great actors. I felt it was a shame to see them in this film with this material. Their characters were annoying. I really hated seeing Melvyn Douglas beg for a woman like a little boy vying for the cute girl’s attention when he was this fantastic sweet talker and charmer with Greta Garbo in Ninotchka. Jean Arthur the films I have seen her in she has been this smart funny determined modern woman. Here is was acting like a pain in the ass spoiled woman. Fred MacMurray is a good actor but he has yet to impress me. Needless to say he did not to impress me in this. Harry Davenport as Vicky’s father gets a ton of credit. He will always be Dr. Meade from Gone With the Wind to me. He was really funny in his scenes especially at the beginning when he gets the call from Bill.
Too Many Husbands had some potential because the three leads are great actors. The story and the characters just fell completely flat. I was annoyed so much with the characters. I understand that sometimes characters can be silly but there is a fine line between being just right and being ridiculous. With My Favorite Wife it is obvious that Cary Grant really loves Irene Dunne he never plays games with her and she has a reason to fight for him. In Too Many Husbands Vicky does not seem to care about either one of her husbands and I have no clue why they even stuck around her they had nothing to fight for (maybe they did and I just missed it). I do hate to compare the two films but they are so similar it is hard not to. I only suggest watching Too Many Husbands if you are a fan of either Jean Arthur, Melvyn Douglas, or Fred MacMurray other than those three skip it.