I Was A Male War Bride – 1949
Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant are pushed together by circumstances as two members of the military occupation in Europe (she's American and he's French) following World War II, and though they fight, bicker and argue through a great deal of the story (usually in funny ways) they are also eyeing one another so it is no surprise when a romantic association becomes cemented into marriage. The challenge though is finding a way to get the two together for the marriage, as military regulations are keeping them too far apart and then Sheridan is ordered to exit Europe for the United States, and they've got to figure out a way to bring new husband Cary to the states, too.
Cary Grant was a specialist in male humiliation comedies and he's in perfect form here, regularly getting into a situation that would be a terrifying nightmare in "real life" but is the seed bed of a lot of humor in I Was A Male War Bride, some of it slapstick but a lot of the funny is derived from the slapshot dialogue between Sheridan and Grant. She's very good at observing events and laughing at them, which is a not so subtle way of getting the audience to follow suit, though director Howard Hawks works the comedy in legitimate ways and with good effect, and most of it is carried on Grant's portrayal of a French officer suffering and then suffering some more.
There's probably not a funnier film made (or possible) about this sort of situation set in the wreckage (often seen on screen) of a bombed-out Germany following the end of the war. While I Was A Male War Bride is also a military comedy with the requisite jabs at military regulations, inefficiency and illogic, it takes for granted a kind of grudging admiration for the gigantic scope of the operation that was picking up the pieces in the end after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Sheridan and Grant sail through this scenery of ruin and Hawks puts them into the center of the screen in that evergreen comedy plot of a romantic entanglement between two dramatically different and conflicting personalities.
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Original page September 2022