I'm just going to warn you now. This isn't really a review of His Brother's Wife. Only, it is - but not. It ought to be titled, "In Defense [Not Really] of His Brother's Wife (1936)".
Thus sayeth the poster: "Aren't you thrilled, Bob? Our picture's a sensation at the box office!" "That goes without saying, Barbara. It's a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture."
If His Brother's Wife really was a box-office sensation in '36, it was so because Bob and Missy had just started dating and their fans wanted to see the lovebirds onscreen. I recently learned that Jean Harlow was supposed to play Barbara Stanwyck's part in this movie. While I don't dislike Jean Harlow, this movie would have for me (like the movie-goers of the 1930s) quite a bit less attraction. Why? Because, as you know, Bob and Missy are my favorite couple and seeing them in a movie together (no matter how bad the movie is) is heavenly.
As far as the actually movie goes, it's not the best. It's barely even good. It's hardly even decent. If you listened to the people who review on IMDb you'd think it was a movie from Hell - some of the review titles are as follow: "Physician, Heal This Movie" "Groan" "What a Load of Hooey" "Oh Boo" "Yes, It's Really as Bad as Everyone Says". Then there's "It's So Bad That It's Good!" which are my feelings exactly. The way I explain it is, "It's too good to be bad, too bad to be good, but I love it and I know why!"
The reviewers on IMDb and I, will go on to complain about a few things. For one, the script is problematic, and must have been written by someone who was either drunk [very drunk] or dying and playing one last great joke on the world of film. For an example of how bad it is, Bob Taylor at one point says, "It doesn't make the smallest, minutest, most infinitesimal difference!" [really, Bob?] and better than that Jean Hersholt says "Love...it puzzles me more than science." [this is not the good kind of corny].
Then there's the story, and it's awfully bad: Rita Wilson (Barbara Stanwyck) and Chris Claybourne (Robert Taylor), a scientist getting ready to leave for South America, spend Chris's last ten days together. They, inevitably, fall in love, but Chris's brother talks Chris out of marrying Rita and forces him to go to the jungles to do his research. Rita, broken-hearted and angry, marries Chris's brother to get revenge; but eventually ends up in the jungles with Chris. Then, when Rita injects herself with spotted fever, Chris is forced to test his new vaccine to try to save Rita. He does end up saving her life, and, now divorced from his brother, Rita is able to marry Chris.
*Laughing as I type this because I'm finally realizing how ridiculous this movie's plot is.*
|Not my GIF|
The acting isn't horrendous, but Bob didn't really start to improve until a few years later in his career (when he had spent more time around Stanwyck) and not even Stany's at her best here. In her defense, how could anyone be at their best in such a overly-dramatic, half-baked show as this?
But I still love it. I love it because Bob and Missy look so darned happy together. I love it because it's hysterically boring, absolutely ludicrous, and positively unwatchable (that is, it must be unwatchable for you sane folks, I don't even attempt to claim sanity). It's definitely a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt as I sit there grinning my head off [like an idiot] every time Missy and Bob on screen together. I am honestly unable to dislike this movie. Yes, it's horrible. Yes, I love it.
Until Later On~