I Was A Male War Bride

male war brideReleased: 1949
Director: Howard Hawks
Starring: Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan

Great fun in this battle of the sexes classic comedy


The easiest question in the world for me to answer is “Who is your favourite actor?” From the age of about six or seven the answer has been the same – Cary Grant. There are others I admire – James Stewart runs Grant a close second, Tom Hanks is always impressive, Paul Bettany adds a bit of class to every film he appears in even if the film is rubbish, and Harrison Ford is magnificently and grumpily charismatic. My parents brought me up on Cary Grant films such as Father Goose and Operation Petticoat and I love them all, despite some of the dodgy sexual politics.

There are still quite a few Cary Grant films that I haven’t seen yet and I do intend to work my through as many Grant films (both seen and unseen) as possible over the coming months. I’ve started with a film that was new to me, the 1949 Howard Hawks comedy I Was A Male War Bride.

Grant plays Captain Henri Rochard a French Army officer in post-war Germany, who is partnered with American Lieutenant Catherine Gates in an operation to seek out a black marketeer. Rochard and Gates bicker but, naturally, fall in love and marry. Unfortunately for our romantic duo the bureaucracy which governs the entry of US Army spouses into America doesn’t consider the possibility of a male spouse of a female officer. Henri and Catherine battle the system in an attempt to finally start their married life together.

This is great fun and the perfect Sunday afternoon classic. Grant is (as always) great fun, handsome and charismatic. He can convey so much comedy with a simple eye raise or half-mutter. Grant gamely endures a host of catastrophes from riding a motorbike into a haystack to having to dress a female American officer with a horse’s tail as a wig. The least said about his French/Belgian accent the better – in fact there is no accent, it’s just Cary Grant being Cary Grant. Ann Sheridan offers sparky support as Gates, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her in a film before but I was impressed. It’s not easy to be the co-star of someone who fills the screen with his presence but she manages this well.

This is another classic battle of the sexes comedy from the golden era of Hollywood in the same vein as Desk Set and His Girl Friday, it’s light fare and easy to watch. If you’re new to Cary Grant you could do a lot worse than start here but if, like me, you’re an old fan this will sit comfortably with you and reaffirm how great Cary Grant really was.

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  1. There may be little plot to speak of but the leads are both charming and fun. With such a subtle style Howard Hawks really could do it all…even get Cary Grant to play a Frenchman!
    Nice review!

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