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DREAM WIFE (director/writer: Sidney Sheldon; screenwriter: Herbert Baker/Alfred Lewis Levitt/based on a story by Levitt; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: George White; music: Conrad Salinger; cast: Cary Grant (Clemson Reade), Deborah Kerr (Priscilla Effie” Effington), Walter Pidgeon (Walter McBride), Betta St. John (Tarji), Eduard Franz (Khan), Buddy Baer (Vizier), Bruce Bennett(Charlie),Les Tremayne (Ken Landwell), Dan Tobin (Hotel Manager); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dore Shary; MGM; 1953)
“Flat sex farce.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sidney Sheldon (“The Buster Keaton Story”)directs his debut film, but shows no talent for directing. It’s a flat sex farce, using the battle-of-the-sexes theme. The film was a bomb and Sheldon only directed one more film. Star Cary Grant has no chemistry with the director (refused to listen to him) or with either love interest,Deborah Kerr or Betta St. John, and seemed lost in his own world. It’s cowritten by Sheldon, Herbert Baker and Alfred Lewis Levitt.What goes for comedy is when a Middle-East princess visiting NYC says she put money in a machine and wins a pie, and Cary tells her that’s the Automat. The jokes are that bad. The romance part is even worse.

Wealthyold-fashioned American businessman Clemson Reade (Cary Grant) is engaged to State Department official Effie (Deborah Kerr). But when Clem returns from a successful business trip to the mythical country of Bukistan, his Effie is too busy with the oil crisis to pay attention to him. The couple call off the wedding, as Clem realizes he wants a full-time wife. Clem recalls the comely princess he met on his visit to Bukistan, who is trained to serve only her husband (the wife walks 3 feet behind her husband) and sends a cablegram to Prince Khan (Eduard Franz), who accepts for his daughter, Princess Tarji (Betta St. John), Clem’s proposal and has his daughter visit NYC. The State Department uses Clem to possibly make an oil deal with Bukistan and thereby end the oil crisis, and Effie’s boss (Walter Pidgeon) sends her over to the princess’ hotel to translate and keep an eye on Clem.

Things get neatly wrapped up by the end in an unimaginative predictable way. Clem rediscovers his love for Effie and decides to break off his engagement with Tarji, who learns from her visit to America that she wants to choose for herself who she marries and breaks off the engagement first. The Khan can live with the marriage going down the tubes and willingly signs the oil agreement, thereby ending the oil crisis. This comes after the Khan gets to know Effie and sees how much she loves both Clem and her country.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”