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EX-MRS. BRADFORD, THE (director: Stephen R. Roberts; screenwriters: story by James Edward Grant/Anthony Veiller; cinematographer: Roy Hunt; editor: Arthur Roberts; music: Roy Webb; cast: William Powell (Dr. Lawrence Bradford), Jean Arthur (Paula Bradford), James Gleason (Inspector Corrigan), Eric Blore (Stokes, Bradford’s Butler), Robert Armstrong (Nick Martel, bookie), Lila Lee (Miss Prentiss, Bradford’s Receptionist), Grant Mitchell (John Summers, Luxury’s Owner), Erin O’Brien-Moore (Mrs. Summers), Ralph Morgan (Leroy Hutchins, Warcloud’s Owner), Lucile Gleason (Mrs. Hutchins), Frank M. Thomas (Mike North, Luxury’s trainer), Frankie Darro (Spike Salisbury), Frank Reicher (Henry Strand, Summers’ Lawyer), Charles Richman (Mr. Curtis, Turf Club President), John Sheehan (Bert ‘Murphy’ Murph, Private Eye), Paul Fix (Lou Pender); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; RKO Pictures; 1936)
“It was mildly amusing, but it’s not the kind of film you want to bet on as a winner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A comedy/mystery story along the lines of the Thin Man series, but just a tad short of the mark in the comedy department. RKO borrowed William Powell from MGM and Jean Arthur from Columbia, fresh off her hit in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Writers James Edward Grant and Anthony Veiller present a clever but far-fetched mystery story, while Stephen R. Roberts does an adequate job directing.

The film opens to screaming newspaper headlines that the jockey aboard the favorite Luxury died of a heart attack allowing War Cloud to win. Mrs. Paula Bradford (Jean Arthur), a mystery writer and the ditsy ex-wife of urbane surgeon Dr. Lawrence Bradford (William Powell), arrives in Lawrence’s penthouse apartment and serves him with a subpoena for nonpayment of alimony. When she suspects that the jockey was murdered and it’s confirmed by the visit of the horse’s trainer Mike North, who lays on the Doc a threatening note he found on the jockey, Paula moves back in and enlists the reluctant Doc in helping her solve the case. The next day North sends Lawrence a package containing $25,000 he supposedly won betting on War Cloud.

At first Inspector Corrigan believes Lawrence is the guilty party when he finds the unexplained dead body of North by the Doc’s door. But the murder story becomes complicated as it involves several suspicious characters that include bookie Nick Martel and his girlfriend Miss Prentiss, Lawrence’s receptionist; the owner of Luxury, Mr. Summers, whose wife is having an affair with Nick; the owners of War Cloud, Mr. and Mrs. Hutchins; and Hutchins’ lawyer Henry Strand. The Doc comes up with the method of murder, a black widow spider hidden in a gelatin capsule, but the motive for the crime baffles him. It concludes with all the suspects gathered together in Bradford’s penthouse, where he shows them on film who is the murderer. Working together on the case brings the couple together for another round of marriage.

It was mildly amusing, but it’s not the kind of film you want to bet on as a winner.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”