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HER HUSBAND’S AFFAIRS (director: S. Sylvan Simon; screenwriters: Ben Hecht/Charles Lederer; cinematographer: Charles Lawton, Jr.; editor: Al Clark; music: George Duning; cast: Lucille Ball (Margaret Weldon), Franchot Tone (William Weldon), Edward Everett Horton (J.B. Cruikshank), Mikhail Rasumny (Prof. Emil Glinka), Gene Lockhart (Peter Winterbottom), Nana Bryant (Mrs. Winterbottom), Jonathan Hale (Gov. Fox), Larry Parks (Himself); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Raphael Hakim; Columbia; 1947)
“Most jokes seem forced.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Pleasant screwball domestic comedy about the advertising world, that plays as a forerunner of the television “I Love Lucy” series. But in this film Lucy’s schemes work instead of backfiring as they do on the TV show. S. Sylvan Simon (“Grand Central Murder”/”Lust for Gold “/”The Fuller Brush Man”) keeps things amiable by mildly poking fun at hucksters, get-rich-quick schemers and public image conscious politicos. Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer turn in the nonsensical sitcom screenplay, that barely makes sense but at least sprinkles some tepid laughs throughout–though most jokes seem forced. The film was not a box-office success.

Struggling ad executive Bill Weldon (Franchot Tone) and his meddling wife Margaret (Lucille Ball) have put off their honeymoon for a year because his marketing schemes keep failing. He now aims to win a $5,000 bonus to snag the Tappel hat account and comes up with a slogan for the straw hat: “You’ll never know you’re wearing one, but other people do.” The hat man likes the slogan but also wants a famous person to endorse the hat, as the deal isn’t completed until Margaret sneakily puts the hat on the mayor at a ballgame and he doesn’t notice it. A picture of him wearing the hat gets in the newspapers and his surprising quote of Bill’s slogan also is reported, which adds up to an endorsement and gets the advertiser to sign on with Bill’s ad agency. But the jealous Bill is upset that his wife gets credit from the boss J.B. Cruikshank (Edward Everett Horton) for pulling off the deal, as he then acts like a jerk by berating his wife for her interference and demands respect and approval from her above all else.

Crackpot inventor Professor Emil Glinka (Mikhail Rasumny), Bill’s partner he sponsors, is in the process of inventing a new embalming fluid that turns the dead into glass mummies. He gives the couple a honeymoon present for their boat voyage to Bermuda of a magic cream made from the not completed embalming fluid formula. This product removes a beard by just rubbing it on one’s face. After a demo on a window washer and latter that night on celebrities that include Larry Parks, the couple hook up with their boss to sell the product to razor manufacturer Winterbottom (Gene Lockhart) and dream of becoming millionaires. Only the bubble is burst the next day, as the product grows back the unwanted hair. When Winterbottom angrily calls for Bill’s arrest as a charlatan, Margaret saves the day by suggesting that the cream be sold as a hair restorer for bald men. But as a hair restorer the formula proves to be a fiasco, as after the governor smears it on his bald spot his head turns to glass. When the governor orders the arrest of Glinka and Bill, it appears as if Bill killed Glinka while he was trying to escape and is put on trial for murder. Margaret tries to get her hubby to cop an insanity plea but he refuses and aspires to use the trial to sell a “forever flower,” a new product he’s sponsoring with Glinka. At the last minute Glinka appears to show he wasn’t murdered, as Bill shows the court he used the trial as a publicity stunt for the product. But in the end this product also fails, as the flower turned to stone to be forever soon wilts. An exasperated but free Bill gets back together with Margaret, but only after she promises no more meddling.

The film might have bombed, but the Lucy Show people tinkered with this formula and came up with a winning for the television show.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”