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Lonely Wives Reviews

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gillianren
May 12, 2012
A Sex Comedy Where No One Has Sex

There will be spoilers here, because no one cares. I mean, seriously. This is a pre-Code sex comedy, as the description I read says. However, it is a pre-Code sex comedy starring Edward Everett Horton. No one wants to see that. If I had known that he was an object of attraction, I wouldn't have wanted to watch it myself. I assumed, when I saw his name listed, that he was the same sort of whimsical side character he would play in various romantic comedies through the years, even when it was implied that the character was gay. Your standard sissy, really. So now that I am telling you that three separate women are attracted to him and that there's a terrifying older woman who keeps up on his sex life with her daughter, you are not going to want to watch this movie. I really do approve of that decision of yours and wish I'd made it myself. It's too late for me; save yourself.

Richard Smith (Horton) is a defense attorney who's gotten a bit of a name for himself defending murderers. He lives with his wife (Esther Ralston) and mother-in-law (Maude Eburne). He has this thing where, starting at the stroke of eight, he goes girl-crazy. His wife, Madeline, has been gone for two months for a rest in the mountains. And for some reason, his new secretary, Kitty "Minty" Minter (Patsy Ruth Miller) is still on the clock at eight and doesn't even seem to be a little upset about it. She finds out about her employer's weird tendencies and decides to cash in on behalf of her best friend, Diane O'Dare (Laura La Plante), who is looking for a divorce. It turns out her husband is Felix, the Great Zero (Horton again), an impersonator who wants to add "Dickie" to his repertoire, because local defense attorneys are a big draw. They discover that they mysteriously look exactly alike, and Dickie decides to enlist Felix in a ruse to sneak out and see girls. Supposedly, hilarity ensues.

It isn't just that Edward Everett Horton was over fifty at the time. Don't get me wrong on this, either; I love him quite a lot. He's one of my favourite character actors, and it isn't just my life-long love of [i]Rocky & Bullwinkle[/i]. Sure, he only really did one thing, but he did it well. He seemed to enjoy it well enough, too. But the simple fact is, he was not a lover-boy type. He was never going to be. Okay, I can see his chasing women, and I can see his being the object of attraction for someone like the woman who hear plays his mother-in-law, but having three young women interested in sleeping with him? I'm not going there. He just wasn't made to play a romantic lead, even in a more serious movie. Okay, probably especially a more serious movie. But even if the plot had been a little easier to take seriously, and it wasn't, he was ridiculously miscast in the lead. I think he knew it, too; he certainly wasn't trying very hard.

Creepier still was the whole thing with his mother-in-law. As I said, she was the only one who was truly believable as being interested in him. Yes, Maude Eburne was eleven years older than Horton, but he was nearly twenty years older than his supposed wife. He also came across as older than he was. The deeply weird thing, though, was that she was so obsessed with being a grandmother that she was demanding details about their sex life. And expecting to get them. It was less weird then to have your mother-in-law move in with you when your wife did, I guess, but there are limits. I've been reading about the Roosevelts during World War II, and this woman may actually be more weird than Sara Roosevelt. Sure, Sara Roosevelt basically didn't want Franklin to get married at all, and Eleanor didn't even have an assigned seat at the dining room table, which I did as soon as I could sit on my own, but she wasn't doing a little dance at the prospect of grandchildren. At least, I hope not.

The problem here is that summer is coming, and there simply aren't a lot of thought-light movie options. I will continue to get whatever the library throws at me, and some of it will be more complicated than I'm equipped for. This is the case every summer, and every summer, I end up putting a couple of things on my Netflix queue simply because I wasn't able to get through them before they were overdue. If there wasn't a day under about 75, there's only so much subtitled existentialism that I'm equipped for. I've got a classic movie channel (read: Public Domain) on my Roku, and it doesn't have a lot of good stuff in the way of comedy. (A [i]lot[/i] of Three Stooges, if that's your kind of thing, but I hate them.) Netflix streaming isn't much better. I have run through most of the comedies we own. So I end up watching some pretty terrible movies simply because I didn't have to think to do it. I'm afraid to tell you that this is hardly the worst one to come over the course of the summer.
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