Tag Archives: rosalind russell

Looking Backward: Hired Wife (1940)

20 Jul

hired-wife2Rosalind Russell made Hired Wife the same year she made His Girl Friday, 1940. It’s solid, but it suffers when you think of it in those terms. Brian Aherne is grand but is not Cary Grant. And I just found myself pondering the sentence “Virginia Bruce is no Ralph Bellamy,” but it confused me, so I set it aside until I find another context in which to use it. Surely that will come down the pike soon enough.

The “Oopsie!” mishandled-paperwork annulment device is more effectively used in Mr. and Mrs. Smith – still a contrivance there, but it’s a premise instead of a Gordian-knot-slicer.

But as I say, I’m being unduly high in my expectations. It was fun while it lasted. Russell never does less than splendid work in any comic role, and watching her make the screenplay plausible with some of her always precise eyework. (I’m not kidding. Follow the gaze of Rosalind Russell – she’s doing simultaneous windows-to-the-soul and a the-director-wants-your-focus-THERE work all the time, and it’s a skill lacking in a lot of film actors, with the added benefit for her that your own eyes refuse to look away from her lest they miss something.)

I also quite enjoyed the Vaguely Latin Gigolo that was Jose of the Erik Rhodes school.

And there’s Benchley, an ode to whom I leave you with.

benchley

To Robert Benchley

O Robert Benchley, Worchester’s favorite son,

You left the Table Round for LA’s smog

And taught us all just How It Should Be Done

(To sleep, detect, behave, to train a dog).

You served to us (in more than just a dollop)

Ivy-beleaguerment, befuddledly

Relating tales like The Sex Life of the Polyp,

Narrating links for Flesh and Fantasy;

But back to that Round Table you were summoned:

Sir Rhosis you were dubbed – you overwined

And so you were unmanned. (Also unwomaned,

Since Gertrude, your dear spouse lived on behind.)

But Life was not the same once you moved on.

(In fact, you AND the magazine are gone.)

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