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"Dream Wife"

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Character's Name: Clemson Reade
Release Date:  June 19, 1953
Director: Sidney Sheldon
Studio:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Running Time: 97 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Clemson Reade), Deborah Kerr (Effie), Walter Pidgeon (Walter McBride), Betta St. John (Tarji), Eduard Franz (Khan, Buddy Baer (Vizier), Les Treymayne (Ken Landwell), Donald Randolph (Ali), Bruce Bennett (Charlie Elkwood), Richard Anderson (Henry Malvine), Dan Tobin (Mr. Brown)

- by Zoë Shaw
Clemson believes a wife's place is in the home. He splits up with Effie, a state official, because she is too engrossed in her work. He proposes to Tarji, a princess he met on a trip to Bukistan, because she has been schooled all her life in the art of pleasing men. When Tarji comes to the U.S. she meets Effie and discovers that there is more to life than pleasing men. Clemson makes up with Effie.

- by Debbie Dunlap
Clemson Reade, a business tycoon with marriage on his mind, and Effie, a U.S. diplomat, are a modern couple. Unfortunately there seems to be too much business and not enough pleasure on the part of Effie. When Clemson meets Tarji, a princess trained in all the arts of pleasing men, he decides he wants an old fashioned girl. Princess Tarji's father is king of oil-rich Bukistan. Because of the oil situation and to maintain good political relations during the courtship between Clemson & Tarji, the State Department assigns a diplomat to maintain protocol until the wedding. Effie! Under Effie's influence, Tarji becomes not quite the girl of his dreams! Under Tarji's influence, Effie becomes more the girl of his dreams!

VARIETY Film Review - March 11, 1953
- by "Brog"
- submitted by Barry Martin
A battle-of-the-sexes theme is used for this fairly entertaining, highly contrived piece of screen nonsense. Name of Cary Grant and the M-G label afford it its best booking opportunities and can get some coin. Also, there is an exploitation angle in the reuniting of Grant, Dore Schary and Sidney Sheldon, all connected with the successful "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer," a 1947 RKO release. However, "Wife" is no entertainment match for "Bachelor."

Grant, a man who wants a wife in the home, not in business, breaks with Deborah Kerr, State Dept. official who is too busy with an oil crisis to have time for matrimony. Walter Pidgeon, co-starring as Miss Kerr's State Department boss, doesn't have much to do. Remembering a comely princess, Betta St. John, whom he had met on a trip to Bukistan in the Middle East and the fact that she had been raised from birth in the art of pleasing man, Grant proposes via cable.

Because of the oil situation, the State Dept. steps in and assigns Miss Kerr to see that her ex-fiancé sticks to protocol in his new courtship. The princess comes to the states, but the feminine craft of Miss Kerr soon has Miss St. John figuring that emancipation is more fun than being a dream wife. It's no problem to foresee from the time of the Grant-Kerr break that they will be back together for the finale.

Sheldon, who collaborated on the screenplay with Herbert Baker and Alfred Lewis Levitt, also tries his hand at directing the farce comedy, but without too much success. Able performers help to carry the script's silliness through the frenetics, but Sheldon lets the action slop over into very broad slapstick too often, when more subtle farcing would have seemed in order. This loose handling reflects occasionally in the performances, most notably in Grant's. Dialog and situations have their chuckles, however.

Miss Kerr, smartly gowned, comes off attractively, and Miss St. John impresses as the princess with a yen for Grant until she learns about the freedom taken by American women. She dances; sings "Tarji's Song" and "Ghi-li, Ghi-li, Ghi-li," both by Charles Wolcott and Jamshid Sheibani; speaks in a heavily-accented, delightful dialect, and treats the eye with her Oriental costumes. Eduard Franz, Khan of Bukistan; Buddy Baer, a native guard, and smaller spots occupied by Les Tremayne, Donald Randolph, Bruce Bennett and Richard Anderson, come off acceptably.

Schary's production supervision guides the picture towards making the most of the most of the sophisticated nonsense in the story and the physical aspects of the production are well cared for by such expert technical credits as Milton Krasner's lensing, special effects and art direction. Conrad Salinger's music score hits an appropriate Oriental flavor. 

- by Kathy Fox

Cary Grant starred with Deborah Kerr three times in a period of seven years, and this is their first film together, the others being AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and THE GRASS IS GREENER.  After making a string of not-so-successful movies, from 1950-1953, Cary thought his career was over and decided to take a trip around the world with his wife, Betsy.  These films now are part of the Cary mystique, and, of course, we are so glad to have on the list of 72 films he made over a period of 34 years, etched on the silver screen, VHS tapes or CDs forever.  DREAM WIFE, a story written especially for Grant and Kerr, is the story of  Clemson Reade (Grant), who is engaged to Priscilla Effington (Kerr), but they can't seem to set a date for their wedding, because Effie is so involved with the state department and the oil crisis in Bukistan.  Reade has been to Bukistan trying to sell the country hydraulic equipment and has met Tarji (Beta St. John) who has been reared to be the "Dream Wife."  Reade is attracted to her and sends her a wire from New York, offering marriage.  Her father accepts the proposal and then the fun begins.  Tarji comes to America to marry Clem, but her country has strict rules.  Tarji who has been under her father's thumb all her life, finds freedom in America, and Effie who wanted freedom decides that she, yes, in love with Clem after all.  "Make an earthquake for me, Clem," Effie shouts as the movie ends.  It is a cute film, with Cary doing his thing very well, but DREAM WIFE, did less than was expected at the box office.  Cary is very slim and attractive in this movie, which adds to his Caryesqueness, if you know what I mean. 

VARIETY Film Review - July 30, 1953
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
In an amiable way of speaking, the eternal struggle between American men and American women is the passionately controversial theme of Metro's new comedy, "Dream Wife," which came to the Rivoli yesterday.  But in an equally amiable way of speaking, it must be said that the theme is pursued with less passion than sportive affection, and less controversy than sweet accord.

Here, in as gay a movie mix-up as the summer is likely to bring, and, indeed, in as cheerful a trifle as we're likely to see this year, Cary Grant, who has often fought the battle and now bravely wears his obvious scars, goes down in inevitable surrender to an irresistibly feminine Deborah Kerr. But he does have his momentary triumph; for the better part of the film he is left to appear as the lordly idol of a deliciously exotic Betta St. John.

It is a brightly conceived little notion that Sidney Sheldon and a couple of other scribes have whipped up for this frothy amusement.  And it is nicely escorted to the screen, with just the right amount of unmistakable winking, under Mr. Sheldon's directorial command.

Briefly, it is the story of an urbane, but plain, American male who thinks that a wife should serve her husband before she devotes herself to a career.  Indeed, he feels rather strongly  that women are allowed to get away with a great deal more arrogance and authority in our society than are rightly deserved.  

And so, when he finds that his fiancée is more concerned with business than with him, he minds himself a young princess whom he met on a trip to the Near East.  He minds himself that her powerful father has offered him her hand, and that she has been trained in the tradition of her people to think of nothing but the happiness of her man.  He minds these things rather strongly, and a proposal of marriage is exchanged.  

Next thing you know, the princess is arriving in New York, accompanied by a retinue of servants and preceded by a shipment of dowry goats.  And from here on it is a gleeful matter of juxtaposing the baffling customs of the East and the equally baffling customs of American society and commercial intrigue, stubbornly maintained by big oil interests, which are represented by the fiancée.

In such a helpless situation, you can imagine the stew of Mr. Grant - that is, if you've seen him cornered by tireless females in other films.  Rebellion rises in his spirit and tart sarcasm drips from his tongue, but defeat is measured in his glances.  He is very amusing in this film.  And so, too, in contrary fashion, is the cool and elegant Miss Kerr.  She is most amusing as the by-passed fiancée when she serves as interpreter for the princess and Mr. Grant.  

Less comical but no less charming is the newly recruited Miss St. John, who was wooed from the stage and "South Pacific," in which she played the original "Younger than Springtime" girl.  And Walter Pidgeon, as a straight-faced oil executive; Eduard Franz, as the father of the intended bride, and Buddy Baer, as the latter's ruthless guardian, contribute much to the fun.

On the large screen at the Rivoli, the light conceits may loom fearsomely at times and the pace may drag slightly in some places.  But, for the most part, "Dream Wife" is a doll.

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