Four Wives (1939): Curtiz Sequel to Four Daughters, Starring the Lane Sisters

Four Wives is a 1939 American drama film starring the Lane Sisters (Priscilla Lane, Rosemary Lane, Lola Lane) and Gale Page.

The versatile Michael Curtiz directed Four Wives, based on Fannie Hurst‘s story “Sister Act.”

Released by Warner December 25, 1939, the film is a sequel to Four Daughters (1938) and the second chapter in a  trilogy that was followed by Four Mothers (1941).

Ann Lemp Borden (Priscilla Lane) has been recently widowed, after her husband Mickey Borden (John Garfield), an unlucky musical genius, is tragically killed in a car accident. She now lives at home again with her father (Claude Rains), Aunt Etta (May Robson) and younger sister Kay (Rosemary Lane).

Kay is dating a young doctor Clint Forrest Jr. (Eddie Albert), while Emma and Thea are trying to conceive with their respective husbands. Ann, engaged to musical composer Felix Dietz (Jeffrey Lynn) suddenly discovers that she is pregnant with her deceased husband’s child. Unable to forget Mickey, she vacillates on marrying Felix.

A flashback shows Mickey playing an unfinished musical composition that has “only a middle…no beginning…no ending.”  Ann, who frequently replays the tune on her piano, is distressed over Mickey’s tough life. Felix eventually convinces Ann to marry him and they elope. Felix finishes Mickey’s composition and conducts it on radio, with a speech commemorating Mickey’s genius and untimely death.

Felix’s gallant act makes Ann rediscovers her love for him, and the couple go on to have a normal happy life with child, nieces and nephews.

Intertextuality

John Garfield appears briefly as the ghost of his former proud self, and Eddie Albert is the new young man, a young doctor with high opinion of Pasteur and Ehrlich, both of which were celebrated in Warner’s biopics.

Black-and white

Running time: 110 Minutes

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