Bluebeard Eighth Wife (1938): Lubitsch’s Farce, Starring Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert

Ernst Lubitsch directed this farce, scripted by Charles M. Brackett and Billy Wilder (before he became a director) about a free-wheeling millionaire named Michael Brandon, who enjoys getting married but has hard time staying married.

This story was previously shot as a silent picture in 1923.  Cast against type, Gary Cooper stars as the wealthy American Michael Brandon, who keeps collecting former wives.

Walking into a Riviera department store to buy pajamas, he walks out with a girl he plans to make his eighth wife.  Nicole de Louiselle, played by Claudette Colbert, is the beautiful daughter of an impoverished French aristocrat.  Despite his class and wealth, Nicole gives Michael his first runaround, which, of course, makes him all the more motivated and aggressive.

Michael then tries to win Nicole by over-paying her father for some antiques, which infuriates her.  However, under pressure from daddy, Nicole accepts Michael’s proposal.  During their honeymoon in Europe, Nicole tries to tame the American “Bluebeard,” fearing that otherwise she might end up like his previous seven brides.

She seems to be winning the small battles, but losing the big war.  Her plots are so effective that they backfire: Michael grants her divorce.   Though Nicole gains a fortune, she loses the man she now really loves.

The tables turn, and it’s now Nicole who becomes the aggressive pursuer, chasing “Bluebeard” all over France.  He takes refuge in a secluded sanatorium near Paris, forcing Nicole buys the place and put him in strait-jacket.  Realizing that he has finally met his match, Michael relents, and all ends well.


Claudette Colbert (Nicole de Loiselle)

Gary Cooper (Michael Brandon)

Edward Everett Horton (The Marquis de Loiselle)

David Niven (Albert de Regnier)

Elizabeth Patterson (Aunt Hedwige)

Herman Bing (Monsieur Pepinard)

Warren Hymer (Kid Mulligan)

Franklin Pang-born, Armand Cortes (Assistant Hotel Managers)

Rolfe Sedan (Floorwalker)

Lawrence Grant (Professor Urganzeff)

Lionel Pape (Monsieur Potin)

Tyler Brooke (Clerk)

Tom Ricketts (Uncle Andre)

Barlow Borland (Uncle Fernandel)

Charles Halton (Monsieur de la Coste — President)

Pauline Garon (Customer)

Ray de Ravenne (Package Clerk)

Sheila Darcy (Maid)

Blanche Franke (Cashier)

Joseph Romantin (Headwaiter)

Alphonse Martell (Hotel Employee)

Harold Minjir (Photographer)

Gino Corrado (Waiter who carries Marquis)

Terry Ray [later Ellen Drew] (Secretary)

Leon Ames (Ex-Chauffeur)

Olaf Hytten (Valet)

Grace Goodall (Nurse)

Jimmie Dime (Prizefighter)



Produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Screenplay: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, based on a play by Alfred Savoir.

Camera: Leo Tover.

Editor: William Shea.

Art Directors: Hans Dreier, Robert Usher.

Musical Score: Frederick Hollander, Werner R. Heymann.

Sound Recorder: Harry D. Mills.

Orchestrations: John Leipold.

Running time: 80 Minutes.

Released March 25, 1938.

DVD: March 28, 1995