Dream Wife (1953): Cary Grant Romantic Comedy, Starring Deborah Kerr

One of Cary Grant’s weaker romantic comedies, Dream Wife was produced by Dore Chary, and directed by Sidney Sheldon from a verbose script that he and other collaborators (Herbert Baker, Alfred Lewis Levitt) had concocted for the star.

Grant plays Clemson Reade, a middle-aged conservative businessman who wants to marry an old-fashioned woman, who would devote herself to domestic life and take care of her husband.

However, he’s fallen in love with Priscilla “Effie” Effington (Deborah Kerr), a career woman in the State Department, who’s in the midst of trying to resolve a major political crisis in the fictitious Middle Eastern nation of Bukistan.  The United States wishes to maintain good relations with Bukistan due to its rich oil supplies.

Tired of waiting for Effie, Clemson finds a potential submissive bride in the person of Princess Tarji (Betta Saint John), King of Bukistan’s daughter who has been train to faithfully serve her man.

In order to protect the proposed oil deal, Grant’s courtship of the Princess, which he attempts to conduct by “American” customs, must be adjusted to Bukistanian tradition.

Clemson half-seriously proposes a marriage to Tarji, and the latter responds by visiting the US. The State Department then decides that Effie should look after Tarji while she’s in America; to Clemson’s chagrin, Effie uses her time with Tarji to enlighten her about the more liberated status of women in the West.

The movie was both a critical and commercial disappointment.

Shortly after this film’s release, Cary Grant went into a self-imposed retirement from acting, turning down many lucrative offers, including Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, and A Star Is Born with Judy Garland.

In 1955, Hitchcock persuaded Grant to return to film with his thriller To Catch a Thief (opposite Grace Kelly), which revived his career and made him again a bona fide star.