Dream Wife (1953): Cary Grant Romantic Comedy, Directed by Sidney Sheldon and Co-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.

Grade: C (* 1/2* out of *****)

Dream Wife
DreamWife .jpg

Grant plays Clemson Reade, a middle-aged conservative businessman who wants to marry an old-fashioned woman, one 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 U.S. 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. Another teaming with Deborah Kerr, The Grass Is Greener, in 1960, was also a failure.

Of their 3 movies together, only McCarey’s remake, An Affair to Remember, in 1957, was successful, though still inferior to McCarey’s original film of 1939, titled Love Affair, starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne.

Shortly after this film’s release, Cary Grant went into 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.


Directed by Sidney Sheldon
Written by Herbert Baker, Alfred Lewis Levitt, Sidney Sheldon
Produced by Dore Schary
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by George White
Music by Conrad Salinger
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: June 19, 1953

Running time: 100 minutes
Budget $1,565,000
Box office $1,885,000

Cary Grant as Clemson Reade
Deborah Kerr as Effie
Walter Pidgeon as Walter McBride
Betta St. John as Tarji
Eduard Franz as Khan of Bukistan
Les Tremayne as Ken Landwell
Donald Randolph as Ali
Bruce Bennett as Charlie Elkwood
Richard Anderson as Henry Malvine
Dan Tobin as Mr. Brown
Movita as Rima
Gloria Holden as Mrs. Jean Landwell
Gordon Richards as Sir Cecil