I Married a Woman (1958): Hal Kanter’s Comedy, Starring George Gobel, Diana Dors, and John Wayne in Cameo as Himself.

Hal Kanter directed I Married a Woman (original titled “So There You Are”), a comedy starring George Gobel and Diana Dors, and featuring John Wayne in a cameo role as himself.

Grade: C- (* out of *****)

The film, which was stuck in “development hell” for years, was based on original story by New York radio writer-producer Goodman Ace.

Advertising executive Mickey Briggs is given 48 hours by his boss Sutton to devise a campaign for client Luxemberg Beer and save the company from ruin. Mickey neglects his wife, Janice, who once had been a “Miss Luxemberg” in a successful ad campaign featuring attractive models.

Janice has just discovered she is expecting a baby, but is unable to inform Mickey, who is  distracted by work. Even when they find time to go to a movie, John Wayne is on screen, being considerate to his screen wife (Angie Dickinson), which makes Janice weepy but Mickey finds unrealistic.

I Married a Woman
I Married a Woman.jpg

Film poster

It does give Mickey an idea, however, for a campaign in which “Miss Luxemberg” is now “Mrs. Luxemberg”, enjoying family bliss. Sutton loves it, then rejects all the applicants until he decides that Janice herself must return to be “Mrs. Luxemberg”. Film footage of their real life is shot without Janice’s knowledge.

All goes wrong, when Janice sues Mickey for divorce and Sutton’s company for $100,000. After flirting with Mickey’s wife, Bob Sanders breaks the news that she’s pregnant, making Mickey try harder to win her back.

On a cruise, the couple is startled to spot John Wayne on board, arguing with his wife.

It was filmed in RKO-Scope and black and white except for one of Wayne’s two scenes, which was shot in Technicolor.

It was filmed in RKO-Scope and black and white except for one of Wayne’s two scenes, which was shot in Technicolor.

It was filmed in RKO-Scope and black and white except for one of Wayne’s two scenes, which was shot in Technicolor.

It was filmed in RKO-Scope and black and white except for one of Wayne’s two scenes, which was shot in Technicolor.

In September 1950 the screen rights were bought by Norman Krasna and Jerry Wald (who had a production deal at RKO), whose first choice for the roles were Cary Grant and then wife Betsy Drake. In October Richard Fleischer was assigned directing, with Celeste Holm as star. Ace was brought to Hollywood to work on a script targeted at female audiences.

However, production kept being put back. In 1951 Wald and Krasna had a script, and wanted to cast Cary Grant. In 1956, Diana Dors signed to play the female lead opposite TV star George Gobell for $75,000 plus expenses. It was Gobel’s second leading role after The Birds and the Bees. Dors arrived in the U.S. in June, by which time directing was assigned to Hal Kanter. Kanter wished to make a “light and frothy” comedy, with Goodman Ace delivering witty barbs.

Heavily reliant on narration, I Married a Woman is neither light and frothy nor particularly funny or amusing romantic comedy.

Stiff to a fault, the narrative consists of acts between the central couple, Marshall and his father (Adolphe Menjou) or Janice and her mother, played by the great character actress, Jessie Royce Landis, who a year later would shine in Hitchcock’s masterpiece, “North By Northwest,” as Cary Grant’s witty and naughty mother,

Throughout the motif is “If only I can make him behave like John Wayne….”

In his two scenes, John Wayne seems to both channel and spoof the romantic image of countless Hollywood leading men, including Cary Grant.

Diana Dors, who’s effortlessly sexy, looks from afar like Jayne Mansfield– a slimmer Mansfield and far more appealing.

During filming RKO signed Dors to make a second film, “The Lady and the Prowler,” which became The Unholy Wife.

Cast
George Gobel as Marshall “Mickey” Briggs
Diana Dors as Janice Blake Briggs aka Miss Luxemberg
Adolphe Menjou as Frederick W. Sutton
Jessie Royce Landis as Marshall’s mother-in-law
Nita Talbot as Miss Anderson, Briggs’ secretary
William Redfield as Eddie Benson, elevator operator
Stephen Dunne as Bob Sanders
John McGiver as Girard, Sutton’s lawyer
Steve Pendleton as photographer trailing Briggs
John Wayne as himself (uncredited)

Credits:

Directed by Hal Kanter
Produced by William Bloom
Written by Goodman Ace
Music by Cyril Mockridge
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Kennie Marstella

Production company: RKO Radio Pictures

Distributed by Universal-International

Release date: May 14, 1958

Running time: 85 minutes