The Fox Cinema Archives label is a line of MOD (Manufactured
on Demand) DVDs. These burned discs
allow movie fans to obtain the best quality unrestored versions of more
titles directly from the studio, titles that would otherwise be
home video. Part of their first wave of
titles is a Anne Baxter vehicle My Wife's
Best Friend, a marital comedy that's pretty dated.
Lacking in laughs and featuring a rather
unappealing main character it probably played much better back in 1952
was originally released.
George Mason (Macdonald Carey) is the owner of a successful
company in a mid-sized town. He works
long and hard but makes time for his wife Virginia (Anne Baxter). As the movie opens he's taking Virginia to Hawaii
long vacation, something more spectacular that the shopping trips to New York or Chicago
that he usually gives her. They're
driven to the airport by Virginia's
closest friend, the unmarried Jane (Catherine McLeod).
The whole time the couple is checking in,
Jane is complaining about how dull and boring George is, and how she
was more of a "wolf."
Soon after takeoff one to the plane's engines catches fire
and they have to make an emergency landing.
Seeing flames bursting from the wing, George and Virginia are
they're both going to die. Virginia
being such a nag and so selfish. She
feels bad that she has been such an overbearing wife while George has
been perfect and sweet to her. George,
in turn, confesses that he hasn't always behaved as a husband should. Three years ago, while Virginia
was on an extended shopping trip in New York, he got lonely, and had a
couple of martinis,
wants to know who he was with, and he reluctantly admits that it was
friend Jane. He tells her there's more
to the story, and asks for her forgiveness since he's been tortured by
memory ever since it happened. She
forgives just as the plane... makes a safe landing.
Back home safe and sound, Virginia
is very quite and, naturally,
upset. She goes to their lawyer and asks
him to represent her in the divorce but he declines and talks her out
splitting. Instead, Virginia decides to make her
a living hell by ruining his business and publically humiliating him in
of the entire city.
This is a situation comedy, but there really aren't a lot of
jokes. It's the position poor George
finds himself in that's supposed to supply the amusement, but looking
from 60 years after it was made it's just not that funny.
decides to get back at her husband by ruining an important business
implies that George works her constantly (while the truth is she has
to wait on her) and that he even beats her.
She cowers when he asks why she isn't dressed and when she
burnt dinner she's prepared pleads in terror for his forgiveness. I just don't find the idea of abused women
funny, and women who pretend to be even less so.
I might have enjoyed the film more if Virginia was a likable character,
the moment she appears on screen nagging her husband I found her
unpleasant. George came across as a
hen-pecked wimp more than a leader of industry since he put up with all
The movie synopsis on the box is quite deceiving. It
claims that Virginia
imagines different ways that she,
as different historical female figures would deal with the situation. While that's true, it's a very minor part of
the film. There are three such interludes,
each lasting 30-45 seconds, and in them she just imagines how she'd
husband if she was a ruler, in one case literally walking all over him. I suppose these were supposed to be funny,
but they just made Virginia
seem mean and cruel.
Of course the ending is predictable, and since this was made
in 1952 the part of the story that George wasn't able to tell Virginia was
pretty significant (though to
his credit he tries to tell her a couple of times but she won't listen.) Even when all was said and done, Virginia came
a mean spirited, spoiled child who never gets her comeuppance and it's
like a movie when that's the lead character.
The mono soundtrack is generally clean and clear with only
faint traces of background noise. The
dialog is easy to discern and the music comes through nicely, even if
dynamic range is rather limited due to the technology of the time.
The full frame image
is better than I was expecting. The
unrestored movie obviously comes from a very nice print and is clear
excellent contrast. The level of detail
is very good too. The only real problem
is some light cross colorization that appears throughout the film from
time, and a few specks of dirt.
Like most MOD releases, this does not contain any bonus
While I generally like films from the post-war era I found
this one unappealing. It wasn't so much
that it was dull or lifeless (which it was) but that the main character
pretty unappealing and cruel. There are
much better films to watch, pass this one by.