Dream Wife (1953)

99 mins | Romantic comedy | 19 June 1953

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HISTORY

The film's opening credits are presented after a speech delivered by the "Kahn of Bukistan," who addresses the audience in gibberish which is "translated" by subtitles. A 1951 Var news item noted that M-G-M purchased the story on which this film was based for appoximately $50,000. Sidney Sheldon made his directing and producing debut with Dream Wife , but he is not credited as producer onscreen or in reviews. HR news items add Ben Astar and James Mitchell to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a pre-production item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column, M-G-M originally sought June Allyson for a leading role. An HR news item stated that Dimitri Tiomkin would compose the film's score, but Conrad Salinger is credited onscreen with the music. Dream Wife marked the screen debut of stage actress Betta St. John, who changed her name from Betta Streigler.
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter, dated 27 Nov1951, written by Joseph Breen of the PCA and sent to Dore Schary, in which Breen warned the producer that the "basic story" of the script or treatment was in violation of the Production Code. Breen wrote that the presentation of the U.S. State Dept. and the fictitious country of Bukistan constituted a violation of the Production Code. While commending the studio for making it clear that Bukistan was a fictitious country, Breen nevertheless asserted that it was a "rather thin veil" through which it was clear to see that the locale of the story ... More Less

The film's opening credits are presented after a speech delivered by the "Kahn of Bukistan," who addresses the audience in gibberish which is "translated" by subtitles. A 1951 Var news item noted that M-G-M purchased the story on which this film was based for appoximately $50,000. Sidney Sheldon made his directing and producing debut with Dream Wife , but he is not credited as producer onscreen or in reviews. HR news items add Ben Astar and James Mitchell to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a pre-production item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column, M-G-M originally sought June Allyson for a leading role. An HR news item stated that Dimitri Tiomkin would compose the film's score, but Conrad Salinger is credited onscreen with the music. Dream Wife marked the screen debut of stage actress Betta St. John, who changed her name from Betta Streigler.
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter, dated 27 Nov1951, written by Joseph Breen of the PCA and sent to Dore Schary, in which Breen warned the producer that the "basic story" of the script or treatment was in violation of the Production Code. Breen wrote that the presentation of the U.S. State Dept. and the fictitious country of Bukistan constituted a violation of the Production Code. While commending the studio for making it clear that Bukistan was a fictitious country, Breen nevertheless asserted that it was a "rather thin veil" through which it was clear to see that the locale of the story was the Near East. [Both the film and studio publicity identified "Bukistan" as a Middle Eastern country.]
       Breen went on to write that the story "ridicules the way of life, the customs, and habits of people unmistakably identified as present day natives of the explosive Near East territory." Although Breen informed Schary in Sep 1952 that the story, which was probably revised and then resubmitted, seemed to "meet the provisions of the Code," he later appealed to Schary to consider the possiblity that the exhibition of the film might lead to charges that Hollywood was propagandizing. Breen emphasized that the "whole Middle East, predominately Moslem, is in a very touchy state of mind right now." He further noted that the film might "influence public opinion in connection with the troubled question of the State of Israel," and that the charges of propagandizing might result in "serious damage throughout the Moslem world, not only to the company involved, but to our industry in general, and in fact to the whole foreign policy of the United States in that area."
       Dream Wife received an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Costume Design. Several months after the film was released, Sidney Sheldon requested a release from his contract and moved over to Paramount. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Mar 1953.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Mar 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 52
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 52
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 53
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Mar 53
p. 1758.
New York Times
30 Jul 53
p. 20.
Variety
19 Mar 1951.
---
Variety
11 Mar 53
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
William McCormick
Alphonse Martel
Robert E. Nichols
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Women's cost des
Men's cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
Makeup created by
STAND INS
Singing voice double for Betta St. John
SOURCES
SONGS
"Tarji's Song" and "Ghi-li, Ghi-li, Ghi-li," music and lyrics by Charles Wolcott and Jamshid Sheibani.
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 June 1953
Production Date:
mid September--late October 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 March 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2716
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
99
Length(in feet):
8,891
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16307
SYNOPSIS

While on a business trip to the Middle Eastern country of Bukistan, American salesman Clemson Reade is invited to the home of the Khan of Bukistan. There he meets the Khan's beautiful daughter, the princess Tarji, who performs a seductive dance for him. During the dance, the Khan tells Clemson that Tarji has been "trained" to devote her life to pleasing the man she marries. Clemson is fascinated by prospect of an utterly devoted wife, but he leaves Bukistan the following week to marry his American fiancée, Priscilla "Effie" Effington. Back in New York, Clemson visits Effie at the State Department, where she works, only to be brushed aside by her attention to an oil crisis. Later that night, Effie spoils a romantic evening planned by Clemson when she tells him that the wedding must be postponed until after the oil deal is signed. When Effie's partner, Walter McBride, drops by to discuss the oil contract, Clemson realizes that his desire for a "full-time wife" cannot be reconciled with Effie's demand for a "part-time husband," and he calls off the engagement. The following day, while meeting with his male colleagues and bemoaning the progress made by women seeking their independence, Clemson hits upon the idea of marrying Tarji, the one woman he knows who was "trained from that day she was born to be a dream wife." Clemson cables a marriage proposal to Tarji, and in three weeks the princess' acceptance arrives with a delivery of goats as her dowry. Meanwhile, at the State Department, McBride, worried that a misstep by Clemson in the courting of Tarji will result in a collapse of the oil ... +


While on a business trip to the Middle Eastern country of Bukistan, American salesman Clemson Reade is invited to the home of the Khan of Bukistan. There he meets the Khan's beautiful daughter, the princess Tarji, who performs a seductive dance for him. During the dance, the Khan tells Clemson that Tarji has been "trained" to devote her life to pleasing the man she marries. Clemson is fascinated by prospect of an utterly devoted wife, but he leaves Bukistan the following week to marry his American fiancée, Priscilla "Effie" Effington. Back in New York, Clemson visits Effie at the State Department, where she works, only to be brushed aside by her attention to an oil crisis. Later that night, Effie spoils a romantic evening planned by Clemson when she tells him that the wedding must be postponed until after the oil deal is signed. When Effie's partner, Walter McBride, drops by to discuss the oil contract, Clemson realizes that his desire for a "full-time wife" cannot be reconciled with Effie's demand for a "part-time husband," and he calls off the engagement. The following day, while meeting with his male colleagues and bemoaning the progress made by women seeking their independence, Clemson hits upon the idea of marrying Tarji, the one woman he knows who was "trained from that day she was born to be a dream wife." Clemson cables a marriage proposal to Tarji, and in three weeks the princess' acceptance arrives with a delivery of goats as her dowry. Meanwhile, at the State Department, McBride, worried that a misstep by Clemson in the courting of Tarji will result in a collapse of the oil deal, assigns Effie to chaperone the two and ensure that their courtship goes smoothly. Soon after Tarji arrives in New York, Clemson becomes frustrated when he learns that Eastern custom forbids any physical contact with his new fiancée until after their marriage. To make matters worse, Clemson is told that the wedding date has been set by the Khan and that it will not be for another three months. Under Effie's tutelage, Tarji soon learns how to speak English, and appreciate the emancipated life that Western women enjoy. One day, while walking in the city, Tarji meets a number of young men, and innocently leads them to believe that she is available for dates. Later that night, confusion abounds when the men that Tarji met on the street arrive at her hotel room expecting to spend time with the princess. A fistfight ensues, and Tarji is jailed as a result. Angered by news of the scandal, the Khan rushes to America and announces the end of his daughter's romance with Clemson. With the oil contract in peril, Effie uses her charm to win the friendship of the Khan, and persuades him to let Tarji marry Clemson. The day before he and Tarji are to marry, however, Clemson rediscovers his love for Effie and decides to break off his engagement. Tarji breaks the engagement first, though, and tells him that she prefers to marry someone that she chooses herself. After extracting a promise from the Khan to sign the oil agreement, Effie turns her attention to Clemson, and the two embrace in a kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.