Too Many Husbands (1940)

80 or 84 mins | Comedy | 21 March 1940

Director:

Wesley Ruggles

Writer:

Claude Binyon

Producer:

Wesley Ruggles

Cinematographer:

Joseph Walker

Production Designer:

Lionel Banks

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Somerset Maugham's stage play later opened in New York on 8 Oct 1919; as Home and Beauty it opened in London on 30 Aug 1919. This film was Wesley Ruggles' first picture as director and producer for Columbia. The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that the PCA informed Columbia in Oct 1939 that the script of the play was in violation of the Production Code because of its "apparent lack of any respect for the sanctity of marriage; its farcical treatment of the subject of bigamy; and its very frank and detailed discussion of the unsavory subject of divorce by collusion." Although HR pre-release news items and production charts list actors Mary Treen, Garry Owen, Mercedes Angell and Lee "Lasses" White in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Feb 1940 HR news item indicated that Columbia selected a jury of twelve female college students from UCLA to help it decide which of two possible endings it should use for the film. A subsequent news item noted that all of the film except for the ending would be screened for coeds from UCLA and USC, and that they would discuss the ending with studio officials. The director had one ending in which Jean Arthur takes Fred MacMurray as her husband, and another in which she takes Melvyn Douglas. The studio also reportedly sent out more than 10,000 questionaires to college students throughout the country to help it decide which ending to use.
       Too Many Husbands received an Academy Award ... More Less

Somerset Maugham's stage play later opened in New York on 8 Oct 1919; as Home and Beauty it opened in London on 30 Aug 1919. This film was Wesley Ruggles' first picture as director and producer for Columbia. The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that the PCA informed Columbia in Oct 1939 that the script of the play was in violation of the Production Code because of its "apparent lack of any respect for the sanctity of marriage; its farcical treatment of the subject of bigamy; and its very frank and detailed discussion of the unsavory subject of divorce by collusion." Although HR pre-release news items and production charts list actors Mary Treen, Garry Owen, Mercedes Angell and Lee "Lasses" White in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Feb 1940 HR news item indicated that Columbia selected a jury of twelve female college students from UCLA to help it decide which of two possible endings it should use for the film. A subsequent news item noted that all of the film except for the ending would be screened for coeds from UCLA and USC, and that they would discuss the ending with studio officials. The director had one ending in which Jean Arthur takes Fred MacMurray as her husband, and another in which she takes Melvyn Douglas. The studio also reportedly sent out more than 10,000 questionaires to college students throughout the country to help it decide which ending to use.
       Too Many Husbands received an Academy Award nomination in the Sound Recording category. Another film based on the same source is the 1955 Columbia film Three for the Show , directed by H. C. Potter and starring Betty Grable and Jack Lemmon. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
4 Mar 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Mar 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 40
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
7 Mar 40
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Mar 40
p. 48.
New York Times
8 Mar 40
p. 25.
Variety
6 Mar 40
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Too Many Husbands by W. Somerset Maugham (Atlantic City, NJ, 4 Aug 1919).
SONGS
"Tyrolka," music by Walter Jurman, lyrics by Bernie Grossman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 March 1940
Production Date:
11 December 1939--late January 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 March 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9456
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 84
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6036
SYNOPSIS

A year after her husband Bill has been reported drowned in a boating accident, Vicky Cardew marries his business partner and best friend, Henry Lowndes. As Bill's name is being removed from the office doors, Vicky's father George receives a long distance call from Bill, and is shocked to learn that he is alive. Bill tells his father-in-law that he will be arriving in town that night by airplane. For the past year, Bill has been marooned on a desert island and is now eager to return home to his wife. Vicky and Henry go to the airport to meet Bill, but neither one can summon the nerve to tell him what has happened. As Bill makes plans to spend his first night with his wife, they finally tell him the truth. Trouble begins when both husbands begin lavishing love and attention on their mutual wife, who refuses to decide between them and instead embarks upon a dizzying flirtation to keep them both on equal terms. Though tempers begin to flare, Vicky enjoys the attention and competition between her husbands. As she mulls over her dilemma, the two men put on a show of strength for her, each trying to outperform the other by jumping over living room furniture, until both men suffer injuries. When the husbands become pals for a night and walk out on Vicky to teach her a lesson, she calls the police. The police investigators nab her husbands, but Vicky is unable to conceal her illegal living arrangement from the police and is hauled off to court. Although a judge decides that Bill is Vicky's legal husband, Henry ... +


A year after her husband Bill has been reported drowned in a boating accident, Vicky Cardew marries his business partner and best friend, Henry Lowndes. As Bill's name is being removed from the office doors, Vicky's father George receives a long distance call from Bill, and is shocked to learn that he is alive. Bill tells his father-in-law that he will be arriving in town that night by airplane. For the past year, Bill has been marooned on a desert island and is now eager to return home to his wife. Vicky and Henry go to the airport to meet Bill, but neither one can summon the nerve to tell him what has happened. As Bill makes plans to spend his first night with his wife, they finally tell him the truth. Trouble begins when both husbands begin lavishing love and attention on their mutual wife, who refuses to decide between them and instead embarks upon a dizzying flirtation to keep them both on equal terms. Though tempers begin to flare, Vicky enjoys the attention and competition between her husbands. As she mulls over her dilemma, the two men put on a show of strength for her, each trying to outperform the other by jumping over living room furniture, until both men suffer injuries. When the husbands become pals for a night and walk out on Vicky to teach her a lesson, she calls the police. The police investigators nab her husbands, but Vicky is unable to conceal her illegal living arrangement from the police and is hauled off to court. Although a judge decides that Bill is Vicky's legal husband, Henry refuses to admit defeat and continues to court her. Both men ignore the court ruling and vow to keep Vicky happy in the future and share a dance with her to show the sincerity of their intentions. +

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

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