Review: Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife
Blu-ray: Bluebeard’s Eight Wife (1938)
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife is one of those 1930’s Hollywood screwball comedies that ping and zing with dialogue that can still make you chuckle 90 years later.
On the French Riviera, Grumpy and wealthy businessman Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper, who is rather miscast in this role) wants to buy JUST a pajama top, as he never wears bottoms, the store refuses, until a beautiful and mysterious French woman (with an American accent) called Nicole (Claudette Colbert) offers to buy the bottoms. They flirt, leave and Michael decides he’s going to marry her.
Much screwball comedy ensues – resulting in the star crossed lovers getting engaged, only for Nicole to find out that when she married Michael, she will be wife number 8. You see he falls in love very easily, and tends to ‘buy’ his brides before becoming bored with them. He explains that he gives each of his wives a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing $50,000 a year for life if they should divorce, Nicole says that she will marry him for double that amount.
Of course because of the Hollywood Hayes code, Michael couldn’t complain that Nicole was withholding sex from him in the hope he’d divorce her quickly and make her rich. Instead he constantly moans that Nicole should ‘be nice’ to him, which actually made me chuckle more!
I should also mention Colbert’s costumes in this film, Oh my word, never mind the plot, I bemoaned the fact that this was in black and white because I think most of the budget was spent on them. So many Froufrous! Another mention to the gorgeous David Niven’s very tightly fitting knitted trunks…he was such a gifted man.
I suppose a way to sum this film up is despite Cooper being miscast, and Colbert looking a tad too old to be an ingenue, and the story being a bit… meh, I still enjoyed it and laughed at the jokes. The 90 year old jokes!
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with academic and curator Eloise Ross (2023)
- The Guardian Interview with Claudette Colbert (1984, 57 mins): archival audio recording of the celebrated performer in conversation at London’s National Film Theatre
- United States (1944, 46 mins): military training film, narrated by David Niven during his time away from Hollywood to serve in the Army, and produced to instruct British troops in the history of their American allies
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Pamela Hutchinson, archival production reports, contemporary profiles of producer-director Ernst Lubitsch, an account of the lost 1923 adaptation of Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife starring Gloria Swanson and Huntley Gordon, an overview of contemporary critical responses, Fiona Kelly on United States, and full film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies for the UK
Release date: 27 March 2023. Limited Edition Blu-ray (UK premiere).
Review by Tina from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.