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Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Ideal Husband (1947)

An adventuress (Paulette Goddard) of dubious ethics attempts to blackmail a prominent member (Hugh Williams) of the House of Commons into supporting a fraudulent scheme to build a canal in Argentina by revealing a youthful indiscretion of his that would taint his unblemished reputation. His wife (Diana Wynyard) has very strict moral views on right and wrong and any unethical behavior on his part would cause a rift in their marriage. The Oscar Wilde play on honor and its shades of gray gets the lavish Technicolor treatment from director Alexander Korda (THAT HAMILTON WOMAN), costumes by Cecil Beaton (MY FAIR LADY), sets by Vincent Korda (THIEF OF BAGDAD) and music by Arthur Benjamin. It's not very cinematic and makes very few, if any, concessions to cinema but the lively acting prevents it from coming across as a musty museum piece and it stays faithful to Wilde's construct. There's a touch of the common in Goddard's blackmailing Mrs. Cheveley which contrasts nicely to the slightly stiff English aristocracy. With Glynis Johns, Michael Wilding, C. Aubrey Smith and Constance Collier.

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