Screwball antics in Day-Time Wife (’39)

Day-Time Wife with Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell is a very weak film — I wanted to like it (the DVD transfer from 20th Century Fox was awesome – pristine and from the negative), but the script is quite poor… although I will say that the film had fantastic potential.  Tyrone Power, plays Ken Norton, a philandering businessman who starts out the film forgetting that it’s his anniversary.  Jane, his wife, soon realizes he’s having a side fling with his secretary, and vows to figure out what it is that makes secretaries more appealing than wives in 1930’s New York.  She gets a job as a secretary to Tyrone’s business partner and hijinks ensue when the business partner, Warren, Jane, Ken and his secretary all show up to the same party together.  

So far so good, but I think the latter half of the film falls flat.  That isn’t to say the film isn’t without its merits.  Joan Davis has a brilliant cameo as a Joan-Harris-of-Mad-Men type and Mildred Gover has a great one liner as Ken and Jane’s housekeeper.  The cinematography is beautiful.  

I won’t tell you how it ends, but I think a more modern retelling of this film is needed, where Jane just rips Ken a new one and we find Ken at the bottom of the social ladder.  A little too sexist and unsettling for a modern viewer, but still… it is quite amazing the performance Linda Darnell pulled off at the age of 16 (according to history, or 24 according to IMDb).  For my money, Bringing Up Baby is still the best film of this genre from 1939.  


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