I Was a Male War Bride (Hawks, 1949)

A strange and curiously enlightening film from Howard Hawks. What starts out incredibly standard, i.e. Cary Grant’s French Capt. falls in love with Ann Sheridan’s feisty American Lt. on a mission in the German countryside, becomes something else altogether by the end. After the two get hitched, man and wife spend the rest of the movie trying to be together, hindered, divided and harassed by the United States military through a number of comedic cases of mistaken identity. The only way Grant can join Sheridan in America is to take war bride status, a hit to his ego and his masculinity. Hawks supplies the beautiful blocking and Grant brings the fast talking juice, but it’s the arc of the film that feels most revolutionary. Completely emasculated, tired, and tortured, Grant’s initial cocky demeanor folds into a strong willed base of support for his new love, revealing it’s the effort that counts, not the gender.

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