Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

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  • Why Change Your Wife? (1920) - Plot Summary - As the opening title card tells us "angels are often dead husbands, but husbands are seldom live angels" - and so thinks Beth Gordon (Gloria Swanson) in this well-done marital comedy. Beth is a woman of virtue, and really quite a bit of a nag - annoyed by hubby Robert's (Thomas Meighan) wine cellar and doggie in the house - she bugs him while he's shaving, asks him to stop smoking, and forces him to abandon his favorite music, the Hindustan fox trot in favor of violin playing by a long-haired wolf named Radinoff. Wondering where was the girl he once married, hubby goes to a local gown shop to buy Beth a negligee and hopefully bring a smile back to her face (and his too, no doubt, judging by the slinky see-through number he buys her). The model at the shop, Sally (Bebe Daniels), happens to be a girl from upstate who once had a crush on Robert, and seems to still (she just *loves* curly hair). So Sally of the perfumed lips, feather, furs, and velvet pillows, comes slinking out modeling the negligee laden with perfume and a heart tattoo on her shoulder. That night when he gives wifey the gift, she is a bit put out by the revealing nightie - her modesty just won't let herself be seen in it without covering herself. Later, when Robert buys tickets to the Follies, Beth won't go as she invited Radinoff and guests over to be charmed by his violin. So Robert gives the extra ticket to seductress Sally and next thing you know is in her apartment, a real spider trap with couch arms that open up, one side revealing a record player (equipped with no less than the Hindustan fox trot) and the other arm revealing a liquor cabinet. Arriving home at nearly two in the morning, Beth is mad and soon (oh so soon) has divorced him. Robert marries Sally and soon finds the same things happening all over - Sally nagging and bugging him while he's trying to shave - and Sally hates doggie too. Meanwhile, Beth, who overhears gossips talking about how she "dresses like an old woman, no wonder she lost Robert", decides to change her look and buys six new gowns - all "sleeveless, backless, transparent, and as indecent" as possible. She is also soon trotting around a Grand Hotel wearing the latest revealing swimming costume and being chased by most of the men - looks like her days of modesty are LONG gone. Well, it won't be long 'til we can all guess what will happen with THAT going on, especially when Robert and the new Mrs. Gordon arrive by surprise to stay at the Grand Hotel!

    Review - Okay, this film is really very amusing. It is nicely directed by Cecil B. DeMille and actually has a very similar plot to his earlier Don't Change Your Husband from 1919, except kind of reversed. However, both films pretty much make the woman look more like the bad one - hmmm. The DVD from Image Entertainment features a nice looking tinted print and really excellent orchestral score by the Mont Alto Orchestra. This film is a lot of fun - I liked it a bit better than the similar "Don't Change Your Husband". Love that Hindustan Fox Trot music as featured in the score for this. Rating - * 9/10 stars *

    Director: Cecil B. DeMille
    Film Genre: Romantic Comedy
    Film Runtime: 90 minutes

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10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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