The movie is one of Jean's lesser remembered efforts, though it is very entertaining to watch the two grown men become whimpering babies and compete for a very enthusiastic woman's affection. The story, based on a W. Somerset Maugham play and written for the screen by Claude Binyon would be tried a few times more, with different directors, writers, and actors, but in the future, there would be a slight alteration to the plot: it is the wife who is shipwrecked, and the husband who has just remarried when the past shows up at his front door. As far as I know, this new slant has been done at least three times, the first of which was a mere two months after Too Many Husbands was released! Seems like a rival studio smelled a winning concept...
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. One of the greatest screwball queens, Dunne shines in her role as the quirky, martyred wife--Ellen Arden-- who returns home after 7 years to discover that her husband, Nick, has just wed Bianca Bates (Gail Patrick). Cary, as always, plays "perfectly perplexed" like nobody's business-- (was there ever a handsomer buffoon)??? Another log is thrown on the very confusing fire when Nick, at first elated to find his dead wife alive, discovers that she had been living on her distant island with another survivor, who just happens to be the incredibly handsome Steve Burkett (Randolph Scott). The expected jealousies, misunderstandings, and conniving ensue, but in the end, a decision has to be made and a true wife chosen.
Over twenty years after My Favorite Wife, this film was chosen as a perfect vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, who was looking to make a personal and professional comeback after the Kennedy humiliation and her failed passion project with husband Arthur Miller, The Misfits, (which wouldn't be recognized as a classic until years later). The plot is the same as above, with Marilyn stepping into Irene's shoes as Ellen and Dean Martin playing husband Nick. Cyd Charisse is cast as the ill-fated newlywed, Bianca, who doesn't stand a chance against the first Mrs. Arden. Sadly, the film was never completed due to Marilyn's untimely death, but the surviving footage of her swimming naked in the pool made it into the mainstream, and with the rest of the surviving footage, as well as Marilyn's cinematic reputation, it is safe to assume that this version would have had a much sexier vibe. (Irene definitely did not go skinny dipping in the 1940 film)!
Doris Day. If anyone could bring a little sunshine and life back into a dead script, it would be the reigning Queen of Cheer. One year after SGG came to a sad and screeching halt, writers Bella and Sam Spewack revamped their 1962 script for 1963, this time making alterations to create a vehicle for Day and James Garner. Bianca would be played by Polly Bergen this time around, and comedy genius Don Knotts would add a little flavor as the shoe salesman that Day, as the eternal Ellen Arden, tries to bribe into standing in as the man she spent her time on the island with. (The role was played by Wally Cox in SGG and Chester Clute in MFW). Of course, the real Stephen Burkett, who enrages Nick's jealousy, is played by the much more muscled Chuck Conners. The movie was a success, becoming the 6th biggest moneymaker of that year, and there was even a great little homage to My Favorite Wife in the scene where Eve gives Bianca a massage and describes a classic old movie.